Katie Hobbs: How to launch a startup without professional training

Hi Katie, so what's your story?

I’m Katie, founder of KatchUp. But that’s not all I am – I’m a daughter, a sister, a girlfriend. My relationships matter to me and that’s where KatchUp began.

A few years ago I was sat round the dinner table, chatting with my extended family. We had all these great photos from special occasions (and about 5000 videos of our crazy family dog, Biggie). But what we realised is that all those memories were scattered across laptops, phones and computers. We had no easy way to share and enjoy them together.

We knew we could use social media sites but we didn’t feel safe sharing such personal experiences. We wanted a place, somewhere just for us, where we could keep control of our memories.

And so KatchUp was born. We’ve created a private place, just for you, where you can keep you photos and videos.

What inspired you to create a startup business?

I had just finished a Masters Degree in Sport Science and was facing the harsh reality of the job market during the recession – after 4 years of studying apparently all I was qualified for was an unpaid internship! I wasn’t about to wait around for something to happen so I was keen to start my own business.

I actually spent a few months investigating business ideas in the Sport/Health Industry but when we had the idea for KatchUp everything snowballed from there really. And I was launched into an industry I knew absolutely nothing about!

How have you trained yourself?

Simply by doing it. There are so many different aspects of running a business– HR, Finance, Marketing, Design, Product Management - you have to learn about them all along the way and no amount of training could every prepare you for it anyway! 

I was very lucky in that my parents already run a business together called Chameleon Communications (A healthcare Consultancy Group), so they have been a big support and also have contacts in Branding, Marketing, Finance etc. so I was able to learn a lot from some very experienced people.

I found that people are usually very willing to share their expertise with you – my approach has always been to start off with ‘What I want to achieve?’ And then I work out how to do it. Never, ‘What can I achieve with what I know?’ – that has far too many limitations (especially given I really didn’t know anything when I started!).

What were the reasons behind not having any formal training?

On the tech side – it wasn’t realistic to go on a 3-year course and I know I would be a terrible coder anyway because I have really bad attention to detail. 

On the business side - I had a good support network from my parents, and while I run the business day to day, both my parents are non-exec Directors of KatchUp. My Mum also started off with a history degree and founded a global medical communications company – the scientists she works with often assume she has a PHD in biochemistry because of how well she understands the business. So I am a strong believer that you can become an expert in anything, you just have to start doing it. 

What are the benefits of self-training?

For me working with KatchUp, the main benefit was that I was able to have a totally fresh approach. I have always seen the product as a consumer, not as a developer. So this removed a lot of limitations and the focus has always very much been on our users and what they want in a product, not what we want to build. 

How have you kept costs to a minimum?

I’ve just written a blog post on putting a launch campaign together on a budget so there might be some useful stuff for you there – see www.playingkatchup.com

We use an Agile product development approach. Which means we start off with a very simple concept and then add features in small increments (rather than deciding everything that you will build at the start and then spend months doing this). This is popular in web development and allows us to be much more flexible and react to users quickly – also avoids wasting time and money going down rabbit holes. 

Where did your interest in tech come from?

I didn’t have one – it grew through developing the product and learning about the industry as I went.  

What’s your best entrepreneurial skill? 

Having a strong and unwavering vision for KatchUp – driving our direction and core values every day. 

It’s very easy to deviate from your path when you have input and ideas from lots of different people, or you face challenges and morale is low. There needs to be one person who can refocus all efforts towards a shared vision.

Once the team buys into it and they start to have the confidence it can be achieved, that’s when the creativity really starts to flow.

To find out more about Katie Hobbs, you can follow her personal Twitter account and check out the KatchUp website with the service launching this summer! 

We use cookies to create the most secure and effective website possible for our customers. Full details can be found here