Victoria Bradley has recently joined the BRT team as Incubator Manager for our Merchiston campus. With her she brings a wealth of start-up experience, knowledge and enthusiasm we’ve found to be infectious. We can’t wait for all of you to meet her, but until then we’d like to introduce her to you all digitally. This week we interviewed Victoria asking her a lot of weird and wonderful questions. She’s also written this blog below giving you all an insight into where she comes from and why she’s looking forward to working with Bright Red Triangle and our community.
Hi! I’m Victoria. The latest member of the BRT community, joining you as Incubator Manager at the Merchiston Campus. I wanted to give you a brief history of my entrepreneurial journey and tell you how I found my way here.
For me, it all started in March 2011. I was working at another University, just moved into a two-bed flat and saw the opportunity to generate income from my spare room by renting out to students who needed short term accommodation (AirBnB wasn’t really a thing yet). I had no idea where to start.
Luckily, I tapped into the University’s version of Bright Red Triangle, then got funding from The Prince’s Trust and joined Entrepreneurial Spark as part of their first ever cohort. With a lot of early mornings and late nights Homestayfriend was born. By September 2012, I was able to leave my job and make a real go of the business. I’d never felt so alive in my life.
Funnily enough my first day as a full-time employee a few interesting things happened… 1) I got a letter from a lawyer saying a customer was suing me! 2) I won an award for ‘Young Business of the Year’ (the irony) 3) I met my now husband during some boozy celebrations. That business was my baby. I grew it to four staff and eventually sold the database in 2015. Success? Kinda… I’m still paying back my loan to The Prince’s Trust.
Second for me was Desk Union, this business started alongside Homestayfriend when I recognised the need for workspace for startups and home workers.
Over the course of four years Desk Union transformed to become a co-working space operated in RBS HQ at St Andrew Square, Edinburgh. Desk Union was a crazy roller-coaster. Honestly, I wouldn’t even know where to start. It’s the most fun I have ever had in my life and I built the most amazing team. Sadly after four years we couldn’t get the model to generate enough revenue so I closed the doors. It was so tough after building a community of 70 epic co-working members.
Then came the rebound business, MuscleCake which actually turned out to be the most scalable of them all. In less than six months we developed a recipe for a macro-balanced protein brownie that actually tasted delicious. We also built a brilliant brand, 30 loyal ambassadors and influencers and secured £5k in pre-sales revenue. We were ready to smash it.
But as amazing as the brand and our tribe was, there was one key variable that failed us. The product. It turns out making a protein rich brownie without sugar, butter and crap makes it very volatile. Sadly the recipe couldn’t scale to the 50kg batches we needed. It was heart-breaking to tell our tribe we had failed and to refund all those pre-sales. It did teach me though that I can build a pretty awesome brand and community. That’s a great skill to have.
So after three startups in five years, I was burned out and in need of some respite. I decided to take a pay check for a while and got a job at Napier in another department. By some miracle my department gave me a desk in Bright Red Triangle’s incubator at Craiglockhart. It was my saviour. I got to do the 9-5 and still enjoy the energy from the BRT community. When the role of Incubator Manager came up I was wildly excited. For me it’s the perfect role.
I really hope that my 5 years of blood, sweat and tears can be of value to some of the BRT community. I have a treasure chest of stories, experiences and scars I am looking forward to sharing with you all. Come say hello next time you are passing through, Vics