Elspeth Briscoe is the CEO and Founder of Learning with Experts. Elspeth wrote a dissertation about the future of the internet in the early 90s, and subsequently went on to hold senior positions in strategy at eBay and Skype, having joined in start-up stage.
From December 2012 – December 2013 Elspeth was a consultant to The Guardian Chief Digital Officer on Digital Strategy & Growth Hacking. She also is a qualified landscape designer.
I didn’t decide to become an entrepreneur. I’ve just always been this way. Aged six much to my parents horror, I was caught polishing up stones in my neighbourhood and then selling them as paperweights. I have always loved selling, and I’ve always been someone who’s not scared to challenge the status quo. To me it’s more interesting solving a need or an issue, and it’s a creative process being an entrepreneur. It’s something I can’t help, rather than being a conscious decision.
I think entrepreneurship is a creative discipline. And that combined with the drive and ambition to solve a problem, and not give up until it’s done. It’s also based in an instinct for risk taking and steering a business.
I’ve always thought it was. But having paying customers (and 33,000 registered users) – has begun to demonstrate that we’re fulfilling a real need, and therefore gives us the momentum to continue to scale.
- Tenacity – there are so many pitfalls in running a startup and being an entrepreneur. You have to be of the mentality to never give up
- Creativity – usually startups and entrepreneurs need to constantly rethink and twist and turn, and pivot ideas. This is really a creative skill.
- Project Management – unless you can manage your project and finances you can’t build a successful business and be a successful entrepreneur. Cash is king, and maintaining liquidity is an important skill.
I love the freedom of being able to do things differently. Really solving a problem for people. For me it’s a creative process, and it feels very much my comfort zone.
I’m very inspired by people like Grayson Perry the artist. He has changed the way people view art. He’s also has no fear about breaking the status quo, being viewed as differently and challenging us as human beings.
I really admire some businesses who have changed the way we behave as human beings. Fitbits for example – are influencing us to do more exercise, through tapping into our competitive natures, and need for data.
I’d discuss their thoughts on Learning with Experts. People with creative minds will often see things from a completely different perspective. I’d also ask Grayson Perry to teach an art course on our site!
I should have raised more money at the outset, rather than doing it in several stages. I’ve hired a couple of people (historically) who looking back I should have been more patient and waiting for someone excellent, rather than hiring someone who was ok.
We’ve done three rounds of funding with VCs and angels from eBay, Skype and The Guardian
The Oxford Centre for Innovation is perfect for us. Location wise we spend time going to London too. Oxford being a centre of academic excellence also really helps as we are an education based company. Our experts come from all over the world – so the brand of Oxford also fits well with our business.
I would send them to The Oxford Centre for Innovation
Be brave! And follow your instincts.