Ever wondered how it would feel to pitch in front of the Dragons? Jess Ratcliffe, orgional owner of GaBoom.com, appeared on the TV programme ‘Dragons’ Den’ back in 2010, you can watch her pitch here. Our interview was conducted in late 2012; Jess has since become the product manager at Mind Candy.
1. You made a big splash appearance on Dragons Den back in 2010, how important was the appearance on the show?
I’m not sure it was a “big splash appearance” but thank you anyway! Going on Dragons’ Den was a fantastic experience and probably the most surreal experience of my life so far. My time on the show helped hugely in raising awareness of GaBoom and I still get lovely emails and tweets when a repeat goes out.
2. How did it feel to be pitching to the Dragons?
I don’t think I’ve ever been so nervous! It was scary that’s for sure.
3. How did GaBoom come about? What was your inspiration for setting up GaBoom?
I first had the idea for GaBoom when I was 15 and used to swap my video games with my friends and neighbours and one day thought “wouldn’t it be cool if you could do this with everyone in the UK”. The idea grew from there!
4. What part did technology play in the running of GaBoom?
Technology played a vital role in the running of GaBoom as we were an online video game exchange so without the internet, GaBoom wouldn’t have come to life.
5. I noticed you’re parting with GaBoom, as the site shows a message stating you’re currently working on something new… what might this be? Can you give us some clues?
I’m afraid I can’t give any clues away at the moment!
6. Do you plan on going back in to the Dragons Den to pitch your new ideas?
No, I don’t plan to. It was a fantastic experience but I don’t fancy going back!
7. What have you learnt from GaBoom, and how do you intend to apply to your new venture?
I have learnt so much from GaBoom and I am very excited to be able to apply those lessons to my next venture. It’s hard to write them all down without making this interview the length of a Harry Potter novel but the main thing I have learnt is what not to do and how important it is to trust my gut instinct and simply get started. Getting started can be the hardest part in starting something new but once you’ve dived in, you quickly learn how to swim.
8. Has the financial recession had an impact on your business?
I was fortunate that the recession did not negatively impact GaBoom. If anything it helped to highlight the value in swapping your video games online.
9. Did you use any of the major online payment services for GaBoom, such as PayPal, Google Checkout, etc?
Yes, GaBoom used PayPal to take payments.
10. Do you expect to explore the international markets with your future venture?
Yes, I hope to.
11. Do you think the UK government does enough to support young entrepreneurs?
It would be easy for me to say no because there is always more that can be done but there is no one size fits all solution for supporting young entrepreneurs. Every young entrepreneur will be different and need different levels of support. I’m extremely passionate about supporting budding entrepreneurs from the grassroots and promoting entrepreneurship as an option for young people. I believe the most powerful way to do this is to support the “budding entrepreneurs” while they are at school.
12. Finally, could you give any tips for young ambitious entrepreneurs attempting to start a new business?
Get started. As I mentioned above, taking that first step can seem like a huge and (sometimes) scary task because you don’t know what you are doing and you’re not sure if what you think you should do is necessarily right. But just remember that no one knew what to do when they were starting out. It’s all trial and error.
Trust your gut instinct at all times. If something doesn’t feel right, walk away. Always listen to your gut and if it is telling you something, follow it.
Reach out to people. If you’re doing something for the first time and feel that you need advice or want to run something passed someone who has been there and done it, reach out to them. Yes, some people may not reply but you’ll be amazed how many will.