Spotlight On: Michael Hayes, Wilde International

Welcome to another installment of my Spotlight On series - where each week I will be bringing you words of wisdom directly from the people who have set up, or are just starting, their own businesses!

This week I have been speaking to Michael Hayes, who is also from my home city of York! I have actually had the pleasure of meeting Micheal in person and can confirm that he is exactly as direct and instantly likable as he sounds below.

His no-bullshit approach is also breath of fresh air in an industry which can often be filled with overblown and frankly condescending characters. I fundamentally believe that a lot of success in life comes from your own attitude and how you interact with others. I'm excited to see what happens as Michael progresses, as he certainly has the winning combination of charisma and self belief. 

 I think his advice below about not being ashamed of having a second job is absolutely spot on! Throughout my time being self employed, I have taken a multitude of different jobs, including scrubbing toilets and pouring pints. Doing something else alongside building your business isn't a sign of weakness, it's evidence of strength of mind, drive and real commitment!

So on to the interview...


So... Wilde International? Please explain!

We make movies. That is what we do. You want it made and you want it made well. Online video, feature film, or a commercial we can make it and we’ll make it in such a way that people will want to watch it. Sounds simple and that’s because we made it that way. We just want our customers to get the most from what we make them. That’s it.

Why did you start?

Let me be frank, I’m hardly inspirational, I’d barely call myself an entrepreneur! I only became one because the job market was shit. Though I don’t think that’s a bad thing, because I think that could be a symptom of the way the world is changing. 

However, yes there is a story, it started in December 2014. I joined Plastic Fortune (which you should go visit) with Ben Porter to try and connect the creative scene in York. Fast forward 10 months, we’d worked with worlds biggest whiskey company, learnt a lot and Plastic Fortune was changing form and it didn't really need me for what it was going to do. 

However I’d dipped my toe into the world of making video and the job market couldn't offer up anything more adventurous for a 22 year old to do. So myself and gentleman called Jack Spring (A film director who is the first since Orson Welles to direct a film worth over $1 million before the age of 20) set up Wilde International.

Have you had any setbacks and have you learnt anything from them?

Apart from my personal finances suffering from time to time, none particularly stick out. I never expected it to be easy or for things to get so far. I always expected that at some point someone would put a stop to it all and say “What are you doing here? Get out.” So everyday feels like a bonus.

What is the single achievement that you are most proud of and how did you manage it?

Working with Jack Daniels was pretty cool. I basically picked up the phone/e-mail/facebook and got to work. I don’t want to say I managed it all on my own because I didn’t, I had the right people around me that enabled us to do all this cool stuff.

If you could start again, what (if anything!) would you do differently?

    I want to say; not go to university because the debt you accrue doing it is crazy and maybe it’s more useful if you go when you’re older. Then again it taught me some pretty useful skills and I’d miss getting to live in my beloved Newcastle and as a Newcastle United fan that was great. So it’s hard to say.

What would be your number one tip for someone thinking about starting their own venture?

Have a healthy disrespect for how the world currently is and not to sound like some self-help book but believe in yourself. Honestly anyone or anything can stand in your way if you let it, so make sure you can believe in your education and commitment to what you are doing. In the words of Shia LaBeouf just do it, honestly I cannot express how malleable the world is, if you force the issue. 

As a side note too if you have to work a second job that people for one reason or another look down upon or question your commitment. You have to totally fuck what those people think. I worked in a toolshop for the longest time. Nothing will help you find out what you want to do and drive you towards it like doing something you totally despise.

Do you have any big projects / plans for 2016 that we should know about?

I am a producer on a feature film set in Yorkshire, you’ll know more when we can reveal!

Additional tip for starting out:

Find music you love, its a long slog to even get to a company launch so make sure you’ve got something to keep you inspired and keep your mind ticking over. I used to have Monday morning playlist when I was driving to the tool shop at 5 in friggin’ morning. Because that was total shit and I needed something to fire me up. One off recommendation for ‘Whatever’ by Oasis.

Find out more:


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Spotlight On: Umesh Samani

Welcome to the third installment of my Spotlight On Series!

Starting on the 1st January 2016, the Spotlight Series is a weekly feature which will explore a variety of different business stories, all from the perspective of the entrepreneurs who founded them.

The series aims to cover a wide range of sectors, including digital entrepreneurs, successful shop owners, technological innovators, traditional manufacturers and new "cottage" industrialists.

