Tips and Tutorials

Dragons' Den Contestant: Take Care Of Your Mental Health When Starting Up

Marianne Turner
October 11, 2020

This blog is based on an episode of our podcast, The Pathcast. The Pathcast is an interview series with tech and business experts, discussing the good, the bad and ugly of business and providing actionable steps for you to implement from the ground up. You can listen to this episode here.

When the Dragons' passed the opportunity to invest, Martyn Gould, CEO, and founder of Yboo, didn’t let that phase him.

Yboo – an acronym of You’re Better Off On – is a mobile deal comparison app that monitors your phone usage, and then recommends the best provider and package for you, taking signal strength where you live, work and hang out into consideration.

Gould, who has a background in telecommunications, quit his job and dedicated himself to his new venture, consequently depleting his life savings due to a lack of income, and worked around the clock to get Yboo off the ground.

It is this persistence and resilience that has kept Yboo not only surviving, but thriving, since its inception in 2017, and this same sunny disposition has allowed Gould to be thrilled with the influx of users after an appearance BBC’s Dragon’s Den – despite the fact none of the Dragons decided to invest.

yboo business went on Dragon's Den

Believe in your business and what you do

Gould is no stranger to resistance.

“In our industry, trying to drive change on a day-to-day basis is absolutely exhausting. We need to invest a disproportionately greater amount of effort to get the same result as other scale-ups in other sectors,” he said with a determined tone.

“There are limited opportunities caused by fixed corporate structures and a reluctance of organizations to move towards customer-driven, agile delivery processes where the customer is at the center of everything they do. These fixed structures prevent innovation.”

Such claims feel hard to believe when Gould is so positive and when Yboo is scaling steadily. As a founder, it all comes down to belief in your product.

Gould knows he’s found a sweet spot where both consumers and telcos are better off on the platform, not to mention Yboos expanding product offering and B2B insights portal.

“Keep challenging the status quo but not by force, by stealth. Think about a situation where a customer and an organization can both win and map out how that situation can be brought to life,” he advises.

“It would have been easy to get back on that commercial gravy train and have a nice life with a big bank balance, but feel a bit unfulfilled. I pitched and pitched for a long time, I put the effort designing processes, building my network and I just wouldn’t give up.

“Start with the services, products, or industries that need to change but can’t or won’t. Ask yourself: What would you do differently? Why? Can you apply that to what you do now? If not, it’s time to create your own startup.”

Take care of your mental health when starting up

For anyone starting up, scaling up or shaking up their business, there are great mental challenges ahead because more often than not, every day is a battle. Although Gould appears to have a welcoming, sunny disposition, he is no stranger to dark days.

He described starting out “on his own”, without anyone to lean on when the days were long and relentless. His co-founder still worked a day job, so significant responsibility was put upon Gould when he decided to make a go of it.

“I remember one day when I was walking to a meeting in Manchester, it was just throwing it down sideways, the wind was blowing... wind literally through my jeans and through my socks. I had a meeting that just didn’t go anywhere, it was a complete waste of time.

“But then I think, I’ve worked in an industry that’s been broken for 20 years, and I’ve created a product that fixes that. So why isn’t it going to succeed? It honestly comes down to that one question, and actually talking to myself and saying ‘look’.”

Lean on others when you need to

Gould, describing a “psychological battle”, gives kudos to self-belief and “sheer stubbornness” for getting him through rough patches.

“There were some dark times when I was alone, but you have to keep going,” he said. “Just because no one wants to back you today, doesn’t mean someone won’t back you in three months, three days or three hours time.”

“I didn’t have a mentor or support network, or an office to go into and have someone to say it’s okay. Anyone that’s going through this journey, make sure you’ve got support network and those cheerleaders around you.”

His journey began only 18 months ago, and now, sat on a lime green sofa in a recently upgraded office, Gould’s relentlessness has paid off. Listen to what else he has to say on The PathCast.

PS. Want to stay in the loop?

If you’d like to stay up to date with Gould and Yboo, catch them on all of the regular social channels.

  • Gould’s LinkedIn: Here here here.
  • Gould’s Twitter: @MartynGould
  • Yboo Twitter: @ybooUK
  • Yboo Instagram: @yboouk
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