Our MeetUp Panel
Our MeetUp panel

What can we do as founders to make 2023 a success? 

Enter host Ben Keene and a trio of founders to help at our recent MeetUp. Taking the sting out of the biting economic climate and giving advice to help you to get into gear for next year were:

  • Jamie McCloskey, co-founder of Love Corn
  • Steph Buttery, founder of Chu Lo Drinks 
  • Sam Lehane, founder of MYO London and Head of Operations at Virgin StartUp

With live questions coming in from our audience, there was a feast of top tips and behind the scenes knowledge that were shared. But here are some of the best bits for you to read before the full video is available on your YouTube.

Remember to subscribe so you don’t miss out on any new free resources that are added to our growing bank of startup MeetUps, webinars and online sessions.


Be prepared but let your product speak for itself

Foodpreneur, Jamie, spoke to us about the importance of staying true to your values and why, no matter what, your product should be able to stand alone. 

"We worked across all of 2016 to build out the brand and products," he explained. Jamie told us more about the development of Love Corn and if in fact the flavours were not spot on, they would not even be considered to be put on the shelves.

 "The product selling itself is one of the most important things in business."

What consumers may not think about is all the hard work before the bigger deals come in, before you see products in store and before you are actually able to get the first taste.

"A lot went on behind the scenes before getting a meeting with Sainsburys," he added, "It's a brutal industry to be in."

But how do you know if your idea will be successful to the public? Jamie revealed that the biggest confidence came from consumer testing. If you can do this with your product, start there!

Looking at going all in 

When you’re thinking about entering the startup world or breaking into a new industry, it can be daunting, with a lot of competition already having built solid foundations in the same ecosystem.

But remember, every big business starts small in the exact same position as you and your startup are at right now.

Steph told us that thinking ahead is a must if you are seriously thinking about becoming a full-time founder.

Before she left the navy to pursue her Chu Lo Drinks adventure she  made sure she had 6 months worth of money to keep her going, to fall back on and support her.

“Figure out how much money you will need to pull you through and create a roadmap," 
Steph advised based on her own experience.

If you’re being put off by the current economic climate, or feel like you are procrastinating waiting for a “better time” to begin your founder journey, Jamie had some interesting truths that may help you out.

"A lot of products actually do really well in a recession," he said, "So if it's right, go all in!"

What a lot of our founders have said in many of our MeetUps is that  there’s never a “perfect” time. So weigh up what you need to do and if it feels right - go for it. 

Virgin StartUp have lots of support, guidance and tools to help you in your journey - check out our website for more information about Start Up Loans and our mentoring community.

When the going gets tough

Spoiler! Building a business from the ground up will always have its challenges alongside the brilliant breakthroughs and successes.

But how do our founders cope with this?

Samuel Lehane revealed that for him, a morning routine does the trick. Simple but effective.

“Having an hour at the start of the day, doing some breath work and getting positive energy for the day," he says helps. "I also try to do lots of things I used to enjoy as a child, like music, watching Chelsea - I think I became too much of an adult."

Similarly, Steph said that she lets off steam by making sure she has hobbies in her routine too. Her weekly netball practice takes her out of the office and the house, away from the busy work environment that startup life can so often create.

"Surrounding yourself with people who hold you accountable is also so important,” Steph said. She explained that  finding the right balance not only in your environment but in your community and people is key.

For Jamie, it’s even closer to home, with his brother also being his co-founder.  

“My brother is always there as a soundboard," Jamie said.

The people we surround ourselves with, are often the people we are most influenced by. Does your circle reflect your purpose, attitude and mission? 

There are so many more insights and inside knowledge in the full MeetUp video, so subscribe to our YouTube channel so you’re first to know when it’s available to watch. 

Virgin Money are here to disrupt the status quo. They want everyone to have a much happier relationship with money. They provide a full range of banking products, services and digital solutions to help founders at every stage of their business journey. Find out more by visiting their website.

Virgin StartUp MeetUp events are designed for digital and delivered monthly. To be amongst the first to hear about upcoming events and more, sign up to our newsletter.

Virgin Money Logo