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Flashback to 2007: Catching up with Simon Phelps

Fri, 16 August 2013

Simon was a Southern Gala Finalist in 2007, and won an award for his business, Fluvial Innovations Ltd.
They are now the leading provider of temporary flood barriers in the UK and have won a number of awards for their flood defence barrier, FLOODSTOP. We caught up with Simon to see how the business is doing.

What can you remember about your involvement with Shell LiveWIRE?
The work Shell LiveWIRE does is really great, and the PR for the business that came with winning the award really helped. It gave the business some gravitas moving forward.

The biggest thing was going along to the event and meeting all the other finalists; they were all my age and very like minded people who were motivated to start their own successful businesses. It was a really good laugh, and had a very supportive atmosphere. The award was a massive pat on the back and gave me the confidence that I was doing the right thing, and was on the right track.

How have things changed for you since you won your Shell LiveWIRE award?
When I won the award we hadn’t even started selling commercially. For the first couple of years after 2007 we focused on raising the necessary investment, which we did, and then we focused on marketing and growing sales in the product. In 2009 FLOODSTOP was named Emergency Planning Society’s Most Innovative Product of the Year, and more recently in March 2013 it was winner of Climate Week’s Best Climate Ready Initiative 2013 in a prestigious ceremony held at the House of Commons.

We have now sold well over 6 km of the FLOODSTOP flood defence barrier, around the world, supplying the British Embassies in Thailand and Jakarta, businesses in Australia and the East coast of America, and nuclear sites, as well as the Environment agency, local councils and private households in the UK. The business is on track and we are looking to continue growing, while expanding into new products.

                                                                                                                                                           
                                         Simon Phelps winning his award in 2007

How have you had to adapt as an entrepreneur over the years?
When I started the business I was quite naïve, but that was not necessarily a bad thing as it meant I was able to take the plunge and not worry too much about the business failing, which thankfully it didn’t. Over time though, because I have to deal with big customers and investors, I’ve had to become more business minded. I’m not so naïve anymore, but I still love what I do and I feel privileged to be able to run my own business.

What has been the biggest obstacle you have overcome in business?
I prefer to think of them as milestones as opposed to obstacles, the first of which was getting funding at a good deal - it took about a year and a half for us to find the right investor. Then next it was our first customers and making the first sale, and then listening and taking on board their feedback. I’m also a worrier, stressing over the ‘what ifs’ and ‘maybes’, which is hard to overcome with your own business.

What are your top 3 tips for a young entrepreneur who is about to set up in business?
  1. Now is the perfect time. You have few responsibilities, and if you don’t go for it now the opportunities will dry up.
  2. Do it! If you have an idea, go for it.
  3. If you know somebody who has a business or works in a similar field to your idea take them to the pub or for a coffee, and sit down and talk them. They’ll be able to give you some advice and some confidence in your idea.
To find out more about Fluvial Innovations Ltd, head to their website: http://www.fluvial-innovations.co.uk.

Shell LiveWIRE UK has been running for 30 years. If you have been involved with the programme at any point and would like to share your story, please contact Emily Carlson at enquiries@shell-livewire.org.
 

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