Jordan Daykin is a 22-year-old entrepreneur and the most successful business owner to ever come through Dragon’s Den.
He saw success with a number of small businesses before his company GripIt Fixings was invested in by Deborah Meaden when he was just 18. The company is now worth £20 million.
As well as founding GripIt Fixings, Daykin is the CEO of VPS Group Ltd, was named as one of Forbes’ 30 under 30 in 2017 and regularly spends time in Parliament and at Downing Street as part of his work for young entrepreneurs.
Where did this entrepreneurial streak come from and what was your first business venture?
My entrepreneurial streak came from my Grandad and my Dad. When growing up they were both businessmen, owning and running their own companies. I looked up to them, and when I was younger I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do until I invested GripIt – that’s when the entrepreneurial side of me came out.
My first business venture was called RS2 services, which I created around the video game Runescape, which my friends and I played a lot of at the age of 12. In short, the business sold virtual gold to other players of the game. I would buy from a supplier in bulk (meaning I would get a discount) and I would sell it on for more, making a slight profit each time. I set up a website where players just like me could buy, and I would advertise my services through the game.
What did you learn from founding businesses so young?
I learnt to be patient because not everything gets handed to you on a plate. Building a business doesn’t happen overnight… there are processes and structures to put in place first. It’s an exciting thing but you don’t want to rush anything, it must all run its natural course in order for it operate smoothly and successfully.
How did your family feel about your childhood business ventures? And how did they fit in around education?
My family were very excited about my business ventures and would support me in numerous ways – whether that was helping me by getting hands-on or just giving me some encouragement. RS2 was perfect as I would wake up early to set it up ensuring it would run smoothly while I was at school, and then I would come home and work on it some more.
I had to leave school as a result of being bullied, which is when I created a business called Tutor Magnet. I was being homeschooled at the time, but it was difficult to schedule different tutors at different times to give me the education I needed. That was when I thought of this simple idea, an online tool which would identify a tutor with the right skills and abilities based on subject, level and area. When I founded GripIt, I didn’t really have a full ‘conventional’ education…it just didn’t work for me. I put all my effort into GripIt and I’m pleased to say it’s paid off.
How did you feel in those moments before stepping into the Dragon’s Den?
I was very nervous, my stomach was in knots! I didn’t want to think about it to be honest. Everyone auditioning was running through their pitches in front of me, but I just wanted to sit down and try to keep myself calm. I couldn’t believe it was actually happening!
What did that experience teach you?
Going into The Den taught me to believe in myself, the business and the product. Before The Den, I had people telling me it wouldn’t work, but I stuck to my guns and managed to win Deborah’s interest, trust, and investment, which proved to be invaluable in the subsequent growth of the business.
What would you say is key to growing a successful business?
Key to a successful business is very similar to the anecdotes I’ve shared above. Keep doing what you’re doing, don’t give up and believe in what you’re doing. It will work if you want it to!
How do you manage to juggle family and work?
I have recently become a dad, and I couldn’t be prouder. Before my daughter arrived I found it really difficult to manage family and work. However, now, I come into work early to get things done before anyone is in, allowing me to get lots done. I then leave a little earlier in the evenings to get home to spend some time with my fiancé and daughter.
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs struggling to find that balance?
The advice I would give to entrepreneurs struggling to find a balance between work and their personal life would be to step back and take a long look at what you have and consider what really needs to be done right now. Prioritise and try to spread your time evenly, meaning you can enjoy what really matters in life while remaining productive.
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs looking to make their first million?
Don’t quit and don’t look back, keep pushing forward. Everything will be worth it in the end.
How does your role in your businesses change as they grow? Is there a big difference in your day-to-day working life since your businesses have grown into the millions?
As your business grows your role will naturally change. For example, you’ll start to take on more staff and delegating work (such as customer service) to free up your own time to focus on long-term growth. It’s likely you will still be heavily involved (because you’ll always be needed!) but as you grow you’ll have a large, competent team supporting you, who all want to achieve the same thing and see the business go from strength to strength.