4 March 2021|Latest Posts, Meet the Successful Founder
Deirdre McGettrick is the Founder and CEO of the UK’s leading search and comparison website for home furniture and furnishings, ufurnish.com
The website brings together 100+ leading retailers and over one millions of their products, all in one place. The idea for ufurnish.com was born out of her own frustration whilst trying to turn her dream home into a reality. After a successful career in investment banking, she took the leap, raised £2.3m in funding and became a tech CEO in 2018 – and is on a mission to change the way we all shop for our homes. Having won New Entrepreneur of the Year at the 2020 Lloyds Bank National Business Awards, and being shortlisted as a Tech Nation Rising Star for 2021, Deirdre is making ufurnish.com THE destination website for everyone to search, discover, compare and shop furniture for their homes.
What would you love to share to encourage other women to start their own company?
I feel passionate about empowering more women to start their own businesses. Women are 50% of the economy and we have the best insights into serving that market. I regularly share my story with other women in the hope that they will feel empowered to follow their dreams. I like to think, if I can do it, so can all the other amazing women out there. You are going to hear ‘No’ a lot more than you will hear ‘Yes’ in the early days. Do not take it personally, everyone is entitled to their opinion, it’s not a personal attack (even though it may sometimes feel like it). Every time it happens, dust yourself off and get back up and running. Take any lessons from the rejection, could I have approached it differently or phrased it in another way. If I had to face the same challenge again, what would I change? All experiences in life, both good and bad, give you the opportunity to grow stronger and become better so always ensure you move forward with more wisdom.
What are your top 5 tips for entrepreneurial success?
Find a great co-founder – someone who is as passionate about the business idea as you are and someone who can entirely trust. I found my co-founder in my now husband which has worked out really well as neither of us is ever let down when we cancel plans to work (which probably makes us a little sad!). My co-founder Ray has a different background and skill set that is complementary to mine, ideally, you want a different skill set so you can divide and conquer tasks. This is where trust is key so you can let them go off and make decisions in other areas to progress the business as quickly as possible.
Network, network, network – During 2020, ufurnish.com has grown to 16 team members, from just two co-founders, at the start of 2020. 7 of our team we met through our network, not only avoiding recruitment costs but also ensuring they come with high recommendations from people we trust. Your network is the most valuable place to get advice from fellow business owners, your investors and other stakeholders. We raised our £1.8m seed investment round entirely from individual investors that we met through our network.
Seek out criticism and listen hard – while many people will tell you what you want to hear to your face, seek out those who disagree with you, listen to what they say and learn about risks you may have overlooked and find new opportunities from what they say. You want people who are not afraid to disagree with you. Have a network of advisors you can go to for advice and make sure these are not all “yes” people.
There are no shortcuts, no one will do it for you – These are two misconceptions you’ll often hear. Have you ever heard someone ask “Did you hear that X company grew into a unicorn overnight?” The reality is that the ‘overnight success’ actually took years to build but often people only see the visible part rather than the time spent building the foundations. Think of it like an iceberg, only a small percentage is visible above the water. The second part of this misconception is that people put their belief in others to make their business dream a reality. “If only I could get on X incubator or get Y as an investor, my business will be a success”. While there is no doubt that certain incubators or investors can be extremely helpful, they won’t be a magical solution. You need to be the driving force to make your business the success you believe it can be.
Everything takes longer than you think – From the first idea to the execution and all the steps in between, double or triple the amount of time you think it will take. When evaluating a timescale, try and use any insights from previous tasks to analyze possible set-backs. Anticipate what could go wrong and have a plan B ready. The most important thing is building your past experiences into future task timeframes to reduce uncertainty.
Who are the 5 women who inspire you the most?
Claire Gilmartin – Former CEO of Trainline
Avril Palmer – Baunack CEO British Car Auction
Whitney Wolfe Herd – Bumble founder and CEO
Christine Lagarde – President ECB
Sophie Hinchliffe aka “Mrs. Hinch”
What is your favourite saying/inspirational quote?
“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken” — Oscar Wilde
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