How did you come up with the idea for BorrowMyDoggy?
About five years ago, I offered to look after my neighbour’s cute brown Labrador for the day. It was so much fun; I had really wanted a dog when I was growing up but my mum was allergic. I thought, ‘Why would dog owners spend money on kennels when there are plenty of people out there who would do it for free?’ I was working in financial services at the time but I come from an entrepreneurial family – my parents run an import business in Denmark – and I’ve always wanted to start my own venture.
How did you get the business off the ground?
I attended a start-up weekend to test the idea, handed out flyers around Hampstead Heath and set up a landing page; 85 people signed up in three days so I knew I was onto something. I raised seed funding from friends and family and launched BorrowMyDoggy in October 2013, connecting dog owners (who pay a yearly membership fee of £44.99) with local dog lovers (£12.99 a year). We now have more than half a million members, 15 staff and a couple of office dogs.
How do you manage cash flow?
Just over a year ago, we started using an American Express® Gold Business Card. It gives us a really clear overview of our spend and offers up to 54 calendar days deferred payment on purchases1 so we don’t have to pay invoices straight away. Plus we use the Membership Rewards® points3 to earn computers and donate to charities such as Great Ormond Street Hospital, Save the Children and The Global Fund.
What lessons have you learned from growing the business?
Once you get beyond 10 employees, you have to structure the business. Although I’m still involved in every aspect of BorrowMyDoggy, I’ve learnt to delegate and prioritise my time. I’ve also realised that you don’t have to try to solve everything yourself if you have a good network around you. I spend time at Google’s Campus London and at Seedcamp meeting like-minded entrepreneurs – we swap tips and share problems. It’s also important to step back once in a while and disconnect. Switching my phone off on a Sunday keeps me sane!
How American Express can help small businesses
The American Express Gold Business Card is designed to help small business owners manage finances, improve cash flow and stay in control of everyday expenses. It offers up to 54 days deferred payment on purchases1, 24/7 assistance wherever you are in the world, and has no preset spending limit2. You can also earn one Membership Rewards® point3 for every full £1 spent on purchases. These points can be used to offset everyday business expenses, and be redeemed and spent on items like flights, gifts and office equipment. A welcome bonus of 20,000 Membership Rewards points is on offer if you are approved and spend £3,000 in the first three months of Cardmembership (and have not been enrolled in the Membership Rewards programme in the past six months)4. The first year of Cardmembership is complimentary (usually £125)5. Visit: americanexpress.co.uk/business
Terms and Conditions: If you’d prefer a Card with no annual fee, rewards or other features, an alternative option is available – the Basic Card. 1 The maximum amount of time for deferred payment on purchases is 54 calendar days and is obtained only if you spend on the first day of the new statement period and repay the balance in full on the due date. 2 No preset spending limit does not mean unlimited spending. Purchasing power can adjust with your use of the Card, your payment history, credit record, financial resources known to us, and other factors. We reserve the right to apply temporary spending limits in accordance with the Cardmember Agreement. 3 Membership Rewards points are earned on every full £1 spent and charged, per transaction. Membership Rewards points are not earned on interest, fees (including default fees), balance transfers, cash advances (included cash transactions treated as cash), loading of pre paid Cards, American Express Travellers Cheque purchases or foreign exchange transactions; and any amounts that are subsequently re-credited to your Card Account by way of refunds. Visit membershiprewards.co.uk/terms for full Membership Rewards terms and conditions. 4 Shortly after the end of the three months, 20,000 bonus Membership Rewards points will be awarded. All introductory offers are subject to change and can be withdrawn at any time. 5 A £125 annual Card fee will automatically be charged to your Account on or after the anniversary of your Account opening date. Applicants must be UK residents, aged 18 or over. Approval is subject to status and terms and conditions apply. American Express Services Europe Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.