When your parents are both Entrepreneurs, you don’t have any choice. It’s already in your veins, you must be an Entrepreneur. That’s what Piers Ridyard did and this is the reason why we have met him for our “A Beer With” series. More than a year ago, he was struggling to have more space on his MacBook and he couldn’t find a solution to it. For this reason, he came up with The Nifty Mini Driver.
The Nifty MiniDrive is a “simple, seamless, plug & play storage for your MacBook”. With the MiniDrive, you can add up to 64Gb of storage without even noticing that you have plugged it to your Mac. Once you have plugged in, you will forget about it.
This was the main idea that Piers and his Co-Founder Steve had; they wanted to enable people have more storage on their Macs without even noticing the change. For this reason, they chose to see if Kickstarter could have helped them. They started to think of how much money they should have raised in order to produce the first prototypes and ship them all over the world, the math wasn’t simple, but in the end they set their goal to $11,000.
It was a blind game and the internet, made of thousands of backers, was on the other side. As Piers recalls, he went to bed and woke up with several hundred emails that were notifying him about the new backers that bet on his project. After just ten hours they broke their $11,000 goal. The game was in and they had to start to think a way to build a company. In 28 days, they were able to raise $384,319 by 9,805 people. Before starting to ship their product, they already had a user base that was waiting for their idea to become true.
Thanks to Kickstarter, they moved to China for a while in order to find a producer and start a real assembly line, which could help them to ship the massive amount of MiniDrives that were ordered through the crowdfunding platform. After setting it up, they came back and they started shipping it. They firstly had some problems with the first version of the product, that’s why they sent another MiniDrive to the backers who weren’t happy about it. In a year, more than 90% of the backers have successfully received a functional MiniDrive and the last 10% is waiting for a replacement.
What impressed me was the fact that Piers and Steve didn’t have any technical skill, which could have helped them through the building process. However they were and are good sellers and business guys, who know what to do at the right moment. In 14 months since they launched on kickstarter, they have shipped more than 25,000 devices all over the world. Further they have also started selling the product on their website with the aim to expand their user base to new people. As soon as they started selling, they sold out in a brief period of time.
After a first investment, they have placed their company at the Techhub in Manchester, where the main decisions are taken. The company has got eight employees and its currently hiring. We asked Piers how many hours he’s working a day and he replied saying 16, with a smile. If you believe in what you are doing, you will work as much as you want. If he’s lucky, he works an average of 14 hours a day.
In the future, Piers wants to build more products with the same brand; but at the moment, they want to make the MiniDrive right. There are a lot of opportunities out there, but the MiniDrive is not ready yet to walk on its own knees. Nevertheless, there are still “pretty crazy ideas that no one has thought of”, as he said.
We also asked him several startup advices for Young Entrepreneurs who want to have a huge impact. The first one is “build something instead of writing presentations and business plans”. We completely agree with him, you firstly need a minimal viable product before talking about having a startup and sharing an idea. Entrepreneurship is a matter of building stuff, not wasting your time and chatting. That’s why Steve Wozniak pointed out the fact that if you are not technical, you will need to find a builder.
His second advice was on money. “If you don’t need to spend money, don’t use them”. In the startup stage, money play a big role and the best thing to do is not to worry about them by not spending anything. There is “no sense in buying a new computer” or getting the latest tools for developers. As he suggested, there is the Bizpark program, runned by Microsoft, which can give you access to developing tools for more than a year. The right moment to spend money comes after your company has solid grounds and a flourishing future.
We also wanted to know how he found his own Co-Founder, because there are dozens of people who are struggling to find the right guy. He didn’t have an answer, because Steve was his friend and when he told him the idea, his answer was “I want to be in, let’s do it”. In the majority of the cases, you don’t need a technical Co-Founder or the smartest guy on campus; you need to find a guy who believes in what you believe.
Regarding Manchester, he believes that it will be a huge tech city in the next future. The BBC has moved in Manchester and many other startups are growing here at the Techhub or at the Innovation Centre. I pointed out the fact that London is a much better place for startups, but he wondered which billion dollar startup was buit in London in the last years; my answer was “no one”. Living in a place where the startup scene is well established can be a plus, because it can be one of the most stimulating experiences of your life in terms of connections; but it’s not a requirement.
We had a lot of fun chatting with Piers and this is not going to be our last episode of “A Beer With”. If you want to be interviewed, just drop us a message.