LONDON - In this CNCS blogpost we are pleased to introduce IncuBus Ventures. In this series we speak to innovative and expanding businesses as they reveal their highlights and challenges, in addition to providing some top tips for success. This series tells the stories of of bright thinkers who leveraged their creativity to revolutionise the world as we know it.
This week Rishi Chowdhury, Co Founder of IncuBus Ventures, tells us about a company "supporting startups and large enterprises with brand recognition and engagement with customers".
What does IncuBus Ventures do?
IncuBus Ventures was born to help startups grow their business. Our current focus is on supporting startups and large enterprises with brand recognition and engagement with customers.
The is done via pop ups events and activities hosted on our double decker bus at various locations in and around the UK and Europe. In 2014 we bought a double decker bus and initially renovated it into an office. That is where we hosted startup incubator programmes. With time we grew as a company and to host later stage startup programmes from lovely venues like Cocoon Networks London. I would say the bus has now taken on a life of its own. It travels around Europe, it goes to events and its hosts pop-ups with some of the fastest growing startups and forward-thinking corporates. This helps attendees better engage with customers or clients. The bus has a big presence and sees high footfall and engagement for companies to make the most out of.
The other side of what we do is with corporates. We hold workshops and run programmes to help them better discover technologies and how it’s impact on different industries. We also help them work on their innovation strategies by looking at their vision going forward and at how they can better interact with startups.
The programmes we have run have chiefly been at an incubator or accelerator level and they have been based on either specific topics depending on the goals of our corporate partners or on more general themes. They have been very much focussed on helping startups with the early traction and on getting their business fundamentals down.
How have you come up with this business idea?
George and I were working for a company called Huddle which is an online collaboration SaaS company for large enterprises and governments. I joined when the company was very small and left after a few years when the company had grown across the world to about 170 employees and had raised $40-50 million. We were working with a lot of startups through events we had been doing outside of that. We had also understood corporate needs through our job. After one of the events and a few beers George and I had the idea to start an incubator to support startups in the ecosystem get through the early stages of starting their company. The bus idea came as we wanted to allow entrepreneurs to be flexible and explore opportunities with customers and investors across the UK and not just London.
How hard was it to get your idea off the ground? What have you found most challenging?
I wouldn’t say getting our idea off the ground was hard. Many people initially fear losing their steady job and being unsuccessful. However I would say this wasn’t the case for us. We had been involved in early-stage projects before, both successful and unsuccessful. To a certain extent, we knew what we were getting ourselves into. We knew it wouldn’t be easy and that it would take time. I would say the hardest part was in terms of trying to do everything that needed to be done. There’s a lot that comes with starting a business and there were only two of us in the early days, so our job was pretty much 24/7. We soon hired a couple of interns that helped us manage our growth and soon after we could afford a full-time team.
What have you learned from the process?
One of the things we learnt is how to manage people. Both George and I were quite young when we started and this was a fairly new skill for us. This is especially true in our case, as we work with many founders with vastly different backgrounds and experience.
The second was the ability to quickly learn from relevant feedback and to act upon it in a functional, timely and cost-effective manner. This is something we learnt very quickly and that has certainly given us a bit of an advantage. Our learning process was eased by the fact that our business model wasn’t tied to anything already existing in the market.
What are the highlights of your expansion?
I would say a highlight of our expansion is definitely having, over the years, fantastic clients both on the corporate and the startup side. The startups we’ve worked with have been incredible; they’ve gone on to grow to become household names. It’s great to see companies you’ve worked with at an early stage grow so quickly. Seeing that everybody is using their services or is talking about them is extremely fulfilling. With time, we have realised that what we do offers a lot of value and helps business be successful: this awareness has been incredibly rewarding.
What advice would you give to other startup founders?
I’d say for one, if you have an idea just go ahead and do it. At the same time don’t be too oblivious to the feedback you receive and don’t take it too personally. You can receive all sorts of feedback. You need to be able to filter the comments you receive without being too attached to an approach, idea or perspective. You need to be able to adjust based on the feedback you’re getting, but not on every piece of feedback! This is because some of the feedback might be biased, irrelevant or inadequate. This is about looking at the data, evaluating feedback for yourself and then making decisions based on a good understanding of the market and your in-depth knowledge of your business.
Why are you here at Cocoon? How has this environment contributed to the growth of your company?
We’ve been in many co-working spaces across London over the past few years partly because of the clients we worked with. We joined as Cocoon Networks London is perfectly located between the city - where a lot of our corporate clients are based - and Shoreditch – where many of our startups clients are situated. We needed an office that had an events space and meeting rooms for my other business, Momentum. The space is also 5 minutes from where the bus is based when not on the road with clients.
What are your plans for the future?
We are looking to expand operations with more corporate and startup roadshows on the bus, helping clients engage with customers or potential customers in locations where they have little presence.
We are also looking to establish longer term partnerships with corporates who are supporting and working closely with fast growing startups via support, events or programmes.
To do this we’re looking to grow our team!
Find out more about IncuBus Ventures and hiring the bus at