Most teenagers spend their summer holidays playing on their Xbox, but when young entrepreneurs Ed Hardy and Kit Logan swapped their controllers for business plans, no one could have predicted the success story they would become. Bonding at Eton boarding school over a love for skiing, at seventeen the two developed an app called Edge, which can track performance stats along mountain routes, allow skiers to challenge others and find mountainside restaurants and bars. The app has been an instant success and we caught up with half of this dynamic duo (in between sitting his A Levels) to find out more about entering the business world at such a young age.
Hi Ed, thanks for taking the time to talk to us – we won’t keep you long! To get things started can you tell us a little bit about your background, was business something you have studied at school?
Kit and I have a very traditional background education wise. Business was never on the curriculum at school and you had to stick to the core subjects for GCSEs. However, we were exceptionally lucky to have access to a fantastic entrepreneurship society, where talks from the likes of Angela Ahrendts, Seb James and Sir Martin Sorrell meant we had plenty of access to knowledge, guidance and experience.
So how did you and Kit come up with the idea for Edge?
Edge actually developed out of a failed venture that we were running previously, which couldn’t scale and didn’t address the exciting aspects of skiing that we loved. After some time away from the business, we realised that there was still more we could do within the ski industry that solved a genuine problem for snow-sports enthusiasts and the resorts themselves.
Once you had the idea and the business plan what did you do next? How did things develop?
We set about developing an MVP (minimum viable product). This allowed us to test our theories and see if the company would genuinely succeed. If you don’t test these theories then you will continually lie to yourself about the business, developing a fiction around the customer. Having valid responses from our users gave us the ability to push forward with confidence.
How easy did you find it to get the app up and running?
Nothing is easy – when you are starting out everything takes far longer than you ever expect it to, be it the mundane or the massive. There were disasters along the way and some days where everything felt like it was going to implode, but if you push through you will get there. We were fortunate enough to find a supportive team who helped build the vision for Edge and together we launched the product in December 2013. It’s also one of the benefits of being joint founders –it means you have someone to share the hard times with.
Did you receive any funding to set up your business?
Yes we did. We were extremely lucky to find some excellent backers, all prominent within the start up scene in London. Funding is a constant battle but it is worth holding out for people who genuinely believe in you and want you to succeed.
What would you say are the advantages and disadvantages of entering the business world at such a young age?
The main advantage is that everyone always wants to meet you – they are always curious. However, this is also a catastrophic disadvantage – only about 10% of the people we have held meetings with are still in contact with us today. The majority are simply fulfilling their curiosity and while you can have an interesting conversation, they never intend to take it any further. Working out who is and isn’t serious is one of the main lessons we took out of last summer and now we rarely take meetings with people we don’t already know.
What is in the pipeline for 2014?
Version 2 of the app is launching for winter 2014 with some massive partners – we can’t wait!
In your opinion, what are the skills you need to start your own business?
Anyone can do it – you just have to be determined, flexible and forward thinking. Failing isn’t bad, it just takes you one step closer to succeeding.
Finally, what advice would you give yourself this time a year ago?
Narrow your focus; make sure you do one thing excellently rather than lots of things in a mediocre way.
Thank you Ed, best of luck!
And with that Ed went back to his revision and we were all left a little in awe. The boys prove that you can never be too young, or old, to follow your dream and turn a great idea into a business. If you find yourself wondering what to do next, a business start up course can help you master the skills needed to get going and give you the experience you need.