Planning for parties or events can be very stressful knowing that it is not easy just to have everybody on the same page. Most can’t agree even on simple things like the time and place. Thankfully, there is emble, a web app that allows users to plan events with your friends easily. Whether you want to organize and collect money for paid events or you are just setting up a holiday get together with old pals, plan and run it easily with emble so you can stop worrying and focus more on having fun!
Founder and CEO of emble, Tom Starley, talks about how efficiently he runs this lean startup and how he finds balance between working remotely and keeping the team close. He also shares a bit about why his entrepreneurial spirit runs deep because of modern bike and differential gears.
What’s your company about? What do you do? Who are your customers?
emble is a web app that will allow users to plan amazing events with their friends. We want to make it easier for people to organize small-scale events such as birthday parties and holidays, so they can have more fun!
What’s the greatest thing about your company/website? Why is it better than the competition?
Whilst there are currently products available that do part of what emble does, nothing offers the full package. Using emble, people can suggest and vote on ideas with their carefully chosen team of organisers – once they’re happy with the date and activity, they can run the event, inviting friends from across social networks and via email. emble also allows users to collect money from their guests – perfect for designated holiday-bookers and people needing their guests to contribute.
How’d you come up with the name for your company?
I’m sure anyone who’s been involved in a startup will appreciate how hard it is to come up with a unique name that suits the product, and emble was no exception – in fact, emble was previously known by another name, but we rebranded to the current identity several months ago. After exhausting possibilities that directly referenced ‘planning’ and ‘events’, we settled on emble because every member of the team loved how it sounded (and the fact it wasn’t already spoken for didn’t hurt)!
What was your first computer? How old were you when you first got on the world wide web?
My first computer was an Amiga 500, which I primarily used to play Lemmings. I guess I would have been around 13 when I first experienced the wonders of the internet!
What time do you usually start work each day? How many hours a day do you usually work?
Now that we’re gearing up for the launch of the private beta in June, it’s all hands on deck. The team day is officially 9am-5:30pm, but I usually start earlier and finish much later because there’s so much to do!
When’s the last time you went on vacation and where did you go?
My last holiday was a trip to Amsterdam for my birthday at the New Year. I love Amsterdam because it’s such a beautiful city, and being based in the UK it’s easy to go for a long weekend.
What’s the very first thing you do at work every day?
Grab a coffee and fire up Asana, which we use for project management, then jump on to Sqwiggle to chat with the team.
When do your best ideas come to you? In bed in the morning? During dinner? On your third beer?
I find I my best ideas come to me when I’m out for a walk – walking gives me the space I need to think.
How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?
Whilst the initial idea for emble was mine (I needed an easier way to organise my five-a-side football matches), I’ve had a great bunch of people working on the product with me. There’s two more who are part of the official team, plus a handful who have helped with design, development and marketing. I’m fortunate to have such a talented group of individuals around me!
A lot of people have big ideas. What gave you the confidence to actually go after yours?
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and think it runs in the family; John Kemp Starley (my great great great grandfather) is considered to be the inventor of the modern bicycle, and his uncle James was the brains behind the differential gear. I’ve been working for myself since leaving college and I think my own confidence in my ideas is what spurs me on.
Remember the early days of starting up? Describe the struggles you went through.
It’s still quite early days for the emble team as we’re pre-launch, but we’ve already learned a lot. We were originally overly optimistic when it came to our timescales, and as such, have seen launch pushed back significantly. However, we’ve learned to adapt quite well and have overcome potential stumbling blocks like having to change our name.
How do you handle frustration? What has been your biggest professional frustration?
Football and drums! But knowing you can’t control everything also helps. Distance when working as a team is sometimes frustrating, but we’ve established a pretty good dynamic.
What’s your office environment like? Do you listen to music? Watch movies? Play video games?
We’re currently working remotely, but keep in touch via Sqwiggle. We try and meet up at least once weekly to ensure we maintain our closeness as a team, but being apart does have the benefit of not squabbling over Spotify playlists!
How do you picture your company in 5 years?
Successful but fun. Hopefully a game changer.
Who or what inspires YOU? Role models? Quotes? Running? Video games? Snack food?
A good book, or a relaxing holiday. Music, drums and football.
How’d you fund this venture? VC? Self-funding? Crowdfunded? Where’d you get the money, man?
emble’s a pretty lean startup – we’ve received a private loan to cover our startup costs, which we’ve
Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?
With the team working remotely, we save on rent and associated costs. I’m lucky in that I’ve worked with most of the people involved in the setup of emble before, which meant there’s a really strong level of trust between us.
What other advice do you have for other entrepreneurs struggling to get started?
Don’t surround yourself with yes men, learn how to delegate (and when to step back), and manage your expectations!
What would you do if you had a year off and $500,000 to spend (on something other than work)?
I’d love to move to the south of France and create an self-sufficient house.
Do you consider yourself a successful entrepreneur? If not, what’ll make you feel successful?
Not yet, but I’m determined and I try and listen to all the people around me. Having a passion for what you do helps; you’ve got to enjoy the process.
Top 5 websites you couldn’t live without and why?
Couldn’t get emble built without them!
What is your music streaming player of choice, and what are you listening to right now?
I love Spotify – the whole team’s on it and we build collaborative playlists for when we’re working together. There’s a strongly enforced veto system! I’ve recently been listening to Washed Out, GoGo Penguin and Small Black – and I’m always listening to Primal Scream.
Number 1 country you’ve always wanted to visit but haven’t yet? (And why that country?)
One of the many places I would love to visit is Tibet; it seems like a magical place with a really interesting culture.
Three people (other than you) we should follow on Twitter and why?
Please share some specific numbers (funding, revenue, visitors) that highlight your growth.
It’s early days for emble, so we’re hoping to see a big increase in numbers when we launch our beta in a few weeks. We’re inviting people to sign up for our closed beta, which we’re due to open in mid-June – here’s the link.
Where Can Our Readers Find You Online?