My name: Kate Wilson
Job title: Managing Director
Company name: Nosy Crow
Company description: Nosy Crow is a new, independent children’s publishing company, publishing child-focused, parent-friendly children’s books and apps for children aged 0 to 14.
Location: Southwark, London
I’m an English Literature graduate with a love of books. I started in publishing as a secretary and over 20-odd years worked my way up the career ladder. I ran children’s publishing divisions of big publishing companies that published books like The Gruffalo and Horrible Histories.
2. Tell us how you started your business particularly how you planned and funded it?
After 15 years in two different senior jobs, I made a mistake: I went to a job and company to which I wasn’t suited and we parted ways after just a few months. I thought hard about what I wanted to do, and decided that I wanted to be my own boss and to get back to the bits of publishing (making and selling books) that I really enjoyed. I thought I had skills and contacts that I could use and develop. My husband – also a publisher by background – and I started to apply the same kind of financial and strategic planning to our prospective business that we had to businesses we’d run in a corporate environment. We wrote a 3-year plan with a detailed P+L and cash-flow and worked out how much money we needed. It was more than the savings we had available to invest. One of the people I’d approached to work with me in the company said she wanted to invest. And then we found two angel investors, who trusted my publishing track-record and vision for the company enough to put their money into it.
3. How long have you been in business?
Hardly any time at all! We announced the existence of the company on 22 February 2010… But we didn’t have any books to publish then. We published our first book, Small Blue Thing (a romantic fantasy a bit like Twilight but more innocent, set in London and with ghosts, not Vampires and memories, not blood) in January 2011 and our first interactive multimedia storybook app, The Three Little Pigs in February 2011. That’s actually pretty quick for a publishing company!
4. Did you know how you were going to make money with it? How did you do it?
We’re so young that we’re reinvesting all we make back into the company to generate future growth, but we turned over 1 million pounds in our first year of trading. How did we do it? We worked really, really hard! And we drew on every bit of skill and experience and judgement that we’d gained or learned or developed in every previous job we’d done.
5. What was your inspiration?
I really do believe in the importance of children reading. I think that literacy has the power to transform lives. Children who read for pleasure perform better academically, interact better socially and have more vivid imaginations. Of course I am running a business, and we need to make money, but I couldn’t work the way I work unless it was on something I felt really passionate about.
6. What was your highest moment?
Well, it was amazing to win Mumpreneur‘s Inspiring Business Mum of the Year in 2011! And we’ve won awards for our apps: in January 2012, I went to Las Vegas and New York to pick up awards for Cinderella. It’s great to have the really innovative work we’re doing on story book apps recognised.
7. Were you ever scared? How did you overcome it?
If I stopped to think about it. I could be scared every day about everything from our books and apps flopping to our office being burgled (we have four locks on two doors and an alarm, but still…). Luckily, there’s too much else to think about to have time to be scared.
8. What’s the best part of what you do now?
Two things: first, I love books, stories, words and illustration, and I am much closer to the detail of those things than I have been for years. And second, I really like being my own boss.
9. What is the most important lesson you learned along the way?
It’s probably too early to say! I have a lot to learn. But here’s something: if you’re your own boss, it’s particularly important that you have strong people who can present a different point of view.
10. What piece of advice do you have for business owners out there?
Do your financial planning carefully and conservatively. Be as nice (decent, kind, respectful, honest) as you can possibly be to everyone you deal with. And always check the loos work properly before you sign an office lease.
To find out more about Kate’s books and apps, visit www.nosycrow.com.
Picture courtesy of Nosy Crow.