Self-Starter Stories: From Specialising in International Sanctions to becoming the Co-Founder of a Dating and Friendship App
This week's #SelfStarterStory features Michael Blakeley, founder of Clikd Limited, a creative iOS and Google Play app for meeting new people.
'Whether for dates or mates, we believe that the best person to decide what’s right for you, is you. Download clikd. Take control. Find someone on your terms..'
#PickYourselfUK caught up with Michael to learn more about his entrepreneurial journey so far.
Looking back, what lead you to be where you are today?: My father had a varied career in a number of countries working as a grape picker in Italy, to a butcher in Germany, opening a school in America and owning a restaurant in Barcelona. I grew up listening to these stories, and my parents always encouraged me to believe I could do anything I set my mind to it. Between him and my brother who had an amazing change in career in recent years, they inspired me to try something 'outside the box'.
What was the most challenging part of starting a business?: Convincing my friends and family that I wasn’t crazy, and ignoring them when I failed to convince them otherwise. That was tough, and only time will tell if they were right.
What did you want to be when you were a child?: Be a Lawyer, something that I achieved, it took me over a decade after I started my law degree to complete this. Once I had, I realised I actually didn’t want to be a lawyer and promptly quit to build a dating/ friendship app.
What was your last job?: I was a compliance Officer for a Swedish listed company with operations across Europe, I specialised in Data Protection, Bribery Corruption and International Sanctions amongst other areas.
When did you choose to PICK YOURSELF instead of waiting to be chosen by someone else?: I think it was last year when I realised that I was not excited by my job anymore. I sat down and decided to come up with three ideas for start-ups. I chose areas where there were low start-up costs and that were prone to viral growth. I then pitched those three ideas to a few friends and the feedback was resoundingly people loved the dating App. I spent another few weeks considering how best way to progress the idea and then decided to quit and just go for it.
What did you learn from your worst boss?: Just because you are in a position of authority doesn't mean people respect you.
Do you do everything yourself? What do you outsource?: I recognise and people do tell me I am a control freak, but I try and surround myself with great people and we outsource our tech to a great company in London, who have been managing all our tech needs for us.
What is your productivity secret?: Keep on working till you get it done, take regular breaks and try and get some exercise as well. Exercise really helps to de-stress.
What is your favourite app?: I really like a local London based app called Drinki, it looks beautiful, and is really easy to use and gets me free drinks, what's not to like.
How do you market your business?: Social media, events and PR. We have a great team and we are also part of the J C Decaux Nurture Programme, which is a great programme to support entrepreneurship and help with scaling.
When you first launched, how did you get your first paying customers?: Will tell you soon.
How did you get your first traffic to your website?: Same as above.
What would you say to someone who is toying with the idea to start a business but haven't yet?: Make sure you are doing it for the right reasons, because its is hard work and cost you a lot both personally and financially. It takes a lot of work and effort and if you are not a 100% committed then you are going to struggle. If the passion and entrepreneurial skill-set is there, then I think more often than not, you will succeed.
If you could have dinner with one entrepreneur, who would it be and why?: My co-founder, Rupert Coney, so that we can continue working on Clikd's progress whilst we eat. We have a long way to go, you know..?
To follow Michael on his entrepreneurial journey, be sure to follow his social media channels below:
Michael Blakeley has qualified for the #PickYourselfUK Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year award 2017. If you'd like to enter yourself or nominate a small business entrepreneur for this award, please submit your story below.
Voting for the #PickYourselfUK Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year award 2017 will take place in November 2017 so make sure you get your entry submitted to qualify.