At our MeetUp, supported by our friends at Virgin Money, we met Dan Murrary-Serter, the founder of braincare startup Heights, to uncover how his personal experiences have shaped his founder journey. 

Dan was an honest and open guest in our In Conversation Series, and founders in attendance took a lot away from the evening. Find out what we learnt from Dan below:

Virgin StartUp host, Ben Keene, left and Dan Murray-Serter, right
Virgin StartUp host, Ben Keene, left and Dan Murray-Serter, right

Inspiration for your business really can come from anywhere.

It was Dan’s own experiences going through treatment for anxiety and insomnia, which set him on his founder journey to start Heights.

"I had really bad insomnia and anxiety, and I did everything I could to try and cure it. I tried meditation, sleep therapy, and sleeping pills for 6 months."

"I then got sent to a dietician who gave me supplements. So that became a really insightful moment for me and I started writing a newsletter on how to take care of your brain according to science."

"We thought it was the most intelligent thing to do and basically started to build an audience from day one. It would get us into a really interesting and practical place where we're forced every week to learn about the brain ourselves."

Great founders ask questions.  

Being a founder is uncertain and we don’t always have the answers. Collaboration is important, and you should lean on your team around you to help find those answers together. 

"Entrepreneurship is just a place I never get bored, but..I think there's a misconception that people think founders have all of the answers. I was consistently trying to prove that I had the answers. But actually, great founders ask questions." 

Heights founder Dan Murray-Serter

Founders will always have doubts, just like everyone else

Dan opened up about his mental health and tells us that he still sometimes suffers from imposter syndrome.

"Where I am on my journey is still complicated, I'm still battling my mind. But I'm committed to helping entrepreneurs understand what it's like to build a company in the moment!"

Dan says that feeling grateful is a positive habit to practice to help overcome feeling insecure. 

"I'm very deliberate about gratitude. It sounds ridiculous, but it's completely true - I wake up every single morning and before I've done anything at all, I say 'I'm really grateful for waking up today'. I built that habit,"

"A grateful mind and an abundant mindset really positively impacts your mental health. Good mental health to me is in two parts. One is your mind, the second is your brain."

"If you don't have good, optimised brain health, you will struggle to have good, optimised mental health. It's not my opinion, it's scientific fact."

Creating a purposeful culture and brand values is key.

If you're building a startup which aims to help people with their nutrition, lifestyle or wellbeing, it's important that your customers can trust you. Trust can only be earned, never bought, and at Heights, Dan has built a culture which helps cement the brand's relationship with its audience. 

"All of our customer service team are trained nutritionists or dieticians. No compromise."

Dan also spoke about how as a business, Heights goes to the 'nth degree' - for example he only sources the best ingredients for their product range.

"A founder should do every job in the business before they can actually tell other people to do it. Hopefully, you're the worst at doing them as well, otherwise you've done a bad job at hiring!"

"I've learnt all sorts of lessons, but the main lesson prior to Heights was to be super honest."

What did you take away from the MeetUp? Share your thoughts on social media using the hashtag #vsumeetup and join the conversation.

Thanks to Virgin Money, our MeetUp events are free to attend, providing thousands of early-stage founders with the support they need to start and scale businesses in the UK.

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.

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