‘Ignorance is Sometimes Bliss’ in Start-Up WorldJune 07, 2018
Founders who are outsiders, and look at problems differently, often have an advantage.
Julie Deane became an entrepreneur out of necessity. In 2008 she wanted to make enough money to send her daughter to a private school to get her away from a group of classroom bullies.
In five years Ms Deane turned £600 of savings into The Cambridge Satchel Company, an upmarket bag-maker valued at £40m. She talks about her experience in the new series of Start-Up Stories, the FT’s entrepreneurship podcast. Ms Deane had no background in fashion or design — she previously worked as an accountant and as the development officer for Gonville and Caius, the Cambridge university college where she had studied natural sciences as an undergraduate.
“I was born to sort things out when they go a bit pear-shaped,” she says. “And things did go a bit pear-shaped when my daughter was having a bit of a tough time at school.” The idea of making high-quality school bags was taken from a list of 10 business plans, based on problems Ms Deane had long wanted to fix in order to make her own life easier — in this case the fact that her children’s flimsily-made school satchels frequently broke. She had picked bags in preference to her other nine ideas based on a scientific analysis of which business scheme had the most potential in terms of market size and possible margins.