How to be a successful start up entrepreneur
Matt Fox is the co-founder of Snaptrip.com, which specialises in making spontaneous, impulsive UK breaks possible by allowing holidaymakers to save money on last minute holidays in the UK.
What does your company do in under ten words?
Offer exclusive last minute deals on UK cottage breaks.
How did you come to setting it up?
The idea for Snaptrip emerged from a problem I saw in the holiday rental sector which I felt needed, and had, an obvious solution. With self-catering accommodation, off-peak weeks are a notoriously hard sell and rental properties are often left vacant. Nobody was working to sell these products in these periods, and no brand catered to the last-minute market when it came to self-catered properties. I brought the concept of Snaptrip to an investor, Forward Partners, which helped me to clarify the issues, explore what we as a brand could achieve, and eventually launch what is now Snaptrip.com.
Do you think you have to have a degree to succeed in travel/tech? Or can you learn enough on the job and in your spare time?
Education is definitely useful, but a lot of answers for the day-to-day, real world problems come from experience. That can either be from your own experiences, or leveraging those of the people you know. Some of the team at Snaptrip have put their university education to practical use, while equally for some, earning a degree was not relevant to the work they do now. I think whether you have a degree or not, being able to learn from experience is vitally important.
What do you love most about your job?
It may sound odd to some but I really like the responsibility. Maintaining the right strategic path, a positive and healthy working relationship with our investors and ensuring the whole team is motivated, happy and progressing the business in the best way possible may seem like a lot of stress and it definitely is at times. But when I started Snaptrip I knew I wanted to test myself at the highest level, to see if I could be ultimately responsible for every piece of starting and operating a successful business. Snaptrip still has a long way to go, but I do love being the master of my own destiny!
Which three skills / qualities do you need to succeed in your field?
Conviction – The investors and your team need to have faith that the CEO is willing to be the final point person on any strategic decision.
Intelligence – This doesn’t necessarily mean being ‘book smarts’ clever, but making intelligent decisions based on the right facts is difficult.
Resilience – The odds are hugely stacked against any company trying to penetrate an existing market. This is because it is incredibly hard, it will get very tough and test you physically and emotionally in a way you could never predict. Not giving up when you’re going through a tough patch (like any company does) is very hard.
Tell us a bit about your working style
I’m very involved in the bigger picture for most of the departments of the business, but don’t get involved at all in the detail. I trust the team implicitly to do what’s necessary to get the job done, and make sure the team knows that they are the skill, not me! I really enjoy watching them all work together and discussing the technical jargon or specialist knowledge needed for success.
What's the best piece of work advice you’ve ever been given?
‘This isn’t rocket science, it’s just science’. Meaning it comes down to data, trends and facts - piecing it all together is the hard part.
What piece of advice would you give to someone starting out?
People think the number one trait needed for an entrepreneur is blind faith. That’s not true at all in my view. You need to have intelligent faith. You need to have faith in yourself to do what’s absolutely necessary to give your concept the best chances of success. And if the data and information has been collected in the correct way, you need to have the intelligence to alter strategic direction if necessary, or even walk away from the concept if it’s not viable. Just blindly carrying on against all signals and data is where a lot of entrepreneurs go wrong.
Who inspires you?
I’d say my idol is Sir Clive Woodward. When he took over the England rugby team he had a six year goal to make them World Champions. Through an incredible level of strategic thinking (like noticing that the team tended to underperform in the first ten minutes after half time, then making them all shower and change into new kit at half time so they felt like they were going out into the start of a new game) allowed him to create something better and more competitive than what everyone else in that field was doing. To me, his new way of thinking created a whole new standard for technical and strategic leading in sport, and this makes him a great role model.