As part of our popular Meet the Successful Founder series we recently caught up with Charlotte Pearce, founder of Inkpact to learn about her entrepreneurship journey.
I have been business minded my whole life. When I was about 16, I was buying and selling things on ebay. I ran a lemonade business called Absolute Lemons. However, my big turning point was when I ran a social enterprise called Enactus Southampton. We had 150 people in the team, 13 businesses around the world and worked with over 30,000 people. We ran social projects; everything from a solar lamp business to Eco friendly toilets, to helping ex-military build businesses in the UK. It was doing this I fell in love with business with a purpose, where I got the chance to run a big team, speak across the world and love what I did every day. From there I was learning how to scale Enactus Southampton when I came up with the idea for Inkpact completely by accident.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
I was invited along to an ActionCoach training day to learn how to grow Enactus Southampton and in the training day there was a section allocated to marketing for coaches. There was a lot of people talking about needing to contact busy CEO’s but emails weren’t working. One man mentioned how he loved sending handwritten letters, they got read, opened and responded to, but that they couldn’t send more than 5 at a time and everyone hated writing them.
I worked with 30,000 people across the world who wanted an income, and I knew some would have good handwriting so offered to get 100 written for one of the coaches. My cousin and some students wrote the first 100, and he got 33/100 people in for a coffee or a call. It was the best marketing he’d ever done, and I remember him saying to me if you can scale this you are onto a winner. So, that’s what I set about doing – creating a service and system that moves people’s lives forward through writing, that enables brands to connect on a human level and to be the first company that could send hundreds of thousands of handwritten letters across the world.
How did you achieve awareness?
In the early days no one knew me or the business or if it was even a feasible business model. I turned up to every event in London, I worked really hard to grow my network and the first few clients were all connections of people who backed me and wanted to help introduce us to brands.
We started to gain momentum, won awards, got a few big name clients and it started to spiral from there. The network of incredible founders has been key for me, they’ve helped us grow, develop and have been crucial to our awareness in the early days but also as we continue to grow even now.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
Yes, we raised £1.3m from angel investors, some of the best entrepreneurs in the country and we were also on the accelerator, Wayra. This funding allowed us to build our tech, which has enabled us to scale, it allowed us to invest in our team and learn who our customers really are. In the last few years, we’ve focused on building our revenue, becoming experts at what we do and investing in operations ready for some serious scale. The next step – go global.
What are the key successes?
- Our scribe tribe of 700+ scribes. They are the backbone of the company and the work they do is amazing. We help provide them with extra income, community and purpose.
- Sending notes to over 150 countries in 5 languages.
- Seeing my teams faces on a Friday team meeting when we’re smashing targets, they love their job and are learning and growing.
- Every time a scribe tells us what it means for them to work with us, whether it’s having the confidence to apply for a job after an illness, affording days out with their kids, finally paying of their debt, funding college, whatever it is the fact we helped facilitate it is amazing.
- Working with some of the best brands in the world, like Facebook, Sweaty Betty, John Lewis and many more but specifically when they email us saying their customers day was made, or it drove them millions of pounds in extra revenue or when it’s shared on social brightening peoples day!
- The fact it really works, our clients get incredible results that they have never seen in other CRM activities.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
How long have you got? Ha-ha, I mean there are so many challenges – daily. But we approach challenges with a hugely positive mindset – we love challenges because it means we are moving and growing, if there are no challenges, you’re doing something wrong.
The biggest challenges for me have been around funding, finding the right investors who get what we do and who we are. There have been a few times we’ve been very close to running out of money, especially in the early days.
We overcame this with a big belief in what we do and holding ourselves to a high standard, only surrounding ourselves with amazing people and asking for advice. The other challenges have been around finding a great team, one negative person, or one person who doesn’t fit the culture can really affect a whole team!
We knew that handwritten notes worked well, but we had to figure out how to scale the idea. loving other aspects of your life also.
