“Learn to delegate, hire sensibly and build an ownership culture” – Timo Boldt
An entrepreneur who launched a business now worth $1.7bn from his front room in Oxford is returning to the city this Friday 25th February, to talk to 500 people at Saïd Business School about his entrepreneurial journey.
Timo Boldt, a co-founder of recipe kit company, Gousto, is one of the keynote speakers at the Oxford Saïd Entrepreneurship Forum, an annual event that aims to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators.
Timo founded Gousto in 2012, aged 26, from his front room on Botley Road. Having worked long hours in investment banking, he realised how difficult it was to find the time to cook healthy meals from scratch that he enjoyed eating. It also became clear how much food was being wasted by people with similarly busy lifestyles.
He identified an opportunity which incorporated consumer trends at the time of food, convenience and online. The solution being a regular delivery service direct to people’s homes with all of the ingredients provided and already measured out, with easy to follow recipe cards.
Since then, the company has grown exponentially, employing nearly 2,000 staff. It counts The Body Coach, Joe Wicks, as a brand ambassador and recently raised $150m from Softbank Vision Fund II, HSBC and Barclays to fund the next stage of its growth.
Timo says that learning to delegate effectively is a key lesson for entrepreneurs: “You have to ask yourself: what am I good at, and what do I suck at? In the short term it’s often quicker – and can feel safer – to do something yourself. But if you want to grow a successful and scalable business, you have to take a longer-term view and help your people to develop. That means learning to let go.
“You also need to hire sensibly. Be honest about what you’re trying to create and don’t be afraid to reassess your existing team to see where the gaps are. The number one ingredient for success is people, so it’s important to get it right.
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“Finally, it’s important to build an ownership culture. Creating a culture of owners who can reap the benefits of a company’s future success helps to inspire employees to make the company even bigger and better. Employees feel invested in the mission, the customer, the product and, more importantly, the future.”
Timo has the following advice for would-be business founders:
“Anyone looking to start their own business needs to focus on managing themselves, before they manage other people – and surround themselves with people who energise them. Finally, say “yes” to mentorship – having the benefit of someone else’s experience is invaluable and constant learning is a must.”
The Oxford Saïd Entrepreneurship Forum (OSEF) is a one-day conference, held annually at Saïd Business School to promote entrepreneurship and innovation. This flagship event brings together prominent entrepreneurs, innovators, business leaders and investors for a meaningful exploration of how individuals and businesses can transform the world.
Other panel sessions at this year’s OSEF focus on blockchain, global start-up investment, climate change adaptation and the future of work in a post-pandemic economy.
The world-class speaker line-up also features Emilie Colker, Partner at global innovation and design company, IDEO; Laura Shin, cryptocurrency journalist and influencer; and Nicolas Verschelden, Global Innovation Director at AB InBev, the world’s largest brewer.