Five Minutes with the Founder | Dave Pickard, Co-founder, London Sock Company
Dave Pickard is co-founder of the London Sock Company, and today we spend five minutes with him learning what makes him tick, who inspires him, and what he would tell someone starting their own business now.
“I’m Dave, co-founder of London Sock Company, our online sock brand for the modern gent. We believe socks are the perfect style accessory for professional men, so we are building the best and most convenient sock and gifting experience available.
I’m originally from Glasgow where I have run several small businesses from the age of 15, before joining Accenture in London in 2007. As an Engineering grad I’m a huge fan of science, physics and all things space related. I also love sport and fitness, in particular basketball, football, golf and now tennis.”
WHAT DOES BRITISH LUXURY MEAN TO YOU?
To be honest, I’m not sure I particularly like the term. To me ‘luxury’ should only really be a perception consumers have about you, if your brand and experience is something they aspire to be part of and want to share. I also don’t think being a ‘British’ brand is necessarily what matters. I think it’s about embracing common values of, in our case, values such as trustworthiness, professionalism, attention to detail, aspiration to be successful. You could say these kinds of values historically exist in Britain, but I’d argue they resonate with our customers in most major cities around the world.
WHAT’S YOUR VISION FOR THE LONDON SOCK COMPANY?
To be in the sock drawer of every ambitious professional in the world.
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT?
My wife is 6 months pregnant… so for at least another 3 months, it has to be handling huge business growth in 2018: 6x growth in our US market and doubling our team (now 14 people). We very nearly fell over but it was a phenomenal achievement.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS?
Achieving our vision for the company.
WHAT’S YOUR GREATEST EXTRAVAGANCE?
I haven’t had many extravagances as a poor start-up founder! But back when I was still at Accenture I celebrated my 30th year by saying yes to every single trip any one of my friends were planning. The most extravagant of which were Australia for the Lions Tour, Dubai, Thailand & Vietnam, as well as California. Not a bad year of holidays!
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR?
Two things in equal measure: the rate of continual learning and self-improvement, and the feeling of being able to shape our own destiny as a business.
While I do love to solve problems, there are some times I think it would be lovely if nothing would go wrong for a little while.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST REGRET?
I don’t really have any regrets, but definitely some significant lessons learned. In particular the value of time. I think you let too many people waste a lot of your time in the early stages of a business venture, as you are learning yourself and don’t know what’s relevant to you yet.
IS THERE ANOTHER BUSINESS OR A FOUNDER THAT PARTICULARLY INSPIRES YOU?
Angus at Hotel Chocolat. He’s like Richard Branson meets Willy Wonka, but I mean that in the best way possible! He’s showing British start-ups another way to scale and build a business to be passionate about for a long time. (He had also been a long term Sock Club member before we met him!)
WHAT IS YOUR GUIDING PRINCIPLE?
If it’s not a F*** YES, then it’s a no. Otherwise you spend too much time deliberating on decisions.
WHICH LIVING PERSON DO YOU MOST ADMIRE?
A very tough question to answer, and there are many – so my answer might vary day to day. But I’d have to put Andy Murray up there on my list. Not just because I like to see fellow Scots being successful, but because of the way he worked hard to get to world number one. Some athletes are just born with incredible talent. I’m not saying he wasn’t, but I know two friends from home who actually beat Andy in their younger tennis days (which they relish as a story these days!). Yet Andy worked insanely hard in the toughest era of tennis in history, to make it to number one. Plus he’s an absolute gentleman and dedicated family man. Rare combined qualities in sporting legends.
WHICH WORDS OR PHRASES DO YOU MOST OVERUSE?
When things are tough or the team are finding a particular project really challenging, I invented the phrase ‘It’s reassuringly hard.’ My point being, if growing a business was easy, everyone would be doing it as well as us and success would be impossible.
WHAT KEEPS YOU AWAKE AT NIGHT?
Only the occasional huge concerns like cash flow or failures that are really going to hurt us. I used to spend some nights awake obsessing about a bad bit of customer feedback and whether it means we’re actually shit and everyone hates us. I think I’ve learned some perspective though, that things are never as good as you think, but they’re never as bad as you think. It’s always somewhere in between!
WHAT DO YOU MOST VALUE IN YOUR FRIENDS?
Honesty and good humour.
WHAT PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE STARTING UP THEIR OWN BUSINESS NOW?
Really consider the impacts to your life, both financially in the short-to-medium term, as well as the impact on your friendships and relationships. It’s an all-consuming rollercoaster and you better make sure you’re really ready for it.
GREATEST LUXURY UNDER £10?
I’m a sucker for a nice bit of dark chocolate and a glass of single malt… I think that’s generally under £10!