Jodie Hughes worked for the Scottish Institute for Enterprise as a result winning ‘Intern of the Year 2011’. This led to the founding of her first entrepreneurial business: My Health Cards. This small business venture won numerous awards including a Shell LiveWIRE Grand Ideas Award and secured a nationwide deal with Asda. Jodie explains, “After selling my stake in My Health Cards I bought Adspad: a student marketing and advertising company. I continue to run Adspad part-time focusing my time on building customer relationships and growing the company nationally. Adspad was featured on Sky 1’s ‘The Angel’ (something like a mix between Dragon’s Den and The Apprentice) where I had to battle it out to try and win a £100,000 investment from multi-millionaire businessman John Caudwell.”
“I recently started at everyone’s favourite smoothie and juice company: Innocent Drinks as their Business Development Executive – essentially this means that I find entrepreneurial ways to get our products in places where are target market will see them and buy them. I joined Innocent Drinks because I wanted to gain experience in the food and drink industry as my ultimate goal is to run my own ‘Free From’ food company.”
When did your interest in business develop?
“I don’t think I woke up one day and said “you know what, I want to be an entrepreneur” but the activities I showed interest in from a young age were labelled as ‘entrepreneurial’. When I was a child at school, instead of swapping crisps in the playground I sold jewellery and perfume, and even on occasion at the side of the road (to my Dad’s despair). Whenever I wanted a toy or item and wasn’t allowed it I used to use what I already had and adapt it. For example, I once made a dolls house out of an old draw and some scraps of material. ”
“I just think differently to most people my age. Often working in cooperation can be challenging and frustrating because I want to just get on with things instead of having to ask loads of people. I also did a degree in business which didn’t really help with my dream to start a business but the entrepreneurial skills I gained through being an intern at SIE did, and also starting clubs at university which I viewed as little businesses also helped. I suppose I swim against the tide and I think you will find that most entrepreneurial people do the same!”
What drives you to become a successful business entrepreneur?
“Creating something from nothing and the look on a persons face when you say you run your own business. Most people work for someone else and some of those people wish they didn’t – I love when people ask me what I do and I answer with: “I run my own business”. People always then say “oh I could never do that”…well actually you could if only change those can’ts into cans and just went for it. ”
“It really is such a motivational feeling to get up one day, start your own business and then going to see what you can achieve in such a small amount of time. With My Health Cards we managed to achieve a substantial amount in such a short period of time, and with Adspad this year we managed to grow our distribution from one university to nine alongside growth into colleges too. ”
“As with my next venture I knew that I needed to get myself financially secure again and also wanted to move to London so joining a company was key. The only company I knew I needed to join was Innocent Drinks to learn the tricks of the trade. I am motivated everyday knowing that one day I will have my own ‘Free From’ company ingrained with values similar to those of Innocent Drinks.”
Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years time?
“In 10 year’s time I will be running a ‘Free From’ company with a quirkiness not dissimilar to that of Innocent Drinks. I am currently researching the market to see where the gaps are in this market are and then will start thinking of products to fill those gaps…if there is a need of course. I am so passionate about the ‘Free From’ market because I have Coeliac Disease which means I have to follow a strict gluten-free diet – the market is huge and it has only be recent that Genius Gluten Free came on the market…a very inspirational company and great products!”
Any advice for our readers?
“Starting a business may seem like the impossible – it isn’t hard but you have to work extremely hard and persevere. You will make mistakes but you will learn from them, and there will be times when you will feel lonely, but you will get over that! The reason you will smash all those problems is because you will have your ultimate goal in site whether that is becoming the best cupcake maker in the world or becoming the best ‘Free From’ company. Life is too short, if you see something that needs changing why don’t you change it instead of waiting for someone else to?”