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Pioneer of the Week: Veronique Rapetti

Thought Leader

Pioneer of the Week: Veronique Rapetti

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Tell us 3 important things we should know about you.
• I am a people person. I love meeting new people and understanding their journey. I am always fascinated by entrepreneurs’ stories of success and challenges.
• I have launched two start-ups: a B2B training business many years ago within a large international conference organiser, and I was part of the team that launched the first French radio in London called French Radio London.
• I love helping and nurturing nascent entrepreneurs by mentoring them.

Tell us about your business. How did it start? Did you set it up alone or with a team?
With the B2B training business I launched over 15 years ago, it all started with an idea. I went to my CEO and explained why we should be doing this. Fortunately, I worked in a very entrepreneurial environment and my CEO told me to “prove your idea has potential, and then you can do it full time.”

 

Whilst still doing my day job, I started researching my idea and wrote a business plan. 3 years later, I was managing a division generating over £1.5 million in revenue and had recruited up to 5 people into the team. I am proud to say this business is still operating today.

 

What do you love most about running your own business?
I like the fact you can have a direct impact in the way you shape the business. With my businesses, I loved seeing my ideas become reality. They quickly became something I was proud of and I loved working with a team of people who were really enthusiastic about the product. When we pressed the “go live” button on French Radio London, it did feel surreal.

 

Tell us about a challenging experience you’ve faced in the process of starting up your business and how you overcame it.
I was lucky to have the backing of a large organisation, so from a financial side the challenges were minimal. For me the key challenge was to go out to the market with the first product/training course - but which one? This first course would seal the fate of the whole new business unit. If successful, we knew we were onto something, if not, the future of the business would have been in jeopardy. It was a difficult decision to make. I choose the topic based on my market research and a strong gut feeling….and the rest is history.

 

What advice could you give to other startups about starting up in your industry?
At the moment there is a lot of buzz around the education sector and how it can be disrupted. The Edtech community is growing. So my advice, if you want to start in this sector is go and gain an understanding of how people are learning; how you can create an individual experience. Choose your target audience, go and talk to them to find out their needs and meet Edtech founders too.

 

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

The growth and success of my training unit laid in the fact I had spoken to so many people. I really understood their training needs, what skills they were lacking and what skills were important in their field. So when I launched my first training course, we sold out in two weeks. I made sure to stay in touch with my potential delegates and released training courses based on their needs.

 

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Many people start their businesses at home, where do you work? What do you love about it?
This is a little bit different for me, as I started within a large organisation and was working in an office as an ‘intrapreneur’. For someone on their own, considering a co-working space can be helpful as you then join a community. In education there is a London based accelerator programme for startups aiming to improve educational outcomes worldwide called Emerge Education.


What are three things you know now, that you wish someone had told you when you first started?

  • The famous concept “you become the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with”
  • Sometimes it is easy to stay in your comfort zone - but don’t. Keep learning every day, be curious.
  • Failing means you have tried and taken action, so it is a positive thing.

 

Is there anything specific you’d like to ask or share with the Virgin Media Pioneers community?
I am always interested in connecting with entrepreneurs and founders to exchange thoughts on how to grow businesses and understand the different skills-set they need to achieve this. If you want to share your story with me, I am happy to have a chat with you.

 

Finish the sentence: To be an entrepreneur is to have determination, passion, resilience and fun.

 

Connect with Veronique on Twitter and LinkedIn, or read through her blog posts on our community here