20thSep 2011

“Working closely with Nick Sturge in the first 18 months helped me build up resilience. Having the chance to talk with other entrepreneurs who were doing it – facing the same challenges and sharing their insights made a difference at the start.” Ryan Notz, Founder 

Fast Facts   SETsquared Support
Company  Business Review Panel
Website Affordable office space
Sector ecommerce Mentor support
Status Alumni Entrepreneur Community & network

From stonemason to web entrepreneur is a successful online marketplace that connects homeowners and builders. The website’s unique mix of company profiles and eBay style customer feedback is supported by a powerful communication platform which allows trades people to pitch, quote and build their reputation easily, and helps consumers to purchase building services with confidence.  

Local stonemason Ryan Notz had his really good idea to create an affordable, reliable way to connect with his customers in 2004. He had passion and drive but no experience of developing an online business or raising funds.  Up to his tool belt in personal debt, his first experience with a development company didn’t produce the website he’d hoped for. Ryan needed commercial support to get his idea off the ground and the business out of his garage. He joined SETsquared in 2005 at the pre-incubation stage of his company, with a long way to go. 

SETsquared Adding Value 

At SETsquared Ryan took advantage of the advice and support available through their tailored approach. The SETsquared team worked with Ryan to develop his idea and strengthen his technical and managerial capability. 

He attended the tough Investor Readiness workshops and got the hang of funding rounds and company valuation. Ryan also benefited from SETsquared’s excellent network. He first met Jamie Murray Wells, founder of Glasses Direct and subsequent investor in Mybuilder, at a SETsquared Business Review Panel.  

Over two years SETsquared worked closely with Ryan to fully realise his business idea by offering practical support, professional advice and ‘been there – done that’ strategic mentoring.   

SETsquared Accelerating Growth 

By 2007 Ryan was ready to take on the Seedcamp challenge and nailed £35,000 prize money and extra mentor support from a group of angel investors. 

Seedcamp exposed Ryan to the kind of funders that his company needed to succeed. Ryan went on to secure £350k by 2008 and as part of the same deal the influential Travis Perkins Group became a stakeholder and invited Mybuilder to join their network of builders’ merchants and retailers. 

Ryan used the money to recruit a crack technical team and they started again. He stripped his idea back to basics and moved from a free model to charging a ‘success fee’. He also began what he calls ‘extreme bootstrapping’ to continue to develop and strengthen his business.  

Accessing SETsquared support gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to work on their businesses systematically, over time. Start-ups can pressure test their plans, gain valuable advice and training to increase their capability and extend their network by attending SETsquared events. Using their flexible Business Acceleration Toolkit the SETsquared team delivered Ryan tailored, structured support over two years, easily changing to suit the development of his business.  

As a result Ryan was able to stick with it when the going got tough and build his successful business.