Sundried founder Dan Puddick is setting up his second business to make a mark in the multi-billion pound fitness market.
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Dan Puddick founded activewear brand Sundried to serve the rampant growth in demand for sporting clothes ranges, with an ethical twist and a focus on wellbeing. Here he talks triathlons, fund-raising and what it takes to juggle family and business commitments.
Describe your business so my mum could understand it.
Sundried is premium ethical activewear. Sportswear for men and women with impeccable ethical values.
Where did you get the idea for your business and why did you think there would be demand?
Being a keen triathlete and qualified personal trainer fitness is part of my life. In food there is plenty of choice when it comes to health, organic choice. In clothing I have struggled to find a brand that focuses on performance with values I can buy into.
Plot the growth story to today. How many staff, what's the turnover and give us some idea of how your customer base has developed?
Sundried is early stage. We have just launched our pilot collection following seed investment from the Low Carbon Innovation Fund. We are now in the process of fund raising and likely to be featured shortly on Crowdcube.
"The hardest thing is knowing when to switch off. My first business was pre-children. Now I have to make time for the family and kids"
What is your market sector like for new entrants? Is there a big opportunity and what do you hope to achieve in future?
The activewear market is probably the fastest growing sector in apparel. It is dominated by the large players we all know, but their focus is not on well-being and ethical production.
What have been the major bumps in the road (be honest) and how have you overcome them?
Getting people to invest in a pre-revenue business is tricky. But using my past credentials (founder of a business that sold with 50+ staff and revenues +£5m) have helped.
Daniel competed in the Etape du Tour, a race for amatuer cyclists which traces the Tour de France route
How have you marketed the business?
We have been actively visiting fitness events and sports expos to put our brand in front of our new potential customers. We are also launching our own triathlon for Southend on Sea.
What the hardest thing about running your own business and what makes it fulfilling/fun?
The hardest thing is knowing when to switch off. My first business was pre-children. Now I have to make time for the family and kids and that means switching off and being a fun dad.
What one thing would you change about doing business in the UK (politics/tax/laws etc)?
The UK is a great place to do business. I would recommend to the UK government to make trading in the UK a lot clearer to the big corporates that avoid paying tax through legal loopholes.
What is your biggest mistake?
Having set-up and developed many businesses in the past I have made countless mistakes. Not trusting my instinct has bitten me one to many times. And not spending enough time on the recruitment process to make sure key hires are just right. A bad hire punishes you over and over.
The activewear market is the fastest-growing in apparel
What sets your business apart from the rest and how have you nurtured that point of difference?
Sundried only employs personal trainers. It keeps the staff professional about the activewear market. Gives them a common interest. And means they know about hard work. Our shared goal for the industry keeps us one step ahead.
How you developed your staff - how do you recruit, how do you inspire your people and what incentives do you give them to stay loyal?
Being a start-up it is too early to comment fully, but taking some key hires from my last business means there is a two way level of trust and understanding built into the workforce.
How do you rate government support for growing businesses and why?
If you have the time and you live in the right postcode there is plenty of support. Especially in monitory terms, in other words skill training and consultancy support. It is there if you have time to seek and apply.
What are your top three tips for people starting a business today?
Be prepared to work hard. Be prepared for things to take twice as long. Make sure you enjoy what you do or you will spend a lot of your life being miserable.