Virgin StartUp is celebrating its third birthday on Thursday! To mark the occasion we decided to get in touch with some of our earliest supported startups, and see how they’re doing now.

Darcy Ida is the founder of Ida Pod, a photobooth service that provides everything you need to make your party or event stand out. One of the first startups to work with us, Darcy received a £5,800 Start Up Loan from Virgin StartUp. Here she speaks about her business journey.

How it began

When you’re a startup founder, a typical day is anything but typical. It can range from party planning to cold-calling potential new customers. To think that I owe all this to my 2012 wedding! The lightbulb moment came four years ago after meticulously researching entertainment options for my wedding reception. Amongst the options was a photobooth.

To cut a long story short my guests and I loved it so much that six months later I had my first booth up and running. Four years later and I operate a successful, debt-free business with two photobooths and eight members of staff, as well as being a mother to a toddler.

Ida Pod - 3 years on

Where we are now 

It’s a Sunday morning and I’m on my way to a much-needed spa day in Henlow, My husband and I are having a rare spontaneous day away together without our 22-month-old daughter. Earlier that morning I had realised it was my company’s 4th birthday. Time really does fly when you’re working on something as exciting as a startup business.

The last few weeks have been exhausting - school prom season is over for another year.  This year we were lucky enough to get 19 school prom bookings for the business. Despite being mentally and physically exhausted, I’m so pleased with the hard work that my entire team has done throughout this period. Aside from the festive period, the school prom season is our busiest time and resources are stretched to capacity.

Advice for other startups

The fear of failure is always at the back of my mind.  It drives my motivation to keep growing the business, make improvements and come up with new ideas. So when I think about the word failure - I see it in the positive sense. It drives success. No bad can come from striving to succeed.

The most important advice I can give to others wanting to start a new business would centre on two things - time management and cashflow.

Time management: Making the best use of your time on a day-to-day basis will require structure, preparation and planning. If you’re a mother of a young child, like me, I often find drafting emails at night whilst the little one is sleeping saves so much time the next day. 

Cash flow: Keep a close eye on what money is going in and out of the business. I keep a written record of all my incomings and outgoings, which encourages me to question how necessary each business purchase is.

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