MY WEEK: Shed Simove, entrepreneur and ideas man

Shed Simove is the entrepreneur behind a myriad of quirky products such as the blank book titled 'What Every Man Thinks About Apart From Sex'. We catch up with him to hear his latest ideas.

by Gabriella Griffith
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

I work really erratic hours; I think it’s a strange human convention that someone decided we must work from nine to five, Monday to Friday. It’s very odd to organize ourselves that way. I think any human tradition should be challenged on a daily basis. Challenging the way things are done provides creativity and business opportunities.

I generally work from home in south west London and sometimes work til 6am, speaking to partners in China and dealing with factories there. I don’t have a company or employees, which works very well for me because it means I can be flexible.

Working this way can be both empowering and stressful – the life of an entrepreneur suits different personality types. My ‘type’ is so contrary - a real nightmare - so this is the only way I could really work.

This week has been a really exciting one – my first Kickstarter campaign for Belt Mistletoe finished – I’ve been fascinated by Kickstarter, it’s really disrupted the model of how people make an idea come to life. You can get funding without making creative compromises. I was successful and got funding – it was a great way to test the demand before investing.
I did just get my latest product, the cancer stick cigarette cover, banned from it, though. I feel like my job is to challenge societal taboos – I didn’t want to produce cigarettes as they cause harm, but I thought I would create a clever parody of the whole cigarette 'plain packaging' situation.

Belt Mistletoe

Shed Simove's Belt MIstletoe

It was banned by Kickstarter for being unsuitable – which is absolutely fine! I come across negative barriers all of the time. Those hurdles are like kicks in the stomach, but I will find another way. In fact, I’m going to launch a campaign for the product on Indiegogo [another crowd funding platform] after this interview - they don't check campaigns before they're published.

In the same breath, I heard from the Trademark Office about my application for the Cancer Sticks trademark, which has been turned down. They said this was because the name was descriptive. Fair enough - you can’t TM the word orange if you are a greengrocer, but I said this is slang, not a description. I do get a lot of TMs rejected – but my finest hour was when I had ‘The Trademark Office has no sense of humor’ trademarked. It’s the little things...

I also got a sample from China this week of my new product; it’s the most exciting thing to get prototypes in the post. I got the sample through for a balloon idea I am creating - it’s under wraps for now, but will hit the stores this Christmas.

My working week is so varied. Earlier I got a really exciting booking for a corporate speech to 140 business people in south east England. My speeches are around how to be creative and how to come up with ideas: I'm so fortunate big companies such as BT and the BBC pay me to talk to their teams about how to think differently – I adore doing it, it’s such an honor.

I get really nervous before doing them but it’s the same as everything in my business life – I’ve learned to live in a constant state of anxiety. If I’m not anxious about something, it's usually because I’m not trying hard enough…

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