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Pioneer of the Week: Nigel Richardson from Secret Hamper

Community Manager

Pioneer of the Week: Nigel Richardson from Secret Hamper

Nigel Richardson @SecretHamper escaped the city life to create  a superhero styled box hamper service called Secret Hamper. We find out what it was like to completely change sectors and start a socially-minded business.

 

Introduce you and your business in one sentence.

Nigel RichardspnNigel RichardspnHi, I’m Nigel Richardson, founder of Secret Hamper – the home of Random Acts of Kindness.

 

Tell us two interesting facts about you.

  • Since watching the Space Shuttle take off on a TV at school I’ve always wanted to be an astronaut.
  • I once entertained Leonardo Di Caprio when he was in London to support his friend Tobey Maguire’s premiere of Spiderman. He didn’t want to steal the limelight from Tobey at the premiere so I met him for a few beers at the after-show party whilst the it was still being screened.

How did you start your business?

We launched the business by going on a week-long tour of England handing out free samples of our hampers to Maternity Wards, Care Homes, Students and Animal Rescue Centres. We coincided the launch with a local fundraising event that we participated in where we had 74 other local businesses sponsor an ad space on the Hampervan for £50 with all proceeds going to the charity. We were awarded top fundraiser and got some great PR.

 

What made you start your business?

I’ve always had a desire to be my own boss, but found myself working in the City and before I knew it years had passed. I felt disillusioned and unfulfilled but the desire to start my own business had never gone away. When an opportunity for voluntary redundancy came along I grabbed it with both hands. I knew that my next role would involve giving back in some way. After seeing the Co-Op’s Christmas ad in 2015 the idea for Secret Hamper was born.

 

What do you love most about being an entrepreneur?

I love the fact that no two days are the same. Now I have a new love of Monday’s, not that I really switch off at the weekends but it is important to have some quality family time. I like that I get to meet lots of different people on a weekly basis and having the opportunity to get out there and make things happen, it’s like my life has gone from being very predictable to going on an adventure of a lifetime. Yes, it’s not been all plain sailing, in fact it’s been quite a rollercoaster ride but it’s been worth every minute.

 

What has been the biggest challenge for you so far?

My biggest challenge so far is managing my time effectively, cash flow and getting the concept out to the masses.

 

Can you share an experience that really helped you take your business forward?

In August 2016 I entered a twitter competition called #SBS (Small Business Sunday, I encourage everyone to enter) run by ex-Dragon’s Den star Theo Paphitis. We were chosen as one of his 6 weekly winners and that gave me a huge confidence boost.

 

We got some great coverage in the local press and our social media following doubled overnight. Theo went on to place an order for a batch of hampers to be sent into a children’s hospice he’s patron of on Valentine’s Day that had a positive impact on some young people’s lives.

 

Where do you work from?

I used to work in the City and had to leave home at 4:30am to drive to Canary Wharf every day. Now my commute is a 5 minute walk or 2 minute scoot on my Micro Scooter to a unit that we have on a local business park.

 

What do you wish you knew when you first started in business?

I wish I knew that everything for a start-up costs roughly three times more than you’d budgeted for. I wished I known how lonely it can get at times and the amount of sleepless nights I’d have. That said I wouldn’t swap it. I have learnt some amazing life skills and met some inspirational people over the last 18 months that would never have happened in my job.

 

What are your top three tips for your industry?

  • Do your research, is there a need for your product or service.
  • Be different, what will make you stand out from the crowd, know your USP.
  • As Richard Branson says, does your business enrich the lives of others? If not then find a way that it could have a positive impact.

What’s the latest news for Secret Hamper?

We have some exciting developments on the horizon, in the short term we are just finalising the Ts&Cs with a major well-known brand to collaborate with for a Christmas campaign to help the elderly.

 

In the new year, we aim to add some new product lines, launch a student subscription and launch a digital version of Secret Hamper, whereby you could potentially send a Random Act of Kindness anywhere in the world at the touch of a button. We already have a long list of preferred partners and who knows we may even be able to add Virgin to that list! We are also looking into the feasibility of launching our own cryptocurrency.

 

What would you like to ask the Voom Pioneers community?

We are spoilt for choice with funding options these days, to a point that its really quite confusing. If you were at a stage that you wanted to fundraise what route would you take?