There is also no bias towards age or location - as there are lessons we can learn from all stages of the business journey, from brand new start ups, to established companies.

This week I have been talking to Umesh Samani, who sells specialist cars online and via his showroom. 

What stood out to me from the beginning was Umesh's attitude towards his business! This is a man who knows his market and goes above and beyond to make customers happy. Obviously this is a strategy which works, as the business is still going strong after 18 years.

Specialist Cars also provides an example of a traditional business which has successfully tapped into the 21st century technology, as evidenced by Umesh's successful social media presence!

There has also evidently been serious thought surrounding the customer experience and the barriers to sale, as Umesh has used this insight to develop his video walk rounds, which allow his customers to shop remotely with confidence.

His positive attitude and real passion for his business makes this entrepreneurial story a highly compelling read.

Name: Umesh Samani

Business Name: Specialist Cars Stoke

Age of business: 18 years (Editor's note - wow)

In a nut shell I create #RavingFans, which may make you wonder what I am talking about….
I buy and sell cars, but not just any cars, but only specially handpicked cars of the highest quality. NONE are purchased from car auctions and the majority are bought directly from the last owner. This ensures I only buy the best! Also by buying directly from the last owner, I get to know the people and the car before buying it.

I source cars for people to save them the headache of trawling through various websites, driving all around the country, customers simply tell me their requirements and I do everything for them, making it easy and efficient for them. 

I also present my cars in a very unique way! Every car always has up to 60 high quality images and a full HD Video walk around, so it’s almost like buying a car from the comfort of your arm chair. 

So how did this all start?

I started life repairing cars after leaving school as an apprentice with a City and Guilds motor vehicle technology (a mechanic, as such!) 

I then joined an Audi - Volkswagen Franchised dealer as a salesman, spending nearly 14 years with that business and pretty much running it for the owner. During my time, it further developed into 3 sites and an additional franchise of SEAT.

Having done it for some else I knew I could do it for myself so in July 1997 I set up Specialist Cars along with my wife Sue (I lost her to cancer in Feb 2006 - not a lot of people know that as I don't tend to broadcast that. It was Sue who said “You can do this for yourself “... behind every successful man there is always a great woman.) 

Have you had any setbacks? 

Being is business is always challenging and I guess the biggest challenge was with the 2007/2008 crash, a lot of business went bust. You never know what's going to happen, so you have to make sure your business is strong enough to ride the storm!

When there is no business coming in but the bills are still coming in – it’s a tough challenge to keep motivated, focus and POSITIVE! 

The biggest thing I learn was ‘attitude’, you have to have the right attitude to keep going and not be drawn into negativity and other people’s negativity.  

What is the single achievement that you are most proud of and how did you manage it?
Single achievement! 

I guess that really has to be setting up the business and making it a success! 

Success is different to everyone and not just financially motivated. I'm recognised not just locally but nationally for supply the best cars, with amazing customer services that bring customers back time after time, these 'customers' then actually turn in to great friends. 

 Achieving that, I feel,  is magic!

If you could start again, what would you do differently? 

On the majority, I wouldn't do anything any differently; it’s the journey sometimes that moulds us into what we are now. 

One of things is probably ask for advice openly on anything when/if needed - as I believe a lot of people out there if you ask actually want to help, and maybe by asking at relevant times my journey may have been easier. 

What would be your number one tip for someone thinking about starting their own venture?

'PASSION' - Have passion for what you do /are doing! - If you don't have passion you're just going through the motions - Passion will get you anywhere!

Also believe in yourself. If you don't, nobody else will! 

Social media can also help lots of business these days, making it so much easier to reach audiences and make new connections. 

When my web designer did my most recent website few years ago, he told me I should be on Facebook and twitter, I told him "FB was for kids and that I didn't understand twitter, so I won't be bothering with them both" - Call me old fashioned!

He continued to insist and said he would set it up, show me and then it was up to me if I used it or not.

In retrospect, it’s one of the best things I've ever done in my life!

I have meet so many people and made some genuine, life friends via twitter. I have bought and sold cars via Facebook.

A lot of business simply do not understand the power of social media and are missing out - It’s not just for the young ones!

Do you have any big projects planned for 2016 that we should know about?

I really have to say ' Watch this space!' My mind is always on overtime, so many ideas floating in my head so let's see what great news I may have in 2016


Twitter: @specialistcars1

Here's just a "small list" of the various awards Umesh has won - not bad for a one man band!

