‘You can’t just Google it’: the challenges and rewards of innovative entrepreneurship

This week, we chatted to Ollie and Eliot from WYSPR about the adventure of entrepreneurship, and revolutionising the influencer marketing industry!

WYSPR is the hub for ‘friendvertising’. Founders Eliot and Ollie are changing the face of influencer marketing, by utilising the influence of the people all around us.

I’m really interested to hear more about WYSPR, because its just a fascinating concept.

Ollie: WYSPR is a really simple concept, based on the idea that ‘Why are we paying influencers to promote brands and products, when us ‘normal people’ have a better and more engaging influence to promote to our friends and family through word of mouth?’ It started when we were at the gym after work scrolling Instagram between sets. We noticed that influencers were engaging about 1-2% with their audience.

Eliot: Imagine if you were a public speaker and you were only getting about 1-2% of your audience listening to you. You’d be considered a really bad public speaker.

Ollie: And meanwhile we saw our friends getting massively more engagement just for posting about the things they liked. Everyone has this asset, our generation has naturally accumulated it anyway, this real influence. So we just thought – why not use that instead? Instead of employing influencers, why not just employ regular people? A sort of digital word of mouth. You’re not being spoken down to, you’re being influenced by the real people around you.

‘A lot of entrepreneurial journeys start with the thought: this could be done better.’

Yeah its interesting that a lot of entrepreneurship journeys sort of start with a point where you look at something and thing: ‘This could be done better. I could do a better job.’ How did you get into it then, what did you do before?

Eliot: So we actually have a bit of a bromance story going on. We met on the first day of uni – it was one of those awkward introductory meetings with sandwiches. And then we became friends and eventually did our placement year together.

Ollie: At that point, we both knew we wanted to start a company so we soaked up as much as we could, about their business model and how they operated – we were inspired by it. We also had an interesting timeline in that we registered the company in July 2018, so we locked it down when we were finishing our year in industry, then spent the last year of uni really getting into the market research and testing before we launched.

Eliot: We even did our dissertations on it.

So you really laid the foundations before you just went head first into it.

‘Nothing prepares you for being an entrepreneur’

Ollie: Yeah, so we’ve only actually been operating since July, and we’ve done really well so far, working with some really exciting brands and we’ve confirmed android development. A figure we’re really proud of is that we’ve paid around £4,700 in 2020 to regular people. Real money in real people’s pockets which makes a difference now more than ever.

That’s interesting then, that you have the year of experience in industry compared to your actual academic education in business – which do you think was more valuable in preparing you for entrepreneurship?

Ollie: Nothing prepares you for being an entrepreneur. Its just so different to anything else, but I think the most valuable thing about working in an environment like that, a sort of well-oiled machine, is that you get an idea of how you need to be operating on a day to day basis. It gives you a bit of discipline.

Eliot: Yeah, which you’re famously not getting at uni!

‘Entrepreneurship is a bit like sailing in the dark’

Yeah, I think one of the hardest parts about being an entrepreneur is being strict with yourself.

Ollie: But then there’s also the flip side of being too strict with yourself, you know working constantly, always on ‘the grind’ – you need to find a good balance or you’ll just burn out. I do think uni teaches you a lot of key things, meeting deadlines and research being the most valuable things it taught me – and that can be learned from any subject. At the end of the day though, there are tame problems and there are wicked problems – entrepreneurship is a bit like sailing in the dark, especially if you’re doing something innovative because its never been done before. You can’t teach that. You can’t just Google it.

So I guess it’s good that you’ve got each other to navigate that with?

Eliot: Yeah, it’s a difficult one going into business with a friend or a partner, but the reason I think we got along from day 1 is that we’re similar in the way we approach things, we try not to get too emotional about things and sort of just make an effort to objectively listen to each other. We have disagreements but we don’t take it personally, we’ll work on it then go play some frisbee in the park as mates would.

There’s a level of maturity in that.

Ollie: It gets easier once you remove the ego from the situation – you have to remember that your goal is to solve the problem, not to get one up on each other. I’d say, have an emotive approach to your business but not to your disagreements. I guess it’s like being parents.

Totally, like you’re co-parenting WYSPR.

Ollie: exactly, we’re like WYSPR dads.

The worst parts about being an entrepreneur are also the best parts

So it sounds like you love what you do – what would you say is the worst part about entrepreneurship?

Eliot: Probably that you have the freedom to do what you want, which is a good and bad thing. People think you have the freedom to do as you please, but the reality is that you get so passionate that you find yourself over-working. But it is always rewarding when you see things start to pay off.

Ollie: The worst parts about being an entrepreneur are also the best parts. You don’t have the same security as a 9-5, you don’t know what your wages and hours will look like all the time, you don’t always know what you’re going to be doing on a given day. But that’s where the adventure is.

WYSPR is available to download from the app store now.

Read next:

Mentoring and Modern Entrepreneurship.

3 Reasons a Blog is a Must-Have for your Marketing Strategy

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