‘There are times you would love if there was a grown-up in the room’
Inside Track: Glencove chief executive Kate Hyde
Kate Hyde, chief executive of events management business Glencove: “Trust your gut.” Photograph: Cathal Noonan
Kate Hyde, chief executive of Glencove, started her small events business in 2008 in her spare room. Now operating across Britain and Ireland, it has graduated to Dragons’ Den investment, added to its portfolio of brands, which includes henparty.ie, and has grown to a reach of 40,000 customers last year.
What distinguishes your business from your competitors?
We’ve great relationships with our customers and with our suppliers. We put costumer focus above anything else and that’s what sets us apart from our competitors, particularly in a digital age. We have huge technology but what we also have is that customer service and relationship.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in business?
I’ve had two. The first being the change of pace in technology – to adapt to that. When I started, 10 years ago, the internet was only really getting going, it was a very different playing field.
The second was buying out my fellow shareholders in 2015, that’s something I’d never done before. Buying out Gavin [Duffy] and Niall [O’Farrell] was a very big moment in the company for me. There’s no training for something like that, it’s just something you learn on the life journey of the business.
What has been your major success to date?
The growth of the company. When I started the business, it was very much one of those ‘don’t do it’ kind of stories. I started in my spare bedroom in Waterford, I had no budget, I just had this crazy, harebrained idea and a lot of drive. I’m just glad I kept going, that I still keep going, that I found somewhere to harness my ambition and drive.
What more could the Government do to help SMEs?
I think that there should be more tax breaks available for people who set up their own companies. I also feel passionately that parental leave for fathers would go a long way in terms of enabling women to become entrepreneurial. I mentor for LEO in Cork and one of the biggest obstacles I see is women are so time poor having families and also trying to start their businesses.
Do you think the banks are open for business?
Yes, I do, I have a good relationship with the banks, as has everyone I’ve spoken to. I haven’t heard out there that there’s a problem. I think that things have changed a lot in the last couple of years. I think there’s a lot of support there for SMEs and I’m seeing it in start-ups around the place that I’m talking to.
What is the biggest mistake you’ve made in business?
There are times as a business owner it can be very lonely and you can often be trusting your gut. But there are times you would just love if the answer were clearer or if there was a grown-up in the room. I think at times where I have gone in pursuit of a grown-up in the room, I’ve engaged in bad advice and that was at times a very painful lesson for me where I either lost financially or I lost in terms of listening to someone who didn’t understand my business or didn’t have my businesses best interests at heart. I like to try and learn from stuff and unfortunately sometimes you have to get burned to know not to put your hands back in the fire.
Whom do you admire in business and why?
It’s people on the ground that I’ve met over the years who have just got unbelievable business portfolios and we don’t even know they exist. Then again, that’s the challenge of living in a small country in that we don’t have a huge pool here to follow, so getting off the island helps a lot.
What’s the best piece of business advice that you’ve ever received?
Trust your gut, I was told that from a very early age from my dad, who was always in business himself. That sort of split moment where you have to go with something or not go with something, relying on your gut and knowing yourself and your vision for you business, that’s never failed me.
How do you see the short-term future of your business?
Business as usual. We’ve also gone into corporate events now and baby showers, they are growing our portfolio in this country. They launched last year so we are selling those new products.
What’s your business worth and would you sell it?
I actually don’t know what my business is worth. We are in a multimillion-euro turnover range, so I would imagine it’s worth a bit now at this stage but I’m not interested in selling it because I’m not finished yet. My medium- and long-term plans are not realised yet.