Theo Paphitis #SBS Award March 2013

5th Most influencer motor Dealer on Twitter ' Car Dealer Magazine'  2013

'Dealers Dealer of the Year ' Winner - Car Dealer Magazine 2013

'Social Media User of The Year'  Winner - Car Dealer Magazine 2013

'Best Used Car Customer Care ' Highly Commended - Car Dealer Magazine 2014

'Best Service Customer Performance' Highly Commended -Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce 2015

'Dealers Dealer Of The Year' -Highly Commended - Car Dealer Magazine 2015

'Best Used Car Customer Care' High Commended - Car Dealer Magazine 2015

Want to be featured in my Spotlight On Series? Get in touch and tell me about your business story!

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Spotlight On: Kurt Davis, SECURIST

Hello and welcome to another installment of my Spotlight On... series!

Spotlight On.. brings you a different entrepreneurial story each week!

From brand new start ups, to large established businesses, this series will cover it all!

I really want to give a sense of the diversity in the journeys that people have taken to building their business, alongside exploring some the unique challenges they have had to overcome.

This week I have an example of a rather niche business which managed to utilize the talents of it's team to take advantage of a gap in the market for security services, which could fulfill the needs of both large and small businesses!

I feel that the big lesson to take away from Kurt's story is how important it is to focus on the needs of BOTH your clients and your staff. The move towards becoming a Living Wage employer has undoubtedly been of massive benefit to the business, both from a staff and customer point of view!

Find out more below!

Kurt Davis.jpg

Name: Kurt Davis

Business Name: SECURIST

Age of business: 6 years

Originally founded in Bristol, UK, SECURIST began with an experienced team of individuals with a wide range of backgrounds from within the security industry. Over the course of our time as one of the leading security companies and establishments, we have built up a large client base with many contracts specialising in Manned Guarding and CCTV at the very core of our operations in the South West. SECURIST provide an affordable service; starting at larger national corporate businesses right down to local small businesses. Our service is built around the clients requirements, however small. 

Why did you start your company?

Before establishing SECURIST, I had previously worked in the security industry for five years and had seen first-hand the devastation that criminal damage, violence, theft, trespassing and fraud can cause a company and its assets. Security is a huge contributing factor to the success and happiness of a business. Yet, I felt that larger security companies were ignoring customer needs. Business and trade should not have to suffer these consequences of success, and I spotted a gap in the market for a small, high-quality, customer-service orientated security company such as SECURIST. 

Have you had any setbacks? What have you learnt from them?

Yes, my first major setback happened this year. I employed too many people at once without a plan or strategy for their work or the future of the business. Recruiting inexperienced people meant that I needed to oversee their work in order for it to be what SECURIST needed. So by being so thinly spread across numerous departments SECURIST suffered for this mistake. I have learnt a great deal from this especially that recruiting people with the right experience is top priority to enable my business to go forward.

What is the single achievement that you are most proud of?

When SECURIST first heard about ‘Living Wage’ in 2014, it was a project we immediately felt passionate about. Becoming a Living Wage employer was such a great achievement for SECURIST as we are a labour intensive business which means we go out of our way to squeeze margins to make a happy work force. SECURIST also experienced the unexpected benefit of becoming an ethical employer, in the pride felt by all of those in our head office that we were doing the best for our employees.  Our status as a living wage employer has increased our business reputation in the local community, particularly as the security industry is notoriously low paid. 

If you could start again, is there anything you would change?

This is a hard question as a lot of things could be changed, but at the time I was unable to do anything about it because of factors such as money. However if I could start again I would not be so penny pinching because I have learnt that you get what you pay for. I was so focused on trying to save money I was not seeing the real value in things. 
What would be your number one tip for someone thinking about starting their own venture?

My number one tip for someone starting their own business is…get a mentor! When first starting out it is worthwhile to invest in someone’s time to allow your business to grow. 

Do you have any big plans for 2016 that we should know about?

For the future we aim to become ACS accredited. This is an Approved Contractor Scheme governed by the Security Industry Authority (SIA). The objective of the SIA's Approved Contractor scheme is to raise performance standards and to assist the private security industry in developing new opportunities. We have achieved the NSI Gold accreditation and with this success we have seen a boost in business so I hope this is something we can achieve in 2016.

Visit the SECURIST website

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