Here is yet another interview with one of the NEF guys, today I spoke to Joshua Savinson who currently works with Richard Harpin, CEO of HomeServe PLC. Joshua is currently helping Richard manage and expand his private investments which includes him leading meetings with Private Equity Houses to scouring the country for property investments.
I spoke to Joshua to find out more about his experience working with Richard and his journey so far.
Here is the full interview.
Hi Josh, It's great to finally have you on YHP, how are you doing today?
I’m great thanks Joseph.
Before we move on, could you quickly give us some background information about yourself so that the YHP audience can get to know you better?
Thanks to the New Entrepreneurs Foundation I am currently working for Richard Harpin, CEO of HomeServe PLC. I really have a fantastic role due to the freedom it entails. The vague brief is helping to manage and expand Richard’s private investments and various social responsibility interests. This has led me to perform such diverse actions such as leading meetings with Private Equity Houses to scouring the country for property investments to working on improving the Apprenticeship system within the country. This is merely a selection. I am incredibly grateful to have such a fantastic opportunity to be exposed to such a wide variety situations. Hopefully this will put me in good stead for the future!
Tell me about your experience growing up, were you more academic or entrepreneurial?
I have to say I have been rather lucky in that I was both academic and entrepreneurial. I perform well in exams, which has allowed me to focus on my entrepreneurial ventures during term time and then spending a few weeks prior to exams revising day and night. Thankfully I always managed to succeed, otherwise my parents would not have been too happy.
I am entirely honest with myself and admit my one motivating factor is money. This has driven me in all the entrepreneurial activities I have undertaken. This drive has been with me from a young age. My earliest memory of this is when I was in primary school, aged around 8; I became a Pokémon Card dealer. I bought and sold cards as well as importing rarer ones from America. I still remember the buzz I got from it and I guess I was inspired from there.
You studied philosophy at Nottingham University, why philosophy?
Philosophy has always intrigued me. I like just being able to think and propose abstract solutions to problems. This is essentially what business is, solving problems. I enjoy trying to do things in a different way; it is more of a challenge.
However in reality the degree was a secondary reason for going to University. Honestly, where does a Philosophy degree really get you in life unless you want to become an academic. The same could be said for many degrees, but I’m not going to get into that.
Instead the life skills you pick up and personal development you undergo during University is incredibly important. It’s a transitional phase between school and the real world. Furthermore when else do you get an opportunity to go out as much as you want, meet some great people and spend time on you own ventures?
What would you say was some of the key things you took away from your university experience?
Looking back now, less than a year after finishing university, I realise just how much I got out of it. I got to meet and make friends with people from a diverse range of backgrounds. Yet the key was growing up and becoming more independent.
Did you get involved in anything entrepreneurial during your time at the university?
Once I realised that my course took up a fraction of my time at University I decided I would focus my time on being entrepreneurial. I had previously tried my hand at developing websites, so decided I would have another go. I managed to find a niche in the market for individuals looking for a variety of videos, ranging from comedy videos to movie trailers. The key was to rank highly on Google. So I taught myself SEO and how to manipulate Google rankings and set about developing a number of successful websites. At its peak I had a number of Google News syndicated sites getting over 500,000 unique per month.
Yet sitting in my bedroom wasn’t exactly my idea of fun, it was not stimulating. So I, along with two entrepreneurial friends, decided to set up a student consultancy business. This led to us getting involved in the distribution of nightclub tickets, leading to helping manage the nights themselves, along with attempting to launch a new Pretox drink called Alibi into the University. We made some mistakes along the way, but it was a great learning curve.
What would you say was some of the key things you learnt from that experience?
I learned a lot about myself in this period; what motivated me and what I wanted to do when I was older. I quickly realised that I thrived whilst running my own business and this was really where I wanted to be in the future. I also realised how much I still needed to learn and this influenced me a great deal in deciding to apply for NEF.
Tell us about NEF, why did you decide this was the next step for you, what was the process?
Towards the end of my degree I began to think about my next step. Having done a great deal of work experience, as well as getting advice from those around me, it was fairly apparent that a graduate job would not be the right move for me. I like being independent and to make a difference and I got the feeling a graduate job would be suffocating, merely going through the motions. I knew I wanted to start my own business eventually, but also realized I needed more experience. I was lining up a number of opportunities, but when I heard about NEF I instantly knew it was perfect for me, a mix between training and learning from top entrepreneurs. It sounded too good to be true. Thankfully contrary to what people generally suggest, it has delivered.
What company are you currently working with and how’s the experience been so far for you?
I am currently working for the CEO of HomeServe PLC Richard Harpin on his external interests outside of HomeServe. It has been a real eye opening experience. I’ve experienced many highs and lows and got to meet many fantastic people.
I’m currently working on a number of long term projects and am looking forward to them coming to fruition in the near future.
What are some of the key things that you’ve learnt so far from working with Richard Harpin?
I’ve seen at first hand the challenges of running a multi-national corporation. You have to be incredibly driven and disciplined to operate effectively. Furthermore just watching how he operates in meetings and analyses opportunities has been incredibly beneficial and I have already taken much of this on board in the way that I conduct myself.
Is this something that you would recommend to other aspiring entrepreneurs? What’s the value in it?
I would actively encourage anyone who perceives themselves as an entrepreneur to join the programme. If you want to run your own business in the future, but currently feel you lack the required experience and contacts, then the programme will provide you with exactly what you need. True entrepreneurs are risk takers, so if you are really an entrepreneur, you will instantly know if the programme is for you.
What would you say has been some of the key things that you’ve learnt along the way?
Believe in yourself and persevere. If I just take this from the year it will have been worthwhile. This message has been key in the success of many of the entrepreneurs we have had come speak to us.
What would you say has been some of your most memorable moment so far?
I’m not sure I can beat taking a helicopter to meetings or being picked up from my flat by a Chauffeur to go to work. It has given me a taster as to some of the perks the future will hopefully have in store.
What advices would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs looking to start their own business?
Just do it! Don’t over think it and spend months deliberating over your business plan. You learn a huge amount once you start trading, and your business model will in all likelihood end up miles apart from where you began. There is no substitute for what you can learn once you begin. In my opinion a great way to begin is to follow the mantra of the Lean Start Up by Eric Reis.
Finally enjoy it. It should be fun and you should want to work on it. If it becomes too much of a chore then I would suggest reassessing your situation to see what you really want.
What can we be expecting from you in the future?
Who knows, the journey has just begun. Add a Google Alert for my name and find out!