Posted: Fri 11th Jan 2013
DesktagÂ is a classic 5-9 business, started and run by Richard Baldock in the evenings while he continues with his full-time job. Like thousands of other small entrepeneurs, he's fitting his venture around his life as he takes it through its early stages - and so far it's working well, as Emma Jones discovered.
Richard Baldock (left) started his company, Desktag, in 2008 when he first came up with the idea for slick-looking self-assembly name-tags for desks. But with a busy home life and young family, turning the idea into reality and getting products manufactured only happened in early 2012. Richard's product is a sturdy, freestanding plastic sleeve that can sit on everything from a hotel helpdesk to a speaker's lectern. You fill it with a stylish paper tag designed with the help of the company's creator app.
Just print it off when you're happy, fold twice, and slide it in place. It's much better than hastily scrawled paper notes, and more flexible and affordable than engraved metal or laminated plastic. It was whilst at work that Richard spotted the potential for the product. "I've always worked in big open plan offices," he says. "Finding people in that kind of place can be a problem. How often have you walked through an office searching for someone, feeling embarrassed to be staring at rows of people and screens, and not knowing who to turn to? With ever-changing technology and office churn, along with flexible working styles like 'hot-desking', the need to identify the whereabouts of staff, contractors and visitors has become a challenge for any organisation. I thought Desktag could be the answer."
Getting employer buy-in
Richard developed the business while holding down his day job. "My employer is aware of my business; I made the decision early on that it was important that they knew. I was a director of the company and planning to use social media networks in the evenings to build my brand. When telling my employer I planned what I was going to say. I actually turned it into a mini pitch, selling the benefits of the product and how it could help our organisation. "Once my idea was discussed it was clear there was no conflict of interest so they were comfortable with me pursuing in my own time. To aid my presentation I created a branded tag for the HR director and she liked it so much she placed an order. So my employer become my first customer!"
IT to run and promote the business
When it comes to time management, Richard is disciplined and doesn't let Desktag interfere with the 9-5 job. He embraces technology to catch up on email and social media links in the evening. "I've recently moved my domain to Google Apps for Business, and my core files to Dropbox, which means I can access all data from anywhere. If I have anything of any interest to say to my Twitter followers, I use Buffer to schedule them; it means I have a varied spread of times when I tweet." Throughout 2012, Richard concentrated on building the Desktag product portfolio and ensuring both brand and product are protected through intellectual property protection. The software development skills required for the business have been sourced via Elance.com. With the product-set ready, the focus for 2013 is on promotion and building the brand. "The limited amount of promotion I have done is mainly via networking events and social media channels; you can meet some fantastic contacts through these and gain valuable feedback. I have a bag full of tags with me at all times to display at events and I take along a battery powered printer so I can create and print tags live at events. The tag creation process is really easy - it just uses a piece of A4 paper." With promotion at the ready, expect to see great things from this start-up over the next 12 months. Tag that!
Read more start-up stories in the StartUp Kit 2013
Richard's story is taken from our newly updated StartUp Kit - the essential guide to starting and running a small business in 2013. It's available from the Enterprise Nation shop as both an ebook and a print publication. [product id="65592"]