One year catch up interview with Robert Matthams (Shiply.com)
Interview with Robert Matthams, founder of Shiply.com and winner of the Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2009.
One year on from winning the prestigious title of Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2009, we caught up with Robert Matthams (Shiply.com) to see what happened next.
[Shell LiveWIRE] Hi Robert, can you please tell us what stage your business was at when you applied for the award last year?
[Robert Matthams] We were about a year in, so we did have a few employees and customer traction but I would still have classed us as a start up most definitely.
[SLW] Where you are now? (i.e. rough turnover of Shiply.com, number of employees, etc)
[RM] We are way ahead of the business plan but we don’t disclose actual figures / staff levels etc publicly.
[SLW] How did you find the overall application process and the final judging day that took place at Shell centre in London?
[RM] The application process was clear, simple and easy to follow. Being announced in the shortlist was great in itself. The final judging day was a nerve-racking one, but I needn’t have worried. The judges were probing, intelligent, asked the right questions but did so in such a friendly manner. It was also really nice to chat with the other young entrepreneurs in the same boat as me, learn about their businesses and their goals. Although it was a competition, in many ways it didn’t feel like one, everyone was proud to have got that far.
[SLW] In the immediate aftermath of winning the award, what happened next?
[RM] It was hectic! I didn’t get a chance to enjoy a beer or champagne that evening as I was already scheduled in for a 5am interview on Radio 5 Live. Then the media snowball really kicked in with coverage on BBC Working Lunch, 5 Live again, The Independent, Financial Times & Evening Standard among others. Although we’ve gotten some coverage in the past, we’ve never received such attention all together and across several mediums at the same time. It had a big impact.
[SLW] How has winning the award helped you and your business? (i.e. did people take you more seriously, did it make you more credible, do you think it helped raise awareness & help leverage further funding/awards)?
[RM] Absolutely, to show off your awards and especially prestigious ones from the likes of Shell LiveWIRE demands respect and has helped to open many heavy doors. However, what is important to remember is that awards are pieces of recognition along the way, they are not a finishing line and you cannot lay back, gloat, or think that everyone will bow to your every need just because you have them. You’d better be sure your business is spot on, serves your customer’s needs and grows. At the end of the day, the real prize is your business, the awards a way of recognising that.
[SLW] Can you remember what you spent the £10,000 prize on?
[SLW] What other awards / accolades have you won since?
[RM] Shiply actually won another of Shell’s Awards – Shell Springboard which was so great for us as it came with a huge financial boost of £40,000. I also personally was named as 'BT Essence of the Entrepreneur' by Peter Jones, which was a real honor and also came with a £10k prize.
[SLW] How has life in general changed for Robert Matthams since last year?
[RM] With the business growing the way it has, life has changed and improved a lot. It has opened a lot of doors and opportunities for me. Also, by building a strong team around me, I’ve been able to get closer to that holy grail of work-life balance!
[SLW] Do you have any tips or advice for anyone that is thinking of applying for the 2010 award?
[RM] Check out past winners, why have they won, what was their USP, what would have appealed to the judges. You have to get into their shoes and imagine yourself sitting on the other side of the table. Also, do your prep work, what are they likely to ask, what common questions do you get every day and how do you answer them. They’d better be concise answers or you're done.
[SLW] Anything else you might like to add?
[RM] Nothing but thanks to Shell for their support towards Shiply.com and I look forward to judging this year’s event (definitely less nerves this time around).
To find out more about the Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award go to our Awards page