Rishi Chowdhury: My Startup Story

In July 2013 myself and a colleague at my old company, Huddle, decided that buying a bus would be a good idea. So good in fact that a couple months later I had left my job and was back on the startup journey!

It took a year of work in understanding the market, how we position ourselves, develop a really strong programme and raise the funding to buy and renovate the bus.

In May 2014 we raised the full £50,000 that we needed and my co-founder George joined me full time. The wheels started rolling as we launched with our first proper incubator in September 2014. It was hosted on our bus, full time for 3 months. It started in the summer months and we learnt how to keep the bus warm as we entered the winter months.

At this point everything was done by myself and George. After one programme we went straight onto the next one, which again was hosted in Camden on the bus, where we were parked up next to the famous Hawley Arms pub.
The programme had expanded, we took on more teams and then even moved into an office! Our team expanded to, as we added two interns to the team. Now not only could we do more, we could provide a better experience for our teams.

The programme ended and another began, just a few weeks later. This time we upgraded offices again, as the bus started its journey from conference to conference and hosting event after event. Our teams even started using the bus for their own marketing campaigns.

We were hitting breaking point as the programmes grew even bigger and the number of events swelled as did bus bookings.

That’s when we decided it was time to hire a team to make the most of the opportunities we were getting as well as to improve the current activities we had going on. We grew from 2 full time and 2 interns to 7 full time in a matter of months.

Now we had a team it became clear very quickly that processes had to be put in place to ensure we keep moving forward as a well-oiled machine.

Process, process, process, was what I heard from George for weeks on end. As much as I hated it, I knew he was right. As we all got used to the new tools and processes in place I began to love what I once hated. When you see the results, you’ll be turned.

No more time wasted asking, looking, duplicating – Training up employees was faster, they got in to the swing of things faster and could do their jobs more effectively thanks to proper sales processes, updated CRM’s and organised documents. Now it wasn’t perfect and it still isn’t but it is helping us progress with less resistance and it will continue to be tweaked and improved as the business continues.

Processes take more time to set up but ultimately are in place to save time in the long run!

It is a continuous learning process though and you will more than likely swing between too much process and not enough. With tweaks you’ll find what works best. Tom Fishburne puts the process pendulum nicely in the cartoon below:

Fishburne cartoon - processes pendulum

How did we ever do without processes?!

Now as we head towards a new year and a brand new programme with PwC we are confident that we won’t be coming up against resistance from poor internal processes and know that we can go and maximise our effort on giving our new cohort an incredible & valuable experience. The bus is going from strength to strength! It has even done its first European tour now and we’re looking to continue that with another one next year.

Each day continues to bring new challenges as we continually review and add new processes where needed to keep us working faster and ensure our team have all they need to make the best decisions.

Written by Rishi Chowdhury, co-founder, IncubusLondon