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Stephanie Desmond: Get the Right Team in Place. Find Those Hustlers Who Live and Breathe Your Product on a Shoe String to Help You Grow

Tell us about yourself?

I left a career in finance after seeing the potential of Uber. First 100 employee globally and number 3 of the founding UK team, I grew the platform from just a handful of riders in London, launching Uber in several UK cities to become the dominant market leader globally. I left Uber to have my first child and am now a mum of 3! As well as bloss, I advise on various apps and am also an angel investor – I tend to invest in things that tug at my heartstrings.

I’m a proud mother of three and also an artist on the side!

What lessons has being an entrepreneur taught you?

  • You need capital to fund the product development, marketing, hires etc but you have to hit the right balance – plan your p&l forecasting in advance and stick within your budget so you can manage your runway but at the same time, you have to try not to trim back costs too much and stunt growth!
  • Getting the right team in place, finding those hustlers who live and breathe your product on a shoe string to help you grow. There’s a very different profile that you need to hire at a start up vs what you would need when things get more corporate, more boots on the ground type character, an executing machine
  • Competitors – what’s your USP, what differentiates you from them? Why are people going to use your brand over someone else?
    • Finding product market fit – you’ve got a great idea but is it something your target audience can live without?
    • Keep one eye on your landscape whilst having confidence in what you’re bringing to the table
  • Time management – there are only 24 hours in a day with a million decisions to be made… cut out the noise and concentrate on clearing the bottlenecks first and foremost – what is stopping your company growing? Tackle that first and nice to have can be sorted later!
  • Know your weaknesses – having worked with a number of founders now (and being one myself) I think it’s really important to know your weakness. Find the right people to guide you externally, whether advisors or mentors or take it off your hands internally – don’t be a bottleneck in your own company, know when to step away.

If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

Find a technical co-founder from day 1, it would save you a lot of money and time in the future, not having to unpick all the product decisions you made whilst doing it on your own!

A lot of entrepreneurs find it difficult to balance their work and personal lives. How have you found that?

It’s difficult, a daily battle with myself if I’m to be honest, you always feel like you’re choosing between your family or your work and that’s not even taking my own self care into consideration. Ultimately my children will always come first but having launched bloss whilst pregnant with my third child and not taking maternity leave and having a large dose of mum guilt, I am now getting better at carving out time for my children. We’re building bloss to help individuals get a good work life balance and so it’s super important we practice what we preach – I make sure that I’m there for school runs and have face time with my kids every day.

Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?

Having had fertility struggles myself whilst at Uber and undertaking IVF for my first two babies, I experienced first hand the lack of support at work but also easily accessible, trustworthy and credible advice out there. The internet is an absolute minefield. Building something that will have such a positive impact on society by helping make so many families’ lives easier is our ultimate goal.

What do you think is your magic sauce? What sets you apart from the competitors?

We started building bloss as a b2c platform so we very much care about the end user. Our branding is strong and approachable and we have hundreds of experts, across a broad range of topics. Bloss is here to help you with ANY challenges you experience due to family life, not just health. For instance, we have financial advisors who are there to give you practical advice, a particularly helpful resource given the current climate.

How have you found sales so far? Do you have any lessons you could pass on to other founders in the same market as you just starting out?

It’s still early days for us but we’ve had some great traction and rewarding feedback from those individual lives bloss has already helped. We take 20% commission for all our expert services which are priced at any from £2.99 for a downloadable item. We realised pretty quickly that for bloss to be commercially viable and reach scale, enterprise was a smart route to go down. Now we have launched b2b, things have become more exciting – we are now impacting more people’s lives through the businesses we service.

My main lesson is don’t be scared of grass root style marketing, get your hands dirty and knock on those doors, hand out flyers, cold call and tell everyone that’ll listen about your business.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far in your business, and how did you overcome it?

Start-up life is one big (exciting) challenge! Building something on a bootstrap budget with a small team can be frustrating but we’re just entering our biggest challenge yet, the current economic climate means we’re having to make some very difficult decisions to extend our runway and try to weather the storm. Watch this space!

What do you find are the advantages of operating your business in London?

London’s a melting pot of businesses so naturally you feel more plugged in with what’s going on and it’s great for networking with businesses at a similar stage to you. You have your finger on the pulse of actually living and breathing work and listening to what employees and experts need.

Having said that, the pandemic has paved the way for virtual working and so location is no longer as relevant these days. We have 30,000 users across 161 countries so far, all organic with our second biggest market in the US! So it goes to show that location is not the be all and end all.

Are there any issues with having a London based business? Have you experienced these?

Cost of living is high in London and as such, so are the cost of offices and salaries.

How has the higher than UK average cost of living impacted your ability to work and live in London and how has this also impacted your ability as an employer?

It has never been easier to work remotely – thanks to tech, communication is super easy these days. The pandemic has fuelled the need for remote working and as such, it’s more acceptable than ever before!

Bloss employees don’t have to be based in London to work for our company nor do they have to go into work every day! Flexibility and remote working are key at bloss. I’m a big supporter of working round our family lives – as long as you pick up the hours in the evenings or weekends then you can be as flexible as you need. Our office is in London but we have people working remotely, from the English countryside to Amsterdam, Bangkok and South Africa!

London is known to be one of the most multicultural cities in the world, the true definition of a ‘cosmopolitan city’. Has this had any impact on your business?

Our mission is to give top expert access to everyone – regardless of your socio economic background. This impacts everything from our content and imagery to pricing and the product we are building, the experts we onboard and how easy it is for individuals to get the help they need.

If you had to relocate your business to another city in the UK, which one would it be and why?

Often referred to as the UK’s “second city”, Birmingham has grown to become an important commercial center both locally and internationally. Big players like HSBC and PwC have now opened headquarters there. It’s also one of the youngest cities in Europe, with about 40% of its population aged under 25 which is the sweet spot for a potential bloss user as initially we’re targeting those who are starting to think about having a family and young parents.

How has BREXIT impacted your business (if at all)?

No impact just yet

What is your vision for your company in the next 5 years?

Ultimately my wish for bloss is to be the first thing people think of when they need help navigating family life and also a badge of honour that immediately signifies credibility and quality for any expert on our platform.

And finally, if people want to get involved and learn more about your business, how should they do that?

Download our app in the app store by searching for ‘bloss parenting’, check out our website www.blossapp.com or book a demo with one of our team. Also, calendly:

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