It can sometimes feel like COVID-19 has changed everything for the worse. For entrepreneurs, in particular, it might seem like the already low odds of success have lowered even further. 

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Despite the global restrictions and economic difficulties, success is still possible. 

To help you feel inspired, we’re going to look at some self-employed success stories from right here in the UK. These are people who have managed to thrive, despite all the odds, and become successful entrepreneurs. 

Specifically, we’ll be talking about:

  • Devan Hughes, CEO of Buymie
  • Tom Szirtes, CEO of Bodyswaps
  • George Richardson, the CEO at AeroCloud
  • Alena Golden, co-founder of Rap Fame
  • Rebecca Kelly, CEO of VenueScanner

We’ll give a brief rundown of who they are, how they started, and what they do now. And we’ll see what valuable lessons we can learn from their stories. 

Devan Hughes, CEO of Buymie

Devan Hughes is the CEO and co-founder of Buymie, an app that offers its users same-day grocery delivery. They’ve recently partnered with Lidl and Co-op, making the future of Buymie look very promising. 

In preparation for the launch of Buymie, Hughes spent a full year improving his knowledge of the tech and grocery industry. He got a job at Salesforce (an American cloud-based software company) and spent evenings researching the grocery business. 

Hughes is the first to admit that creating a successful business was incredibly difficult. He started out by making every delivery himself, which could happen at any time 9am to 10pm, Monday to Sunday. 

Hughes has been part of 4 previous failed start-ups in the past and has had a number of vastly different careers in between. He attributes his success to his broad experience and failures, learning valuable lessons from every setback. 

Tom Szirtes, CEO of Bodyswaps

Tom Szirtes is the chief technology officer and co-founder of Bodyswaps, a VR tool that helps users improve their soft skills, like listening and empathy. 

It works by recording difficult conversations, which users can then watch back and review. The programme will guide users through the conversations and coach them on appropriate responses. 

Szirtes saw his opportunity as the business world began putting an emphasis on soft skills, but noticed there were no reliable ways of actually improving them on a large scale. Soft skills were often seen as undefinable people skills that some people had and others didn’t. Bodyswaps makes it possible for anybody to learn. 

Szirtes has a professional background working in video games, so an interactive VR training platform was definitely in his wheelhouse. Like other business owners, Szirtes has commented on the amount of personal time he’s had to sacrifice to make his business a success.

George Richardson, CEO of AeroCloud

Aerocloud is a management platform that shows airport staff the effects of delays, diversions, and cancellations, in real-time. The platform allows staff to adjust their plans as they go. The platform works with advanced AI capable of machine learning.

Despite the pandemic, Aerocloud has continued to grow since 2017, taking off in airports all over the USA, including Tampa international, Sarasota Bradenton, and John Wayne, California. 

Richardson attributes his passion for business as an innate part of his character. Coming from a family of business owners, he has a passion for encouraging successful business growth outside of London. 

Alena Golden, co-founder of Rap Fame

Rap Fame is an app co-created by Alena Golden. The app allows you to record, promote, and share rap tracks with other users. Golden started making apps like this when she was just 25. 

In a few short years, the app has found over 10 million users all over the world, seeing over 6 million tracks uploaded between 2019 and 2020.

Golden’s background is in computer science and maths, so she puts a lot of her attention into user metrics and behaviour patterns to constantly improve her product and give her users the best possible experience. 

This constant review of user info, coupled with Rap Fame’s relatively low marketing spending, has led to a thriving business. 

Rebecca Kelly, VenueScanner

VenueScanner is an online platform that helps event organisers find their perfect venue from a network of over 20,000 venues across the UK. 

The business was the first of its kind and was a huge hit among all kinds of users from office managers organising team days, to high-level executives looking for last-minute locations to entertain clients. 

Kelly has spoken about the negative impact that COVID-19 had on her business and the hospitality industry in general. Despite the massive setback, Kelly took the time to reorganise her business structure, improve the product, raise funding, and look for new talent that would help drive the business forward. 

Kelly has continued to thrive as COVID-19 restrictions have begun to ease. She’s constantly looking to improve her service with a keen focus on customer satisfaction, platform conversion rates, and finding new venue members.

Use what you know / Find out what you don’t

Many of our featured business owners draw on their past experiences and interests. Whether it’s rap music, like Alena Golden, or George Richardson’s love of all things business, working in a field that you’re already passionate about will help you stay motivated and give you valuable insights into your industry.

On the other hand, you might not know much about an industry but see a potential opportunity within it. Devan Hughes did exactly that, he recognised his own inexperience in the tech and grocery industry, and did everything he could to improve his knowledge, before launching his product. 

Treat any change as an opportunity

While COVID-19 was undoubtedly a problem for business owners, the reaction to the problem speaks volumes about the kind of people who will succeed. 

Rebecca Kelly, for example, used the time to improve her product, raise funding, and recruit talent in preparation for the next stage of her business’ life. 

Learn from your failures

One thing that’s true of all these business owners is their resilience in the face of defeat. Every one of them has faced difficult times and learned from them, making them stronger, more knowledgeable, and better equipped to deal with any problems they might face in the future. 

Start your own success story with Countingup

Financial management can be stressful and time-consuming when you’re self-employed. That’s why thousands of business owners use the Countingup app to make their financial admin easier. 

Countingup is the business current account with built-in accounting software that allows you to manage all your financial data in one place. With features like automatic expense categorisation, invoicing on the go, receipt capture tools, tax estimates, and cash flow insights, you can confidently keep on top of your business finances wherever you are. 

You can also share your bookkeeping with your accountant instantly without worrying about duplication errors, data lags or inaccuracies. Seamless, simple, and straightforward! 
Find out more here.