Kimberley Waldron, Co-founder of SkyParlour and 29Under29 Judge, Explains What She’s Looking For From Entrants

Hey Kimberley, tell us a bit about yourself


I’ve had the privilege of working in and around innovative businesses for the best part of 20 years. After starting my career in independent music promotion and brand design in Manchester, I quickly moved into tech, working alongside household brands such as The Cooperative, NPower and Vodafone.

My personal passion is working with talented founders as they uncover their purpose, explore product market fit and challenge the status quo. Since co-founding SkyParlour in 2009, we’ve been fortunate to be part of the growth journey for many young and established businesses.

SkyParlour is a B2B PR agency driving innovation around the Financial Services, Regtech and e-commerce industries to enable disrupters to thrive. We have clients in the UK, Europe, North America, LatAm and Australasia, and we support them as they navigate changing regulations, attract funding and cross borders.

Our specialist divisions, Started (for start-ups and new brands), and Scale (for scale-ups and scale-outs), are designed to help businesses become brands and leaders become influential. Right now, my focus is on start-up go-to-market and public image strategy. I also sit on the advisory board for several early-stage businesses, which is extremely rewarding.

What are you looking for from this year’s 29Under29 entrants?


It has been a challenging year for businesses at all stages of development, in particular for early-stage businesses looking to carve out new markets, define new categories and that need funding to deliver to this. We have seen many tech businesses downsize, pull out of certain markets, pivot their strategy, and even go out of business.

 Because of this, I’ll be looking for founders and businesses that have a well-rounded approach to business. What I mean by this is that while we always need improvement and new ideas, we also need sustainable businesses that are focused on long-term change and getting genuine innovation into the hands of those who need it.

  I’ll be impressed by technology with purpose, but that is also backed up by a business model that works and considers wider success factors such as product market fit and the regulatory landscape. I want to see businesses that have potential to improve the world around us, have strong case studies for how this can or is working and a go-to-market plan that talks to end users.

What advice would you give to companies wanting to stand out from the crowd?


This is always a tough one when everyone is trying to do the same thing, especially in the crowded and noisy technology market. My go-to answer is always to have a clear purpose (preferably one that also matters to other stakeholders!), talk about that purpose in an accessible way and be authentic.

Also, when it comes to promoting a business, it’s important to know the difference between what you want to talk about or are comfortable talking about and what those in your customer, investor or partner groups want to hear. Communicating from the ‘outside in’ (to quote Simon Sinek) is difficult to crack but will add huge differentiating value.

  Also, it’s not just what you say but what you do that still counts. So, while a compelling brand and public image are hugely important, building those principles into action and into product is where real customer engagement lies. Realistic ESG strategies need to be baked into every element of a new business – investors and customers alike are savvy and want to deal with organisations they align with and believe in. This is true of B2C and becoming even more so for B2B, too.