Founded by Peter and Alan Cowley, The Invested Investor is aiming to increase the success rate of start-ups by learning from the experience of entrepreneurs, investors and start-up specialists. In this podcast, Peter Cowley interviewed two dynamic entrepreneurs, William Makant and Yusuf Muhammad, who founded Plumis in 2008 to develop Automist, an innovative sprinkler system. A decade later Plumis has a £2 million turnover and Automist is installed in over 5,000 homes
When asked what the secret to their success is; these two entrepreneurs, who first became friends when they were at university, said they attributed their success to being able to pivot and to change strategy by learning about a market's key drivers.
I think we were very, very early when we were looking for investment. We really didn't have a strong idea of market, where our product would fit and, although there were customers who promised that if we launched this product they would go ahead and buy out certain amounts of stock, it wasn't a necessity for them to buy the product. It was a luxury item for most,
explained Muhammad who is a co-inventor of Automist. He’s a multi-award winning industrial designer with an Honours Master’s degree in Engineering and a double Masters in Innovation Design Engineering.
This was reinforced by Makant who said to Cowley,
How is that, at the stage that we were, with the amount of validation that we had, how did you go ahead into that? Because, looking at that time, I wouldn't invest in myself then.
Cowley, serial entrepreneur and seasoned Invested Investor responded,
Because, you know, and I've said many times before, it's the people that matter.
Makant explained one of the company’s crucial pivots,
… we had very little sales from the consumer side or from the housing associations side… And, we've learned that, on the residential side, it's completely different. It's all building codes, building regulation-driven, and it means that the drivers are completely different. The solution is completely different, so all the experience I had was completely useless. I didn't know what building control was, but we went to a local building control office and just learned what exactly they did and how our product could fit. And, that's really what the business started growing organically from.
Makant is an experienced Mechanical Engineer and Product Developer with a family background in the fire protection industry and holds an MBA from Imperial College, London.
When asked about any advice for other entrepreneurs, Muhammad said
I think, first and foremost for me, it's about finding a network of people who are going through the same struggle because, not only is entrepreneurship a very lonely journey, there's so many different ways that you can go about it and approach it, and leveraging other people who are experiencing some of the things that you are has definitely helped along the way
Inspired by Peter Cowley, The Invested Investor is improving the journeys of startups by educating angels and entrepreneurs to make fewer mistakes, work better together and produce more successful exits. They want to empower angels to invest their time, emotion and experience into start-ups, and help entrepreneurs with how they should start to talk to investors and then build an open and trusting relationship with them. Run by Peter’s son Alan, the project’s underlying message is that more honesty and transparency between investors and entrepreneurs will lead to more successful startups. They have a series of podcasts on their website, www.investedinvestor.com, which is also where you can pre-order their first book.