Program: New York
Intake: August 2012
Current Role: Co-Founder, Unhoused.org
Describe your business and your role within it.
I co-founded Unhoused.org (www.unhoused.org), a social impact startup focused on using innovative tech to solve homelessness. Our first project is the “UK’s first online shop for the homeless.”
Anyone can buy their winter supplies from the shop just like you might with ASOS or Amazon, and for every item sold, one gets donated to the homeless.
How did you get into this line of business?
Whilst in NYC, I learned that launching a technology startup was my true calling – I was really inspired by the bubbling tech scene over there which I became involved with while on the Mountbatten program. I ended up helping launch a startup called Hubble (www.hubblehq.com) when I returned to London and that’s where I learned the ropes!
How did you go about setting it up and getting established?
My fiancee, Anisha, and I wanted to do something good. My experience is in tech, and hers is in corporate community affairs so we thought we’d put our heads together. Homelessness is something that’s on our doorstep everyday while we live and work in London. I built the site myself and soon after the press caught on… https://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/unhoused-the-online-startup-shop-donating-warm-winter-clothes-to-homeless-people-in-london-a4054481.html
What else is in the pipeline?
We want to start using deeper tech to solve deeper problems. Clothing is a great start but we want to really make a long term step change. One idea is building fintech tools to open financial services to those homeless who are typically locked out of traditional banking. Another is using innovative tech to dramatically reduce the cost of home-building to help solve the crisis. Watch this space!
What has been the proudest moment in your working life thus far?
Probably when I first hustled my way into Hubble (after Mountbatten) that was just getting off the ground in a small basement, and becoming the first employee/founding team member there. It’s where I learned everything really. We raised £4m in venture capital last month.
What has been your biggest mistake/learning experience?
Hard to say as I’m always making mistakes! I think you have to find a tribe that supports you and moves you along, motivates you. That is key.
Any words of advice/wisdom would you impart to others thinking of setting up their own business?
I doubted my ideas for a long time, but once I finally set something up and saw it get off the ground, I realised that you have to back yourself first – long before others do. Run lean tests on everything, and don’t spend or set up heavy processes until you’ve validated their value and need.