On the 26th September, somewhereto_ presented spaced_, an event for 50 chosen young entrepreneurs aged 16-25 to attend a day of business motivated workshops, an inspiring panel / Q&A session with some of Britain’s most established and up and coming entrepreneurs, and pitch their business to London space-holders in a bid to be matched to a rent free workspace for up to a year.
One of the spaced_ panel members was Ning Li, founder of furniture e-retailer made.com, that has changed UK furniture retailing by providing something that hadn’t been done before – linking online consumers directly to the manufacturers, bringing costs down yet still providing high end fashion forward furniture. At just 30, Ning has achieved so much, so spaced_ sat down with Ning just before his panel appearance and put to him some questions that had been sent to somewhereto_ from budding young businesspeople. Here’s how it went!
@somewhereto_: How did you come up with the concept of @madedotcom?
@Ning: I showed my friend a sofa I wanted to buy which cost £3000. He told me that I could get the same sofa from the south of china for £300! Through this I saw a gap in the design industry to give people access to the manufacturers using the power of the Internet.
@tomfurr I am young, starting my graphic design company. If we came up w/some great designs, would you use them (For free)?
Ning: Made is a platform for talented designers and manufactures to meet consumers. We are always open to new designs, however we don’t use designs for free you will receive a % of the revenue as royalties if your design is chosen.
@somewhereto_: What have been your 3 biggest lessons starting and running made.com ?
Ning: Lesson 1. Complementary co-founders are great to drive a team.
Lesson 2. Stay focused, do little but do it well.
Lesson 3. Customers are the most important priority, then employees and lastly shareholders.
@somewhereto_ : What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Ning: Find what differentiates your idea from the market that you can deliver. At @madedotcom our focus is design and that stands out.
@MyScriptQuotes: How do you go about finding the right people to work with?
Ning: You start with your close circles as it’s difficult to hire in the beginning. Now we use social channels to recruit.
@somewhereto_ How do you know when it’s time to find investment?
Ning: If you know how much you need to set up your business then you would know if you need funding. We raised investment before we started as raising money is time consuming and we wanted to focus on the business.
@enterthekeep: Hi Ning! We’re a new business and would love some advice about finding and maintaining new clients.
Ning: Because you are new you have to be bolder, quicker and work harder than your competitors to stand out. The only magic to entrepreneurship is working harder than your competitors.
@somewhereto_ How do you pitch for money when you have no proof of the concept working?
Ning: Good question. I raised funding for two companies. First time was hard, we approached 100 investors & only 12 invested. You have to be very convincing and try a lot of avenues.
@MyScriptQuotes Tell us about the days when you doubted it ever working - How did you overcome them?
Ning: I never doubted the idea itself but some days are hard during a start up. I had 2 co founders so we shared the concern.
Thanks to made.com for supplying sofas for the panel and to Ning Li for appearing on the day! Look out for our event video coming soon…
Sofas were designed by Homes Expert, Alison Cork for www.MADE.COM
Wolseley 3 Seater Sofa, Wolf Grey and Wolseley 2 Seater Sofa, Wolf Grey