These are a few interview style questions that we put to Tom Martin about how he finds time and energy to balance his start-up, Captoria, with side projects and a rocking social life.
Entrepreneurship and start-up projects are a big talking point right now with a move away from faceless corporate jobs towards the dream of ‘making your stamp on your industry’. But what is it really like for a young adult trying to make their way in an ever-condensing market of brands and influencers? Read Tom’s answers to find out more.
What is your role now and what are the main responsibilities for you?
When you start any business, I think it’s hard to define a job title. The very nature of starting a business means your role must be multidisciplinary. Even with Tom Martin London – a shamefully named pet project I started when I was undertaking my GCSE’s (naturally, this was a good few years ago now), I still couldn’t give myself a title. With Captoria, a much newer project, it’s harder still to find an objective role, although it is safe to say I’m certainly not an engineer or a coder!
I come very much from a creative angle. I love art, design, craftsmanship. Engineers, to me, are modern day craftsmen and women and I have huge admiration for what they do, yet I suppose my primary role is to direct the small team around me, and indeed myself, into the right direction. To find an aim on the horizon, asses how I believe we should make our way there, then build the right gang to help you along the way. It’s then my role to keep everything on the straight and narrow: from the investment you make, the consistency of the brand, to the product you put out there and subsequently market.
It’s juggling a very awkward set of clubs. Sometimes though, you just so happen to create that perfect arch.
How long have you been doing this for and what did you do before?
Unlike Tom Martin London, whose birthday was very much July 2010, Captoria doesn’t really have a birthday. We will of course make one, though… any excuse for a birthday shindig. I have always, apart from the last few months, worked on my own projects alongside University. I’ve just completed an MPhil degree in Real Estate Finance and before that I studied Real Estate Management. It’s a natural progression to jump from property to technology and retail, right?
While clearly the similarities are somewhat indistinctive, I have attempted to draw parallels in the subject matter. While Captoria is predominantly known for images with sound, the content is highly location based. Just as property sits on land, so can a piece of content. Okay, who am I kidding, there’s little similarity.
Can you think of any key challenges you had to overcome and how did you battle them to get to where you are?
When a business is small, I think any big challenges are (luckily) few and far between. Or you’re small and flexible enough to navigate around them. In terms of a general challenge, however, as Tom Martin London grew and our stock seemed to explode, I was still trying to squeeze it into my parents dining room… when you receive a delivery of a very large number of very large and equally heavy boxes, trying to fit them into and organise them in any empty room is a challenge!
How did I overcome it this obstacle? Move the table to the side, buy my Mum some flowers and keep my Dad in the dark.
What is the dream, or where would you like to see yourself in five or ten years?
Walt Disney once said “If you can dream it, you can do it”. I suppose I’ll just keep doing it.
How do you find balancing lifestyle and downtime with your job?
A small part of me would love to say I find it difficult. Interestingly, the thought of not finding time to have fun with your friends has become the standard for being busy and therefore, in some odd realm, a good thing. Fortunately for me, it’s not the case. I love what I do and try to incorporate my friends into it. If I go out a drink, I’ll run an idea past them. Tom Martin London is opening a pop-up shop in Chelsea in December, and as soon as I told my close friends, they offered their help. If your work is your lifestyle and your job is a pleasure, then there’s not much missing, really.
If you could give one piece of advice to a young spark looking to start their business, what would that be?
Follow what you think is right. What often happens is individuals look for similarities in the way they’re thinking with people who have already succeeded, I think this is wrong. The chances are, these individuals have succeeded because they pursued a path which they felt was right and often different to the consensus at the time. If one simply copies, albeit with an honourable intention, they won’t be doing anything different. Our world moves so fast nowadays, there isn’t time to replicate past examples. You have to do what you think is right at the time. As long as you know the industry and the people you’re targeting and working with, you’ll find your path.
And finally, what do you think is the best part about being an upcoming, self-employed business owner right now?
The best thing is also the worst: being at the centre of a rapidly shifting landscape. Industries are overlapping, the technology world is evolving with many exciting possibilities. With this come amazing opportunities.
Equally, however, ideas can often seem overwhelming when you realise you stand in the shadow of some powerful competition. Therefore, go grab a torch, because the shadows can sometimes get dark.
Always the realist, thank you for giving us a sneak peek into the world behind the beautiful shop front of your retail project and the polished brand of Captoria. We can’t wait to hear all about what you get up to in the future, so don’t be a stranger!
Are you an Entrepreneur and have tips or advice on how to overcome challenges in the working world? Let us know by talking to us on Twitter!
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