Virgin StartUp Secret Santa: the results


Connections are vital when it comes to starting up your own business. Meeting people is a great way to swap ideas and brainpower, discover awesome opportunities, and to make friends too.


Before Christmas we decided to get into the festive spirit with our own Virgin StartUp Secret Santa, where businesses that we funded would be matched. Instead of small gifts, however, we decided the best gift that our startups could swap would be the gift of knowledge! All our startups had to do was swap a business tip. This way they'd learn a little something, but they'd also get introduced to another Virgin StartUp business - and who knows where that could lead?

Here entrepreneurs Caroline McQueen, Craig Rose and Ricky Kothari share their Secret Santa experience.

Caroline McQueen: Founder of Industry Avenue

"The advice I received advice wasn't specifically do with business; it was more about mindfulness and staying focused on where I desire to be and not getting derailed by a fear of failure or uncertainty. I thought it was very insightful.

My advice was kind of along the same theme, with a PR slant to it. I said that it's important to strike while the iron is hot and get the message of your brand out there before fear or doubt has a chance to slow you down, because someone will beat you to it and you'll miss your edge. He thought that was very apt, as that's something he's dealt with recently."

Craig Rose: Founder of Seaweed & Co.

"Our Secret Santa experience has been really helpful.  We both offered some pretty broad, and very positive business advice to each other that I, at least, found helpful. It can be a lonely place starting out in a small business, and so hearing thoughts from someone in a similar position, even if in a totally different industry is really helpful and encouraging.

What is even more positive is that we found areas of mutual business interest, and plan to support each other with blogs and other information going forward."

Ricky Kothari, founder of T-Sticks of London

"The tip I offered was to delegate as much as possible of the non-critical aspects, and only after you know how to do it yourself, so you can then focus on business growth aligned to your strategy. For example, I used to write our tweets and blogs and post using various platforms, but now I have Abby our digital media teammate ploughing through this.

"The tip I received was to set your own daily, weekly, and monthly goals. Make sure you do some activity every day that leads towards those goals.

"I used to pay £5 a month and receive daily texts from Company Shortcuts - these were really good hints and tips. The above reminded me of those, and getting in to the habit and discipline of setting goals is very important. I think it was a nice bit of fun and actually resonated with a basic but important task.
"The advice I gave was very much from own experience as an entrepreneur. Trying to do everything initially is fine, but as you grow and the team expands there are some activities that have a better payback and ROI when managing a company. Not to say the other items are not important, they are - but there needs to be a focus on strategic business growth, implementation and continuity plans to ensure the business is sustainable moving forwards. It also takes a hit on the plethora of tasks on your mind or to-do list, and relieves pressure."

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