Stashbee co-founder David Mantle talks to BQ about his journey from astronaut ambitions to entrepreneurial success.
What is it the company does?
Stashbee is an online, sharing economy platform which connects individuals and businesses who have spare spaces, such as parking spots, garages, spare rooms and warehouses, with those who need them. Guests are empowered to compare features of the spaces, prices, locations and ratings. While hosts benefit from an easy and safe way to monetise their unused space.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words.
My primary focus is on the growth side of Stashbee – notably guest sales, host onboarding, operations and marketing – thanks to my previous experience. However, in a start-up you get involved in all aspects of the business, and I see helping to foster a brilliant company culture as a big part of my role. Having worked in many companies, both my co-founder Anthony Paine and I have built a strong sense of what great company culture looks like, and how it can benefit both the team and customers, so we’re passionate about dedicating time to getting it spot on at Stashbee.
Give a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start; how did you move on?
From a young age I knew I wanted to start my own business. When I was 18, I set up an urban clothing company with a friend which I eventually sold. This gave me a taste of being an entrepreneur but like many, I decided to go to University. After graduating, I spent 8 years working in management consultancy for FTSE 100 companies. Although this equipped me with great experience, I still yearned for my own company. Which is why I booked myself onto an entrepreneurs evening course and armed with savings, an idea I was passionate about, and a likeminded friend, decided to set out on the start-up journey.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
Passion, emotional intelligence, and the ability to motivate others are all crucial. A good leader should understand that they must not lead by force, but instead inspire people to follow their example in pulling together towards a common goal, while simultaneously showing dedication to helping employees achieve their personal goals. This will create a happy team, capable of achieving great things nobody else believed were possible.
What has been the biggest challenge in your current position?
Starting your own business is all consuming. You think about it in the shower, when talking to friends, even in your sleep. There’s rarely a time you’re not thinking about it, so weekends and holidays no longer have quite the same meaning, and that’s challenging. Balance is a skill you must develop, otherwise it’s extremely easy to burn out. It’s important to remember that you are running an ultra-marathon not a 100m sprint!
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
I focus on my wellbeing by eating healthy food, getting regular exercise, following a regular sleep pattern, and making time to talk with friends and family. It also helps that I have an amazing co-founder and team around me who share the weight of starting up a high growth business.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I only ever wanted to do two things as a child. The first was to be an astronaut and the second was to create something that would help people. Once I realised that I wasn’t Neil Armstrong, I set my heart on launching my own business. I have been dreaming of having a company like Stashbee since I was 12 years old. It took me 20 years, but I’ve finally realised my dream.
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
The words “That’s not my responsibility”. No matter the size of a business, you need to have people who are willing to step up to the plate to deliver great things. We have a culture where everyone has the common goal to grow and scale Stashbee; we share the responsibility of getting there together.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
Our vision is to see Stashbee become the number one, global platform for all types of storage space, whilst providing an unrivalled customer experience.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Find something you’re passionate about. I spent years working for companies I didn’t love, doing things that didn’t inspire me. Now, I wake up excited for the day ahead, no matter what challenges it may bring, because I am doing something I love and have an amazing handpicked team around me. If you follow your dreams, then in one form or another, success will always follow. And remember, it’s not just about the end goal it’s also about enjoying the journey.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
Get off the sofa and give it a go. It will be hard work, stressful and you may struggle, but you will learn along the way. The risk of not doing something is far greater than the risk of starting.
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