Starting a Business Case Study – with Turvec Cycle Storage Solutions
Started in 2016 by George Hosegood and Rupert Harvey-Scholes, Turvec Cycle Storage Solutions specialise in the design and installation of bicycle parking solutions. In October 2017 Turvec was named Best Business Start-Up in the 2017 Colbea Business Awards. We spoke to George and Rupert, from their London office near Bank tube station, about their experience of translating business ideas into actually starting a business.
“Me and my business partner Rupert started Turvec in 2016 after we finished university.” George begins. “We both studied at Oxford Brookes, where we had our own events company. We liked having a small business, we really enjoyed the experience and wanted to start a company.”
Spending their uni years in Oxford, where 17% of residents cycle to work – the second highest in the UK after Cambridge, the eternal battle continues – the direction of their business is no great surprise.
“We had an idea of bike parking. I had completed an internship with house building company in London, so had gained an insight into the potential market. We looked into production ourselves, but the costs for development seemed so high, and it would take such a long time to take the idea to market.”
If Oxford rivals Cambridge as the capital of UK cycling, the Netherlands, with its 22,000 miles of dedicated cycle paths and over a quarter of trips made by bike, can certainly lay a claim to be the worldwide cycling centre. George continues,
“So we looked to Holland, the cycling capital of the world, for the technical side of the business. Turvec is now the exclusive UK distributor of a leading supplier from the Netherlands.”
“We first heard of Colbea when we entered the Essex BIG Business Boost 2016 (in which Turvec was named among the finalists). The prize included business advice, which in introduced us to Keith Powell (a Colbea Business Advisor) who we’d meet quarter for a bit of business advice.”
Did you have to make sacrifices when you were starting a business?
“It wasn’t a very glamorous beginning, we started straight out of uni and decided not to try and raise any money. We used our own funds and moved back in with our parents, which is not very exciting, and we had some tough times spending the first year working from our parents’ study building up a business. But it was worth it. The financial sacrifice you expect to make, but you also miss out socially – on moving out with friends, hanging out with people your own age. There is a huge contrast of being at uni then moving back home.”
“It’s risk versus reward.” Rupert adds.
What are your future plans for the business?
“In the short term, we hope to take on a new team member in the new year, in a business support role, to help with workload.
“Long-term it’s growth, meeting targets and more growth. There is so much to do in the UK that we haven’t really tapped into yet, so moving into new sectors isn’t really necessary. There have been some early discussions with large international groups, which would mean building partnerships rather than moving. Our main plan is to scale within existing markets and continue to do what we do, better and better.”
Will you continue to use business advice moving forwards?
“We still work closely with Business Wales, but now we’re up and running we tap into business support less. We meet quarterly with Keith and another couple of mentors and business advisors – where we review bigger picture stuff. We look at things like six to twelve month targets. Are we meeting them? If not, why not?”
How has business advice helped you grow your business?
“I’m from Essex, so we worked with the Essex Innovation Programme in the early days, and they partnered us with the Ford Motoring mentoring scheme. And Rupert tapped into Business Wales, which provided a cross-section of business support and workshops including access to finance and tendering, and we also picked up a couple of mentors along the way that we still meet with today.”
In your experience what is the best thing about starting a business?
“I reckon it’s building something from nothing. The rewarding journey we’ve been on, from starting a company from literally nothing, the persistence of struggling through the first two years of the start-up, to coming out of that into the business growth period and seeing our development ever since.
“Another thing is getting that freedom, and now we can that enjoy the freedom to work when we want to work, and to maintain a work-life balance, which is rewarding.”
What advice would you give to a new entrepreneur starting a business?
“Persistence – I think it’s very easy in the early days to think it’s all very hard and very tough, and you do have to be persistent. But you also have to be realistic about whether this is a viable business idea. It is quite a difficult balance to find.
“Twelve months ago we experienced probably our toughest times, and you do have to ask yourself, ‘When do you draw the line between being persistent and being realistic.?’
“During these times I think it’s important that your energy is channelled into the right thing – selling what you sell. Too many new and young businesses focus on the wrong thing. Your priority should be to sell what you sell.”
But most of all…
“People need to just do it! If you’ve got an idea, don’t mess around. Go for it and follow your own dreams, not someone else’s.”
“Turvec had a product that they can design, manufacture and install which met our needs, it was a simple process.” — Turvec client CALA Homes. Find out more about Turvec at www.turvec.com