Levi Roots first came to public prominence on BBC’s Dragons Den series 4 episode 1, when he blew the Dragons away by making his pitch for funding by singing and playing his guitar. Two of the so-called Dragons invested in him and his product and although they took a large slice of his company for a relatively small initial cash investment, the real value it seems came later in teh quality of advice, networks and publicity they were able to generate.
So now Levi owns a small share of a large bottle of sauce rather than all of a small bottle. The crucial thing about this reggae singing musician is that he is completely in tune with the harsh reality of capitalism! He seems comfortable with the idea of sharing, being open with his ideas and inclusive in the people who help him run the business. Although in reality it seems like all his 7 children and his 4 year old grandchild are involved, not to mention his mother and his grandmother who were both strong influences on him!
So what are the top 5 points we can learn from Levi?
You need to start out in life as a self-starter, energetic and being willing to have a go. If you are inhibited and wait for others to lead you all you can do is get into trouble or just plain do nothing.
As you search around and become alert to opportunities, you might find something about which you believe in passionately – this is the starting point of forming a dream that you can then set out to turn into a business.
You need to plan for the long term, because it is going to be tough and if your dream is to make a difference and make it big you will need to be persistent, patient and keep at it over the lkng haul of the roller coaster ride.
Get real advice – find a top quality lawyer, a good accountant and get a mentor who has been there and done it before. These are almost the first steps to any form of success.
Do what it takes to stand out from the crowd. There are a lot of people, lot of ideas and if you just do what everyone else does, you will disappear into the wallpaper. You have to really learn to communicate, have a truly excellent product or service and build a top quality team that gets noticed.
Beyond these high level lessons from Levi, oozing with self confidence and driven at the same time by a sense of spirituality and common sense in business, a key moment arose in his business when his mentors turned Levi Roots from being a product based company into a brand. Levi is charismatic and a great communicator, so his shareholders have advised him to go and give speeches, build the brand and leave the sauce making and selling to the others in the company.
He has certainly demonstrated a thorough capacity to learn and be open to learning, which is something I have seen in many other entrepreneurs. This flexibility of mind, openness and yet a dogged ability to see things through is what differentiates the bright ideas bod from the successful entrepreneur. Good luck Levi – we hope to see you back in Cambridge.