Can you tell us more about Perse and what inspired you to start your business and begin the journey as an entrepreneur?
Perse is my second startup. The first was Labrador which is a smart energy comparison and switching service. I was first inspired to create an energy startup out of frustration as a customer – being chased by an energy supplier’s credit agency at the same time as them issuing me refund cheques. But also seeing the massive transformation that the sector was about to undergo – being one of the last major markets to be digitalised. The price comparison website journey had been designed pre the existence of the iPhone and didn’t seem like it was going to be changed any time soon. Then the “big data” strategy of energy suppliers was to know 80% of their customers’ postcodes… All of this didn’t feel very innovative to me… I then started Perse as I felt I hadn’t had time to solve enough of the problems in the energy market with Labrador, nor had I capitalised on lots of the opportunities emerging. It was now no longer just digital transformation the transformation to net zero. I had been working at Revolut between companies and I also missed building my own business.
What has been the biggest opportunity and challenge you have faced as a business?
The energy market has been in a meltdown since we started Perse due to wholesale market issues, made worse by the war in Ukraine. Our primary revenue when we started was from domestic switching which suddenly halted for more than 2 years and still has not properly returned. This forced us to look at the value of energy data to other sectors – property and finance, which has turned out to be a massive opportunity for us. The main uses cases have been for carbon reporting and carbon reduction.
What is one of rule of success that you standby in your journey as an entrepreneur?
I think it’s crucial for entrepreneurs to be clear that they’re solving a real problem that people are prepared to pay for. Play to your skills (as much as you can, given you will inevitably wear multiple hats for a while…). Mine is using my legal background to understand where and how to innovate in regulated markets. Understand how you can build this into a differentiator.
Networking is a hugely important tool when it comes to building a business, how do you approach building a network and connections?
I try to remain open to new opportunities. I will attend industry events and build connections without pre-defined ideas of what I will get out of it. Usually these will be useful at some stage down the line. Conferences also often allow me to take my mind out of the business and reflect and come up with new ideas – often having nothing to do with the conference, but rather being an environment where I can have a different “brain space” to think.
What advice do you have for female entrepreneurs starting, growing, and scaling a business.
Be ready for a proper journey. And one that will always take longer than you think at almost every step.
What do you most like about the Invest in Women Hub and how important is access to resources and information when building a business.
Information builds confidence and choice. Everyone deserves those things.
What’s next for Perse?
Whilst we have enjoyed massive growth in the last 12 months, we have only really scratched the surface of what is possible. So it’s growth and more growth!
What are your top tips for female entrepreneurs out there preparing for investment?
I have had 2 invaluable mentors and advisors. Try to find one. People may be more open to help you than you might expect. Look for people that have had experience accomplishing what you want to accomplish next. There may be different mentors for different stages. Think about what you need now and what you will need to deliver for the funding you’re trying to obtain.
How important it is to find the right investor when securing funding?
The right investor is important if the investment is big enough for them to gain a say in your business. Be clear about what they want to get out of the investment and ensure it’s aligned to what you want. Not just for the business, but for yourself as well.
When it comes to pitching what are the most important elements that contribute to a good pitch?
The right content (there are lots of example pitch decks out there) but also how to make the best things stand out. Saying that, it is also crucial that anyone can understand the basics of what you do very quickly. This is something that we struggled with for a while.
What is a piece of advice you have for female entrepreneurs entering the world of funding?
Be ready for it to take longer than you think/want. But persevere! It is worth it. You will learn loads. And if things don’t work out the way you want or expect, be open to the possibility that actually things might work out better that way in the long run.