This is where our Scribe Tribe was born – the idea of people sitting at their kitchen tables across the country, all writing exactly what the client wanted, in beautiful quality handwriting, on the client’s branded stationery. But to make this happen, tech was required. This is why I partnered with my co-founder, Andrew, who built tech which enables us to do what we do today.
Balancing quality and social impact is an ongoing challenge – we want to give as many people as possible a chance to be in the Scribe Tribe, especially those who need it most, but also need to deliver quality campaigns, with amazing handwriting, for our clients. We therefore try and recruit from worthy causes – charities, acting forums and mums groups, but get all prospective scribes to submit a handwriting sample before they are accepted. It’s a tricky balance to strike, but we are always looking for an overlap between people with amazing handwriting, and people who are in need of what we do.
Obviously like for everyone, COVID-19 created a brand new challenge for us – home addresses. At the time, most of our clients were B2B business, who sent handwritten notes to the office addresses of their clients. However, with everyone working from home, they could no longer use our services as they didn’t have their clients’ home addresses. We therefore flipped our business model from B2B clients, to B2C. This was a huge undertaking during such a challenging time, creating a new pipeline of B2C clients from scratch.
And finally a personal challenge has been to step back sometimes, empower others, trust others and coach and empower them to run the business, not just do everything myself. Hire people that are smarter than you. This is the key to scaling and also the key to being able to balance work with
What are your plans now/for the future?
We could not be more excited about the future for Inkpact. In the last 2 years we’ve focused on our clients, we have become experts in CRM and retail, and we are scaling that globally. Our aim is thousands of scribes moving their lives forward through writing, working with hundreds of brands and building a £100m business in the next 5 years.
We have 4 groups of people to win for. We must win for our scribes, win for our clients, win for their customers and win for us as a team. Every action we take as to benefit each of those groups of people.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
You won’t be perfect, in fact you won’t even be great to start with, but you just must start! Write the first blog, build the first thing, launch the first website, you will look back and think damn that was awful, but it doesn’t matter – you just simply have to get things moving.
Then work really really hard on you, your development in life and business – get coaches, mentors, have therapy, go to courses, read, listen to podcasts, and the most important thing in my eyes is surround yourself with superstars. Then when you are growing and seeing success always remember to pass it along, inspire others, hold yourself to account and always think of yourself as a beginner.
Can you share you top 5-10 tips for entrepreneurial success?
Work really hard on yourself in all areas of your life
Never forget to have fun!
Hire really really smart ambitious people who care about the world
Go with your gut, especially about people, investors etc.
Don’t get it perfect, just get it out there
Work on the business not in it.
Know your numbers.
Don’t underestimate time in your diary to think and reflect.
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most?
Some of our investors and board
Simon Rogerson – Founder of the octopus group, his care for people and business, he gets sh*it done attitude and the fact he always makes time to pick up the phone, he’s been an amazing mentor to me and Inkpact, and this is just the start.
Tamara Lohan – She has backed me/Inkpact from the start, she’s an incredible, powerful lovely women who has shown me you can have a family, travel the world, care about people, grow a huge business! She’s always there to chat to and cares deeply about how we’re doing.
Tom Reding. His attitude to growth at Brewdog coupled with his deep desire to always grow and develop his teams with compassion, he’s been integral to our mission and vision at Inkpact. He’s always pushing himself to the next challenge, be it multiplying revenue or doing an iron man, he always does it with a positive attitude and smile on his face whilst having fun.
People I don’t know but would really love to
Oprah – cares so much about people, understands how humans work and is using her big voice and companies for some real change. I also love her spiritual teachings and her philosophies have helped me greatly in all areas of my life.
Tony Robbins. I have been to all his events, read his books and listened to his podcasts, he’s been by my side motivating me since I was 14! He helps me think big and constantly work on who I am.
Brene Brown’s work on vulnerability and courage has been the cornerstone to who I am, leading bold and powerfully but full of vulnerability and heart. Her books are a must read – so is her Netflix doc.
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be – Maya Angelo
If you are not growing, you are dying – Tony Robbins
Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome.”
What are your social handles and website links so our readers can connect with you?