Interview with James Harford-Tyrer, Founder & CEO of Cudoni - a luxury resale service in the UK.
An inspirational story, of a man who grew up with a business-ready mind. Read about how James Harford-Tyrer founded Cudoni, a new luxury resale service in the UK. He was previously the COO of a tech SME backed by Lebara Mobile, and set up his first business from his parents’ garage, when he was 12 years old.
Hi James. Thanks for contributing to the Introvert Thoughts Blog - Business Spotlight. My readers will be especially interested in hearing your business journey and background. Talk us through it.
I started my first business at 12 years old, in my parents’ garage in Manchester. A few years later, at 16, I won my first business competition.
Once I’d graduated from Durham University, I spent a short time working in trading at UBS Investment Bank, before settling into the role of COO at a tech start-up backed by Lebara Mobile. This was following an offer to join the New Entrepreneurs Foundation, which is the UK’s leading entrepreneurial programme, backed by institutions like McKinsey and Cambridge University.
From then on, my focus has been on Cudoni.
Tell us what it was like in your first week or two of starting your own business.
The first few weeks were thrilling. They didn’t come without their challenges, but it was invigorating to take those first steps towards running a company. It’s an incredible feeling.
Business funding is always on entrepreneurs' minds. How did you fund Cudoni?
When I started Cudoni - or SellSprint, as it was known then - I was working on my own. Now, almost one year to the date, there are 16 people in the business and we’re looking to hire five more by the end of the year.
Over the last eight weeks, we’ve also grown the business sevenfold in sales and expanded our customer database. As a result, we need more space to operate and have moved into a state-of-the-art office with a new, private warehouse. This will help us develop Cudoni further, as well as allow us to continue providing first class service to our customers.
None of this would have been possible without the funding and support from our experienced investors. These include entrepreneurs such as Matt Cooper, Founder of Capital One and Chairman of Octopus Investments, Giles Brook, the CEO of Vita Coco and Paul Schneider, Global Head of Product at Exane BNP Paribas, amongst others.
Who supported your business ideas the most?
My mother. She's encouraged my every endeavour and has always pushed me hard to succeed. There have been highs and lows, and she's shared it all with me, offering her advice and support throughout.
Tell us how we can get past the 12 month mark if we want to start a business? What kind of tips should business owners' bear in mind?
Cudoni was developed based on three main factors; market research, feedback received from our first customers – whom we sourced with a clear plan in place – and valuable advice from business mentors.
My top recommendations to budding entrepreneurs would be to:
1) Maintain a strong support network.
2) Find and talk to other business owners, those who have succeeded but also those who have failed. Accelerator programmes are a great way to do this, including FFWD and the Accelerator Academy, one of Europe’s top three tech programmes. I’ve been fortunate enough to take part in both, and the fantastic support provided helped me develop the business.
3) Work with smart people who will push you and challenge your thinking.
Personally, I have gained a lot of insight and matured as an entrepreneur through my interactions with experienced business leaders such as Anthony Preston, the founder of Pets at Home. He's a giving and humble person, as well as a very successful businessman.
James Harford-Tyrer is the Founder & CEO of Cudoni, a new luxury resale service in the UK. He was previously the COO of a tech SME backed by Lebara Mobile, and set up his first business from his parents’ garage, when he was 12 years old.