Interview with Graduate Entrepreneur and Founder of 'theCADcube' Darren Lester
Darren Lester is a recent graduate and the Founder of 'theCADcube'. Darren's inspiration to start a business sprung from his frustration of the current job market, something which many of us can relate to. Darren is from Northern Ireland originally, but came to Edinburgh in 2005 to study Architectural Technology at Edinburgh Napier University, graduating in 2009. Lets see what Darren has to say about being a Graduate Entrepreneur.
1) What inspired you to start your own business?
I had the idea for theCADcube whilst studying, i thought it was a good idea but never really thought it could become a reality. It was probably sheer frustration with the job market that inspired me to actually do something about it. I have always been very creative, so the concept of creating something from scratch is an aspect of business that really appealed to me.
2) Tell us a bit about theCADcube?
theCADcube aims to address two issues within the Architecture & Design sector. Firstly, 3D computer modelling is extremely time consuming for Architects and Interior Designers and product manufacturers are not doing enough to make their products accessible to these decision makers.
Our website will provide Architects and Interior Designers with an essential online efficiency tool based around the principals of ‘Search.Share.Download.’ Registered users will be able to:
- Search the latest furniture, lighting and design products by type, category, location or manufacturer.
- Share products back and forth between colleagues and clients using CADspace™
- Download the 3D CAD models of each product in various formats and incorporate them into your designs.
The website will also allow manufacturers of furniture, lighting and other design products to create a company profile and market their products, using 3D CAD models, directly to a community of professional designers.
3) What steps did you take, when you realised this could be a viable business opportunity?
I drew up a business plan and entered it into a University business competition and did quite well. This gave me the confidence, that allowed me to believe that it wasn’t just me who thought this was a good idea. I then did lots of market research, contacting architects, interior designers and product manufacturers and approached the PSYBT, who provide advice to start-ups, and they helped me to develop the idea and the business plan in order to secure funding.
4) What has been your biggest struggle and success till date?
My biggest success to date would be, successfully securing funding from the PSYBT and the Technology Strategy Board. This has allowed me to really get things going and get the website developed.
My biggest struggle would probably be self doubt. No matter who you are or what you do, I think when you decide to set up your own business you will face a struggle to keep believing in your ideas, and your decisions when things get difficult, which they will!
5) If there was one thing, you really lacked and wanted support with, what would it be?
Nothing I can think of. I’ve had fantastic support from the PSYBT, friends and family.
6) Did being at university help you with pursuing a business?
For me it probably did, as my business idea came from my own experiences as an Architectural Technology student. We spent endless hours designing a building and creating a 3D computer model of it. After all this we then had to present it which meant making it look as realistic as possible. This required us to go through each individual room and create bits of furniture and lighting which was all very time consuming.
7) What tips do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
If you have got a good idea, go for it. Don’t let your business inexperience hold you back. There is lots of advice and guides out there, so take in as much as you can. I think a good idea will always come good in the end. Also, enter competitions when you can. They can be a great way to raise funding and promote your business or idea.
8) What’s next?
The launch of the website in the New Year! We’re very excited about the features we are building and we think they will make theCADcube a must for design professionals and manufacturers.
We are also always building our library of manufacturers and products in anticipation of the launch, so any one out there who is interested just get in touch.