Serial entrepreneur talks about his journey from Dragons’ Den to £20m business empire

All this at the age of 22!


Company: GripIt Fixings
What it does: Creators of a revolutionary range of plasterboard fixings capable of holding up to 180kg, making them suitable for everything from curtains to boilers
Founded: 2010
Founder/s: Jordan Daykin
Size of team: 40
Your name and role: Jordan Daykin, MD

You are called a serial entrepreneur. You burst onto the scene in 2004 as the youngest entrepreneur to receive investment on Dragons’ Den. How has your business journey been so far?
The last eight years have been a whirlwind. I invented the GripIt in my grandad’s garden shed when I was 14, and since then I’ve grown the business into a £20m success. Going on Dragons’ Den in 2014 and securing a £80,000 investment from Deborah Meaden was key to achieving this. Thanks to her investment and guidance we were able to grow the company’s turnover by 350% year on year and secure a presence in 34 countries. Resilience and putting in the hours were also crucial to multiplying the investment I secured on Dragons’ Den. They ensured that I could hit as many prospects as possible knowing that a certain percentage would come off.

What drives you as an entrepreneur at the age of 22?
Business has been my hobby since I was 12. It’s not just a job, it’s something I love, as it offers you the opportunity to make something out of nothing, and constantly presents challenges to overcome. I’m driven to make GripIt a household name to rival the raw plug for myself as well as my grandad who helped me develop it.

How is your business model different from competitors?
GripIt is different because of the product and the people. Our fixing is the strongest on the market, capable of holding up to 180kg which makes it suitable for everything from curtain rails to boilers, and we only employ those who can think outside of the box. When the company was growing we hired people from inside the fixings industry and it didn’t work because of immovable mindsets. At GripIt things change daily so we need employees who can adapt. I secured a meeting with Curry’s because they were curious about why a fixings company would want to meet with an electrics retailer - I then showed them the value of stocking GripIt’s for use alongside their TV brackets. I want to inspire my colleagues to think outside the box in the same way.

What metrics do you look at every day?
At least twice a day I’ll look at our business intelligence Software to check the company’s sales are on track and to monitor how staff are performing against targets. I’ll then speak to the management teams for sales and finance about our progress. Although not technically a metric, I also check our closed GripIt Facebook group every hour to keep an eye on staff happiness. The group is used to share photos and information about what employees are doing, this is crucial in keeping a sense of community as staff are spread out geographically.

Your company has recently completed two successful rounds of crowdfunding. What advice can you give other entrepreneurs trying to secure that kind of finance?
Anyone can do it, so long as they work out the difference between what they want and what they need, then establish how much money they require based on the latter. You want to give away as little equity in your company as possible, so if making sacrifices such as buying a second-hand van rather than a new one will enable you to do this then do it.

How do you make money? Who’s bankrolling you?
GripIt’s growth has been enabled through crowdfunding. However, we generate revenue through the sale of our range of GripIt products.

Any future expansion plans?
Over the next three years we will be focusing our attention on expanding further into Australia and America before turning our efforts toward Europe.

What are your biggest clients so far?
We’ve worked with a wide range of hugely successful national chains, including Wickes, Screwfix, Curry’s, and Homebase, and currently have products stocked in over 5,000 UK stores. In addition to this, we have secured partnerships with American brand Home Depot and Australian chain Bunnings.

You must have a portfolio of high net-worth clients. How do you secure their sensitive data?
There is a chain of access on our database. Sales staff will be able to see basic customer information. However, only myself and the finance directors will be able to access buyer and owner details.

As a serial entrepreneur, what challenges can affect your industry in the next 5 years?
In terms of GripIt, I will be carefully watching the building industry. It’s widely acknowledged that there are not enough houses to meet the demand, so I am expecting to see a growth spiral. This will be a great opportunity for GripIt. I am also the CEO of automotive company VPS Ltd., and for them I am conscious that car sales are currently going through a dip, and this needs to be factored into my business strategy.

What’s been the most unexpectedly valuable lesson you’ve learnt so far?
That finding the right people is time consuming but worth it. Once you’ve secured the right employees, and have a good structure in place around them, it’s crucial to keep them happy as they will determine your company’s success. Showing appreciation for the whole team, and not just those who work in sales, is crucial to this. It’s for this reason that I’ve promised to take the whole company away should we reach our target three months early.

What’s been your biggest mistake so far?
Hiring the wrong people. GripIt’s rapid expansion meant we swelled from five employees to 40 in 18 months. The pressure to hire staff to meet our workload meant I made hiring decisions too quickly, which cost me more time in the long run as I had to replace them.

Which London start-up/s are you watching, and why?
Suguru — a mid-size company who have created a mouldable glue - I’ve been watching them for a few years as they operate within the same DIY and trade sphere as GripIt. I look forward to seeing how they progress in the coming years.

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