Continuing our Start-Up Story this week, Abi spoke to Dave Williams of Happus who told us how and why he started the company.
What did you want to do when you grew up?
Be a fighter pilot in the RAF
What inspired you to start your own business?
I’d worked for a corporate for about three years and an opportunity came up to compete with them directly and I took it at the age of 22. I’ve not worked for anyone since!
What were you doing prior to Happus?
It was another business. We started Happus coming up for two years ago.
What have you found most rewarding about Happus?
The independence, being able to deliver what I see as the right thing to do from a business point of view
What have you found most challenging about Happus?
The awareness, getting our products and services out to the people that need them through traditional methods while we live in a very digital world, because many of our customers are offline we have to go back to traditional methods to get to them
Where do you see your self and your business in 5-10 years time?
Five years retired, ten years- definitely retired. We’d like the business to grow up and do what it’s got to do and deliver it. I don’t think it’s going to happen in five years it’ll probably be longer that. But in ten years I’d like to be retired on a beach somewhere.
Why do you do what you do?
I enjoy it. It makes a difference. It impacts a lot of people throughout the UK. I like seeing the difference it makes to people for when they’re actually online and that’s a big surprise from when you start talking to them. There’s 12.6 million people in the UK that haven’t got the skills to be able to use a computer and over half of them cant afford them or don’t think they can afford it.
Do you have any tips for starting a business?
Just determination. You have got to be so determined. Understand your customers more than anything else you might have a fantastic idea but until it’s down in front of a mass of people you won’t know! You have to understand what people want and while you may have the core of an idea that direction might change once you’ve spoken to people who want it in the first place.
How did you find your niche?
Seven years ago, by working with Martha Lane Fox who set up lastminute.com she set up an organisation called race for 2012 with the government to tackle digital inclusion and that was all skills based. Then we came in with the hardware so refurbished computers that were affordable.
Do you think Happus reflects you as a person?
I’m fairly tech savvy and I guess I just want to see that for every body. I don’t see why anyone should be excluded. I enjoy what I do, I enjoy seeing people get online. I like the challenge of it all, I don’t like the politics of it all. I do tackle the establishment, I’ve done that recently.
If you could would do anything differently?
No. I think we’ve learnt a lot in the two years we have been doing this. A lot more than I thought we have certainty established ourselves as the people to deal with. All the organisations up and down the countries, house providers, charities, governments, so we are good!