say hi to_ Pip Jamieson
Pip Jamieson is a truly inspiring woman and creative entrepreneur. Seeing a gap in the market for an online networking platform for creative professionals, she single handedly created The Dots. From growing up struggling with and overcoming dyslexia, following in her fathers footsteps into the music industry and setting sail (figuratively and literally) from Australia for the shores of the UK - she shares her story on how she got to where she is today.
Pip, who I always love receiving positive and enthusiastic e-mails from, welcomes us onto her (almost) equally charming houseboat, Horace. During our visit, she shares some insight on how to raise capital, stand your own as a woman in a male dominated field and the importance of a good team and idea as a business foundation when going it alone.
| say hi to_ | Please introduce yourself_
| Pip | I'm the founder of The Dots, which is a bit like LinkedIn for the creative industries :-)
It's been magic to see the response from people when I explain what we do.
What we're passionate about is helping amazing creatives connect to opportunities in a way that makes sense to them.
LinkedIn has done an amazing job of connecting the corporate world but it has so many limitations for people involved in the creative process.
On a simple level, creatives calling card is their work, not their resume or cv.
| say hi to_ | Yes, it's so important for artists to be able to present their work rather than merely just their resumes and to be able to be found via their portfolio. It's a really great tool that you’ve developed with The Dots.
| Pip | G shucks, thanks
| say hi to_ | What is a typical day of work for you? I suppose that you are meeting people all the time and that you don't really have a fixed office?
| Pip | I'm so blessed that no two days are the same. I live on a houseboat in London and my teams are in London and Sri Lanka. So my morning usually starts on the boat, sipping coffee and feeding the ducks while on a call to SL with my team.
Then I walk to my office in Shoreditch listening to audio books. My day is then made up of meeting with the team, partners and clients... or working on product ideas :-)
I love being out and about so it's usually an wonderful whirlwind of meetings with incredible creatives and creative businesses.
| say hi to_ | Sounds so lovely, are you on your house boat now?
| Pip | No I'm at the office! However, we started The Dots from my boat... which was magic for me and the team.
| say hi to_ | Yes it sounds like the boat would be a really inspiring work atmosphere....
| Pip | Seeing that we've grown so fast we had to expand to a bigger space... Horace our boat is only 7 feet wide
| say hi to_ | What did your parents do? Did it influence you in one way or another?
| Pip | I was so blessed that my father was in the music industry. My earliest memories are of hanging out in his office, meeting his team .... it sparked a love of business and the creative industries. My amazing mum was a housewife. The music industry was a lot like the tech industry back them... growing crazy fast and full of really interesting ambitious people... it was infectious.
| say hi to_ | You grew up in the network that you now want to support with your company. That's amazing. Your parents must be so proud of you.
| Pip | Yes they’re super proud... which is lovely. I was very dyslexic as a child so if it wasn't for the support of my amazing mum I'm not sure I would have ever gotten through school.
| say hi to_ | What made you decide to study Economics?
| Pip | My amazing Dad always wanted me to go into the creative industries but my slightly strange rebellious nature led me to economics. I think that I wanted to prove to myself that I could do something that was all my own. To my parents (and my surprise) I got a top grades. For ages while I worked at MTV, I regretted my economics degree - it had so little relevance to what I did day to day. Now I run a business and I'm so grateful I understand economics.
| say hi to_ | Why did you start with working in a creative field again?
| Pip | After university I joined the government as a fast stream economist. I went into working for the government with aspirations that I could make a difference but it wasn't really like that... not fast moving or innovative enough. So I joined the creative industries, which is where my heart always was. My first job was on the Brit Awards here int he UK, then I worked of MTV in various roles around the world - it was such an amazing time.
| say hi to_ | When did you decided to start over again, making your own online platform for connecting creatives? Did something specific happen to spark and encourage you to do so?
| Pip | It all started while I was at MTV in New Zealand. I was finding it really hard to find amazing creatives to collaborate on projects with.
At the same time, my then business partner Matt, was always being asked by creative friends for advice on how to promote themselves online. What we realised is there were lots of places to put work online but nothing specifically designed to help connect creatives to opportunities.
Also reflecting back I always wondered what would have happened to my own career if my Dad hadn't worked int he industry. Would I have got in? Would I have even known a creative career was an option. Probably not. I guess I just wanted to give people the same opportunities that I had.
| say hi to_ | Where did you get the confidence to start working independently on the project? How did the transition happen exactly? Did you quit your job or did you work on The Dots on the side?
| Pip | I never really aspired to run my own thing. It kind of just happened... It was such an amazing idea and something I really needed personally. I kind of thought it was just worth going for.
