Hamish Robertson, CEO and Co-Founder of The Watch Collectors’ Club, April 2021
My entrepreneurial journey is about starting something new, and learning new things. I left a good job in a great team, with intellectually stimulating work and smart people. I saw a huge opportunity to build something that will bring people together. It’s an opportunity that could get very large, and I was sure I could learn a lot of new things and have some fun doing it.
The final 18 months of my previous job were difficult, stressful and unenjoyable. I was faced with a choice between staying where I was and rediscovering my passion for it, or finding something else to commit my energy and passion to over the next few years. I spent a year thinking about pros and cons of leaving versus staying. I realized that starting a company, trying to get it off the ground, and building something new would be a much more exciting way to use invest my time. If I learn fast, work hard, and have some good luck along the way, I could build something great.
The Inspiration to Quit
Early in 2019 I decided with a business partner to try out a business hosting events for watch collectors. We realised there was a type of event that didn’t exist that we thought we’d quite like to go to. This meant there was a gap in the market, and we wanted to fill it ourselves. We had three trial runs in winter 2019 to 2020 before the pandemic arrived, and all three events went very well. While putting these events on, my business partner and I spent a lot of time imagining what kind of company we could build and how big an opportunity this could be. The more work we did on the idea, the more we realized that there was a good chance a great business could be built.
Having resigned in June from my previous job at the end of June 2020 I embarked on the research phase of the business. My work over that summer made it clear that the opportunity we identified was huge, and there were many different things we could try that hadn’t been tried before in the world of watches.
The Research Phase
The summer of 2020 was an exciting, fascinating, and inspiring personal journey for me. As I entered this research phase, it became research into personal growth as well as professional growth. From the very first week it felt like I was starting from scratch, as never before had I considered so many new topics; how to start a business, how to start thinking about your potential customers, how to start thinking about the product offering, and more! I realised I should learn to use more software tools, get better at excel, learn about databases, and keep a personal CRM, or Customer/Client Relationship database.
When starting a new project, research is necessary. I realised just how many resources there are out there for people starting a new business. It was a wonderful surprise to find just what is available when you go online. This may sound naive, but it’s simply the truth. I realized that the same is true for other people. One of the problems of the modern world is the sheer scale of what’s out there to consume.
This led to another opportunity for my business; it could grow to be a place where people would come for information about watches. We could use a new voice and a new way of presenting information to help people uncover the may great brands, technologies and stories of the watch world. Ideas for the business grew as my own learnings grew. The original goal, bringing people together and removing barriers to the enjoyment and sharing of watches, would be expanded and enhanced by a great online offering, and could make the club a truly global proposition. It would also increase the number of different revenue opportunities available in the long term.
Ideas and Opportunities
The other exciting thing about start-up research is that ideas come from the most varied places. As I learned more about different approaches to growth, or different parts of the watch industry, ideas about potential products or services sprang to life. These ideas are for the future, and they can’t all be done at once. Some of them will never happen, become distractions or worse. That doesn’t stop them from being exciting now, and the constant stream of new ideas is one of the most enjoyable things about running a start-up.
The great thing about my start-up journey so far has been how much I have learned and how much opportunity has arisen. I’m already able to do some consulting work for my friend using what I’ve learned. I’ve written a short book to give out to future club members. I’ve thought hard about company culture. I’ve attended online webinars and events I wouldn’t have otherwise, all in the name of event research. I’ve learned about so many new software tools, some of which I have adopted.
I’ve not yet made any money, nor yet got a customer. Those will come with time. What I have got is more of an education I could have dreamed about, especially given the pandemic and lockdowns.
Ready to Grow
As the pandemic fades, and we return to our core goal, putting on events to bring people together, my next phase of learning begins. I get to meet new people, hire people, work as a new team, and expand our presence to get our product known across the world. I will learn so much more so quickly, and I expected many more opportunities will present themselves again. The main lesson I have taken from my first year in this new career as an entrepreneur; more growth will equal more learning and then more opportunities. I hope it never stops.
About The Watch Collectors’ Club
This is a Club for everyone who likes watches. We want you to join our community, a club to explore, share, and simply talk about watches. You will meet a community of people enthusiastic about watches of all kinds, willing to share and learn from each other. We will provide fun and interesting ways to discover new corners of the watch world, learn more about the timepieces and watch companies themselves, and meet like-minded people. Find us at www.thewatchcollectors.club, on Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn.