Bit on the side: the VSU staff doing it

Most people dream of quitting their job to follow their dream – but realistically, many people start their businesses whilst still working. It may not feel ideal, especially when the energy and enthusiasm for your idea is all you can think about, but there are loads of reasons why it’s a good idea to start up whilst still in employment. That’s why we dedicated this month to the entrepreneurs balancing work commitments and their own businesses, looking at how to make it work – and also the benefits.


At Virgin StartUp, we practice what we preach. Most of the team either work on their own projects outside of work hours, or have balanced business and work in the past. Here are some examples from the team.

Mike Ruffles, Content and Social Manager at Virgin StartUp


As well as heading up the marketing and digital operations of Virgin StartUp, Mike is also part of the BeardPoo team – a startup aiming to revolutionise male grooming with a range of exciting beard shampoos and products. In between working on awesome strategy and content for us, you’ll find Mike testing formulations, working on branding, and building an audience of bearded fans.

Ian Mason, Head of Development at Virgin StartUp

Ian and Richard

Not content with overseeing the development of Virgin StartUp, Ian is also the founder of not just one other business, but seven - including an education business, supplying textbooks, workbooks and e-learning resources to schools and parents, a startup helping first-time authors publish their work, and his latest venture, a network to find and develop the leaders of the future.

Nick Coates, Loan Panel Member at Virgin StartUp

Federation coffee shop Brixton Village London, England

Nick now works full time for us, but in the early days he balanced Virgin StartUp commitments with running one of Brixton’s most-loved coffee shops, Federation Coffee. Now he uses the lessons learnt from this venture to help new startups avoid the mistakes he made in the early days, such as buying an expensive batch of rare coffee beans without actually knowing how you go about roasting them.

Jonathon Spanos, Head Business Advisor at Virgin StartUp

Jonathon Spanos has worked on many business ventures, including ToBe – an innovative sports shoe business. His entrepreneurialism saw him win a UKTI grant to come to the UK to develop the startup, which he does in addition to overseeing the work of our business advisors, each of who work with our startups to get their loan applications up to scratch.

Ernestina Hall, Head of Campaigns at Virgin


Ernestina heads up campaigns including #VOOM and balances a busy international workload with running her own jewellery business, Milk Tooth LDN, focussed on sourcing and reworking the best statement earrings around. (Read Ernestina’s tips for working more efficiently when you’re starting up and working here.)

Get the Virgin StartUp Business plan