We developed the idea while at MTV ... but when we felt it had real potential we quit our dream jobs and worked on it around the clock.
| say hi to_ | How did you go about financing in the beginning? Did you auto-finance or got sponsors in from the beginning?
| Pip | I sunk my life savings into building it at the start. Which wasn't a huge amount of money; MTV doesn't pay that much.... but it was enough to get it up and running and it being used. Once it started getting real traction we raised investment.
| say hi to_ | How long did it take until you got the website up and running and being used?
| Pip | Around 9 months... it was a bit like having a baby :-)
| say hi to_ | That is super fast! Amazing job. Did it take 9 months from concept to creation? How did you go about getting investors? Do you have any advice to share on how to get investors and specifically when you would recommend to get some and when not to, etc?
| Pip | Oh gosh that lovely to hear, it didn't feel fast at all. Especially when you're not earning anything and having to live of tinned tuna.
| Pip | Raising investment is tough, really tough. It's an endless stream of meetings and you're not able to always focus on the business. I started by creating an investment pack, then got in-touch with anyone I knew who might now someone who invests. One meeting leads to another and eventually your drum up the interest you need.
I also did dragon dens like pitches at events.... which were usually completely male dominated... I was terrible at pitching at the beginning but every meeting you learn something and improve for the next one. In the end it's all about perseverance, a good idea and team.
| say hi to_ | Is it a predominantly male dominated business, raising investment? Do you feel this is more difficult being a woman? Do you need a hard shell and poker face in order to succeed? What are your experiences with that?
| Pip | To be honest it really depends on which investor you are chatting to. The good ones don't care a bit if your a man or a women, they just see the person, the team, the product and the idea. However, there are lots of not-so-good investors out there, which do have an unconscious (sometime conscious) bias against women. This makes it tougher for women to raise.
I had one investor who said "I don't invest in women, you're just going to get pregnant", another who lead me along for ages only to ask me on a date.... but to be honest I'm glad I found out their character early on. If I were a man I may have taken their money and not realised their lack of character until it was too late. So maybe being a women is actually an advantage - it helps you spot the bad investors quicker!
Oh and I’m not very good at the hard shell thing. I lead from the heart with lots of hugs; ending with a happy and productive staff. I've just been careful to only work with investors who appreciate my style as a female leader.
"Things always go wrong, so you need amazing people around you that help move things forward. "
"You may fail, you may succeed but if you love the project and the team it doesn't really matter - the journey will be amazing."
| say hi to_ | What is the best piece of advice you would give young entrepreneurs that want to start to bring their project to life? What’s the secret key of success?
| Pip | I think the most important thing is you have to love what you do. Starting out on your own is an insane roller coaster of highs and lows. If you’re passionate about what you do you can get through anything. I think the other piece of advice is hire happy positive people that focus on solutions and not problems. Things always go wrong, so you need amazing people around you that help move things forward.
You may fail, you may succeed but if you love the project and the team it doesn't really matter - the journey will be amazing.
| say hi to_ | Was there a moment when something really encouraged you not to give up?
| Pip | Every time someone lands an opportunity on the site it gives me goose bumps and it motivates me to keep going. It's the most amazing feeling to know that it works and helping people realise their full potential and connect to opportunities they deserve. That and my amazing husband and team who gives me the fuel to work crazy hours!
| say hi to_ | What is The Dots now, how many people are working for you, how is the business progressing financially?
| Pip | We're 16 in total, spread across the UK and Sri Lanka ... and business is super good :-)
"Everything is starting to be automated. Soon machines will drive, code, serve customers, do our cleaning, legal & accounts but the hardest thing to automate is creativity. Which means the value of creativity will rise and rise.... and I want to help make that happen."
| say hi to_ | Where do you want to go with your career in the future?
| Pip | My dream for The Dots, is to take it international. Creativity should be borderless and I want anyone, anywhere to be able to connect, collaborate and commercialise - so that creative ideas and projects stand their best chance of succeeding. Everything is starting to be automated. Soon machines will drive, code, serve customers, do our cleaning, legal & accounts but the hardest thing to automate is creativity. Which means the value of creativity will rise and rise.... and I want to help make that happen.
| say hi to_ | Can you recommend one person that you know from any other creative discipline who has amazing story that is worth sharing?
| Pip | Oh gosh choosing just one is super hard. I think Alice Mayor (We Built This City) would be an amazing person to interview. She's empowering makers by revolutionising the souveniers market.
Oh and Franki Ratofr , The Design Kids, Ooo and Ryan from Hello Mr. I better stop there.... I could go on and on.