It has been a long time coming but earlier last week, I was finally able to sit down with Marc Worth to ask a few questions - from his early days in business, to retiring, raising investments, the UK entrepreneurial ecosystem and finally advice for first time entrepreneurs.
Hi Marc, Thanks for doing this. How are you doing today?
I am doing just fine, thanks.
Can you give us some background information about yourself?
I’ve been involved as a founder, executive and operational leader in consumer and media industries for over 25 years. I guess you could say I’m a natural entrepreneur. My most successful venture to date was Worth Global Style Network (WGSN), which revolutionised the trends information business for the fashion retail industry worldwide. I sold it in 2005 to pursue a number of other projects, including my latest – Stylus Media Group.
Tell me how you initially got into business?
I used to work at my father’s company back in Nottingham, supplying Marks & Spencer and other retailers. I learned a lot about every aspect of business, which I put into practice when the first dot.com boom arrived.
How did the idea for Stylus come about? And why fashion?
Fashion was my background, and the reason why I launched WGSN with my brother Julian. But fashion is only one small aspect of my new venture. Stylus Media Group reaches out to companies in all consumer-facing industries, covering everything from branding and marketing to industrial design and big picture creative strategies. My goal is to re-energise thought leadership within the creative industries.
Tell us in more detail about Stylus? And what are you trying to solve with it?
Stylus provides inspirational and informative research and relates it to prevailing consumer trends, acting as a catalyst to push the design industries to new levels. How companies apply this to their brands and product categories could change the game forever. Companies are desperate for an innovative edge that will give them that bit extra to outsmart their competitors.
What are the most crucial things that you have done to grow your business?
When we launched in late 2010, we originally focused on delivering a very high-value website, but our clients told us they wanted more. They wanted workshops, seminars, hard-copy reports, individualised service, etc. We’re now giving them everything they ask for – while maintaining the website.
How have you been able to fund it so far?
WGSN was sold for £150m – and I did walk away with quite a bit of that figure! We’ve also been fortunate to have investment from Hearst, one of the world’s biggest media groups.
What advices would you give to entrepreneurs looking to raise funds for their startups?
The important point is to work up a convincing and thorough pitch that you believe in heart and soul. Be prepared for setbacks: you have to be resilient.
Also being an investor yourself, what kind of startups do you invest in? Or is it just fashion startups?
I’ve invested in a wide variety of projects, not necessarily in fashion by any means. The common link between most of them is that they are internet-based, building on my experience at WGSN.
What are your thoughts on the growing entrepreneurial ecosystem in the UK and what do you think can be done to help foster it even better?
I think the culture being created around Old Street in east London is great. Young companies can help each other to grow. It’s very hard if you’ve got no one to bounce ideas off.
You retired for a bit, why did you decide to come back to work?
That’s simple to answer. I got bored out of my mind! I also knew I was far too young to really retire – let’s call it a brief career break.
What would you say has been the highlight of your entrepreneurial journey so far?
Closing the sale of WGSN to EMAP for £150m.
What should we be expecting from yourself and the Stylus team for 2013?
We have big but achievable ambitions to move the company strongly into profit and develop a global reputation for fostering innovation and creativity. We already have 300 of the world’s most enterprising companies on board, so we are well on the road.
There are lots of young entrepreneurs that currently look up to you and some who try to follow in your way of thinking in business. What advises can you give them regarding entrepreneurship, especially those thinking of starting or first time entrepreneurs?
The core idea has to be must-have rather than nice-to-have. You have to believe in it to your very core. The finance has to be in place. It will always cost you more than you think too. Be prepared to pay handsomely for high-quality employees to realise your vision.
On Saturday 9th March we will be hosting, alongside Brightside, ‘Get Up Start Up‘ where you will be able to apply and be approved for a Startup loan of between £2,500 & £10,000 to help you get your business started!