Posted on May 9, 2011

Dadpreneur Feature – Nathan

Nathan the founder of Timto is featured here at Mummy Loves today! I know I only usually feature Mums but thought it was about time we had a few Dads around the place to!
Who are you?

Nathan Cornish aged 39,I live in Cardiff with my wife Suzy (37) and our two daughters Megan (9) & Darcey (6).

What do you do?

I founded with my brother, Luke. Previously I had been in the retail banking sector 16 years. For years I had dreamt about running my own business, relying on my own decisions until finally the ‘idea’ dawned on me.

It was when I was leaving my daughter’s 6th birthday party and I was trying to put three bin liners full of presents into the boot of the car. I could not believe how generous all the guests had been, but a few weeks later I reflected on many of the gifts were still being used. We first asked friends for their thoughts,and then conducted a lot of market research (over 1500 parents).
The consensus was that at least 20% (some said 50%) of the presents received at children parties are never used and/or quickly broke. That equates to expenditure of more than £200m p.a. of ‘wasted’ in the UK alone. The challenge was for us to find a way to enhance the birthday child’s celebration and to do it in manner that honours the traditions of a child’s gift.

The service – ‘there is more to … birthdays’
There is more to timto than just a children’s gift service. The first of its kind in the world, the service allows children to create a gift list of their ideal birthday presents, while simultaneously encouraging them to support a charity that they identify with.

timto is derived from the phrase ‘there is more to’

When did you establish your business?

We launched our online business in May 2010 focusing on Cardiff, South Wales and Bristol and now we are looking to raise our profile and expand across the UK. Currently we are looking to build links with regional charities to complement our existing relationships.
We are also a whole new type of service this summer for parents/ teachers called thank your teacher, which should be really exciting

What made you start your own business?
I had reached a cross roads in my corporate life and felt that if I took the next step I would remain there for their rest of my career (I was on a future senior leaders programme). If ever I was going to run my own business it had to be now. Circumstances began to converge, for example,my brother returned home from working in Milan and we talked about the idea at length. We decided to be bold and took the biggest decision of our lives. I resigned, much to the shock of my employers, my colleagues thought I was having a “Jerry Maguire” moment.

What do you love about working for yourself?

I don’t think it gets any more exciting that developing an idea that emanated from discussion around a family dinner table into a business that has the potential to make a significant difference.We hope to make it the ‘norm’ for individuals to make a charitable donation when they themselves have an occasion to celebrate.

I also enjoy the fear of the unknown. At any time on any day either a potential hazard occurs or something amazing will happen or even both. An example of this was when I received an email out of the blue to be invited to the Cabinet office at Admiralty Arch to discuss our concept in relation to the Giving Green paper. The following day I was conducting survey research in a noisy children’s play centre for 8 hours (a very, very long day)

Then you have all the great people that we meet at the charities we work with, I remember a fun run last summer for the Acorns Hospice & watching the joy in the faces of these amazing children running what to them seemed like a marathon.
Another exciting time was when the NSPCC gave us their response to timto, “We [NSPCC] are excited about our involvement with timto, which is a brilliant concept that brings a new approach to fundraising. It is beneficial to both charities and children alike and it is fantastic that from a young age children are encouraged to think about the importance of giving as well as receiving. We look forward to working with timto over the coming months to get this revolutionary project off the ground.”

On a family level
• My children love getting involved and they quite often ‘proof’ read our literature, “advising” on our colour schemes, and appearing in PR photos etc. My wife Suzy is planning to join the business
• For me it means I have better control better control over when I work. I try to make sure I read a bedtime story to my daughters most nights & I also make sure that I take them to school once a week

• And of course working everyday with my brother is great fun – we’ve even been known to ring our mum&dad if we need to settle an argument!

Is there anything you do not like about working for yourself?

Without question it is the security of income. The family discussed long and hard the potential consequences of my resignation and the impact on our lifestyle over the short to medium term. We are working to a 3 year plan and life is different. Christmas was modest and there will not be any holidays for a while.

Is there anything you would go back and do differently if you could?
I have learnt so much. I believe that you learn the most when you try do something yourself. However, I also think that entrepreneurs need to be honest with them-selves, and recognise what they are good at and identify what areas of weakness. You learn that it is actually a sign of strength to ask for support, not a sign of weakness – this took me a little time to grasp!

What advice would you give to someone considering starting their own business?
Build on your idea and thoroughly research it, plan&cost it out and include a contingency fund. But when you make the decision, make it 100% and do so without regret; then back yourself to be the best you can be. I believe that it’s better to try to do something special rather to spend your life wondering.

Building a network of great mentors and people you trust is essential to bounce ideas off and gain a bit of perspective – always be open to new ideas.
I also think twitter is amazing place – it is obviously a huge source of contacts &information. Take care not to spend too much time on it though as it can encroach. P.s. I’m not sure that there are 6 degrees of separation between people in the world anymore – I think it’s closer to 4!

You Might Also Like

1 Comment

  • Reply Michelloui | The American Resident May 10, 2011 at 11:06 am

    I have to say that Timto is an awesome idea! I have just bookmarked the site and I will be telling my friends about it.

    Good idea to feature this!

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Back to top