The Raise: Interview with Simon Kirby, Co-Founder of Rocket Studio

Rocket Studio is an Accelerator like no other, designed around what your start-up or established brand needs to achieve your full potential.

Founders Rich Britton & Simon Kirby have over 60 years of experience between them working with and for some of the most interesting startups and biggest brands in the world to help them grow.

LoveGunn recently sat down with Simon to discuss all things startups, investments, and our exciting brand partnership.

WHO ARE ROCKET STUDIO AND WHAT DO YOU OFFER BRANDS?

Rocket Studio help startups raise funds; they partner with high-growth startups and big brands across the globe to build, fund, and scale their vision. We work with startups across all stages and scales over three key after areas.

Accelerator programmes for corporates and investors. The 360 studio offering focussed bespoke support to laterstage startups – these clients are typically more established with a distinct problem. And finally, the investment support programme for partners at any stage.

How did you grow Rocket Studio?

We identified our customers’ needs and kept their interests at the forefront throughout our journey.

BY PRIORITISING THEIR NEEDS, WE PROVIDE WHAT THEY REQUIRE TO FULFIL THEIR POTENTIAL.

We’ve had no need to pivot at any point. We’ve been going for a year and a half, and whilst our offering is the same, we keep tightening our focus.

We are incredibly proud of what we have created and our way of working. Founders need to work quickly, and this degree of urgency can pose a challenge for those without the resources needed to succeed. With the framework and methodology we have refined over the years, we can mitigate the risk and ensure corners aren’t cut in the process.

How do you identify clients?

Like many early-stage startups hungry for clients, when we first launched Rocket Studio, we worked with an array of founders. Now, we can afford to be pickier and just work with the ones we best align with. We’ve established an assessment to ensure they’re a great fit and have a high chance of success.

WE DEVELOPED AN ALGORITHM TO ASSESS STARTUPS BASED ON THE FOLLOWING CRITERIA; THEN WE PICK WHO WE WANT TO WORK WITH BASED ON THE RESULTS.

What is your process when working with brands?

The process for each brand that passes our assessment will vary significantly depending on the challenge they’re facing and their goals. We’ll execute a deep analysis into them and their project, so we can plan and execute accordingly. Things can move rapidly, as startups don’t have to jump through the same hoops as you do in the corporate world.

How do you identify investors?

Raising funds can be unpredictable so a good investor fit is imperative; we make the connections based on individual needs and assessments. We have relationships with a range of investors, from traditional VCs to more niche options.

WE’VE ALSO PARTNERED WITH VARIOUS BODIES: WE’RE THE UK LEAD OF AN ANGEL SYNDICATE IN SINGAPORE, AND THE OFFICIAL SCOUTS FOR A SCOUTING PLATFORM MAXIMISING OUR REACH.

What do clients typically spend the investment on?

Once the client’s investment has been secured, brands are presented with various options of how they want to invest the funds. The obvious three are developing their product, securing their route to market and marketing, and growing their internal team.

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST TRENDS OF 2022?

Digital Currencies

The CRYPTO market, the world of NFTs and the Metaverse is booming. Whilst I’m not convinced many of us truly understand what they are, they are proving to be more than a buzzword. We are working with multiple brands within this market, as there’s a huge amount of speculative funding. It’s a super exciting space and offers a massive opportunity to pioneering brands and tech geniuses.

Finance innovations

The notoriously outdated finance model is being overridden by innovation. Crowdfunding shook things up a few years ago, and things are continuing to progress into the modern age. Companies are lending to startups rather than the individual, and investments are based on forecast revenue as opposed to just tangible revenue. 9

WHO HAVE YOU PARTNERED WITH?

LoveGunn X Rocket Studio

LoveGunn built the Rocket Studio brand for us off the back of a series of strategic workshops. We were so impressed, we’ve build a long term partnership with them and send our clients their way when they need to build their own creative brands to facilitate their growth.

Soho House

We’ve been appointed Soho House’s official entrepreneurs in residence. We can support their members, many of whom are founders, and provide drop-in sessions. We also host and support events and advise members on investments, market research, and bespoke support. Our accelerator has helped them stand out in the market and provide a hugely beneficial offering to members.

MISTAKES TO AVOID & TOP TIPS

To succeed, brands need to understand the market through and through, and mitigate all of the common risks and mistakes.

Mistake #1: Founder Ignorance

Founders should be passionate and determined, but too often their focus is on the product (and the ‘solution’), but not the actual problem. If the focus is too much on the product, they’ll struggle to know what the customers actually want and miss the chance to retain and secure new customers. Founders can become obsessed with their solution and assume everyone will love it just as much as they do. They need to stay humble, and willing to take on board feedback and iterate the model if needed.

Mistake #2: Operational Oversights

When founders are too tunnel-visioned on their offering, they prioritise getting the product into the market before establishing the business fundamentals. Strategic business operations are imperative to the smooth running of a business, and without the fundamentals in place, brands will end up wasting money, running inefficiently and struggling to retain their customers. Operations may not seem like the glossy post-funding investment founders have in mind, but it has the power to totally change the game.

Mistake #3: Lack of Market Knowledge

The above oversights often stem from the lack of market research and understanding of consumer needs. Ever heard of a brand overinvesting in market research? Us neither – it’s something brands love to skimp on. Not nailing this initial (and ongoing) research will drastically affect the efficiency of your business model and strategy. This deep market understanding paves the way for the future of your brand, as it affects everything.

Mistake #4: Incomplete Team

It’s natural in business to want to surround yourself with like-minded people with similar skillsets. This common ground can actually have the opposite effect, as the skill sets the team lacks should always be the focus. Founders need to think strategically about the talent that will accelerate the company to the next level.

We (my other co-founder and I) both moved from the corporate world onto startups, with a unique and complementary set of skills and approaches. There is a minimal cross over in terms of our roles, but our ethos is the same: entrepreneurial, fast and furious, and outcome-driven. Rich headed up a consultancy, managing startups within media comms, so he’s the outwardlooking partner supporting the strategic customer acquisition scope. I worked with PE firms within management consulting, and manage the business operations from a bottom-up perspective. We took all of our combined experience and created Rocket Studio.

Mistake #5: Poor Brand

Founders can struggle to articulate the brand and key messaging. Branding is often done poorly and results in sub-par brand awareness. A strong brand and positioning will put your brand on a pedestal, providing you with the means to secure investment and retain those hard-earned customers.

THE IMPORTANCE OF A SHOWSTOPPING BRAND IS THE REASON WE PARTNERED WITH LOVEGUNN AND SEND CLIENTS IN THEIR DIRECTION WHENEVER THEY NEED BRAND GUIDANCE.

There are loads of great ideas out there. LoveGunn & Rocket Studio are here to bring your brand to life and supercharge the growth of your startup.

Get in touch with the amazing team at Rocket Studio to help you scale up and prepare for investment or join on of their accelerator programmes: [email protected].

Speak to LoveGunn to discuss your brand and marketing needs: [email protected].

THE RAISE: HOW ENTREPRENEURS LAUNCH & GROW THEIR BUSINESSES

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