Paul Jacob of Smart Storage secured Dragon’s Den investment in 2012. He has grown the business dramatically since then.
What’s your elevator pitch?
We supply modular under stairs storage units that fit under 11.5 million suburban homes across the UK and Ireland. Our units are designed to use the un-used space under your stairs by providing a modular system that slides out giving you storage for everything from shoes, school bags, and the vacuum cleaner. Simple clean and affordable storage solutions fitted in a matter of hours.
How long have you been in business?
Smart Storage is in business since 2011. I, on the other hand, have had various business ventures since 2004 (12 years).
What did you want to be ‘when you grew up’?
I wanted to be an archaeologist. I ended up as an engineer on motorway construction. The only similarity was I got to dig holes with bigger cooler machines instead of a small hand trowel.
“You need to listen to your customer and provide the service and sales experience the customer wants. Otherwise, it’s like trying to turn an oil tanker in a bathtub.”
What’s your ambition now?
Professionally for Smart Storage I want to see it as a global brand and business with sales across the EU and North America.
Personally – I love the opportunity to try different things. I would love to go back to college in the future and study law.
I also want to continue to travel with my family, and try new challenges each year. Something we all enjoy.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned so far in business?
It’s hard work! So make sure you enjoy what you are doing otherwise it could be a long day. I love my job. I don’t see work as a chore. I see work as just one of the parts of my day.
What was your biggest ‘mistake’ been, in business so far?
Not realising that it is how the customer wants to buy not how I want to sell.
You need to listen to your customer and provide the service and sales experience the customer wants. Otherwise, it’s like trying to turn an oil tanker in a bathtub. It may be possible, but it takes along time and a lot of effort.
Who inspires you in the business world?
I admire anyone who gets off his or her ass and takes a chance to try making a business work.
I have been fortunate also to work for some fantastic people in the past, people who employed me to manage projects and run their businesses. It was an incredible opportunity to learn and practice running a business on their time, and I learned a lot of practical business advice.
As for historical business legends, I admire people who managed to game change an industry, like Henry Ford, Steve Jobs, and Michael O’Leary.
What historical figure would you choose to have dinner with?
Mohammad and Jesus would be interesting guests, to get their views on how their religious teachings worked out.
If you were ‘ruler for a day’ what would you do to change the business or social climate in this country?
To change the business environment, I would outlaw the Personnel Guarantee. A limited company is meant to have limited liability. If the business model does not stand up for investment, don’t invest. The interest rate can be adjusted for the risk, but personnel guarantees are not right.
Did you receive any supports to start your business and what do you need most at this stage of your business?
We got fantastic support from Wicklow Enterprise Board. They were great to work with. We also got great support from our investors, from Dragon’s Den in 2012 (Norah Casey).