Sean Hawie

Primrose Hill Entrepreneurs is a regular feature. This month Peter Savic talks to Sean Hawie about his latest venture and how you need to make opportunities.

Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?

The first boss I ever had allowed me to do things my way, and when I made a mistake she knew how to make sure I wasn’t discouraged by failure. That set a standard for me with regard to creativity and responsibility. I learned a lot very quickly, and since then struggled to find a role that wholly satisfied me. So I suppose that it all comes from a desire to really enjoy what I do. I want to be fulfilled, and not just live a 9‒5 life where you wait for Fridays and dread Mondays.

What do you love about Primrose Hill?

I’ve grown up in the area most of my life. My parents used to take my sister and me to Lemonia when we were kids, and it’s still exactly the same. There’s a strong independent spirit on the high street also, thanks to the community committee who work hard to keep it that way. My perfect evening would probably be dinner at Oka then drinks in one of the pubs.

What are you currently working on?

My latest venture, Oculizm, is an online platform that allows retailers to use social media content in their own advertising and eCommerce channels. It started out as a way for fashion brands to create ‘shop the look’ galleries on their websites, matching outfits worn by their fans to actual in-store products. We didn’t appreciate at the time that the concept could be rolled out to food retailers, children’s toys and more. So it’s a pretty exciting time for us right now.

I want to be fulfilled, and not just live a 9‒5 life where you wait for Fridays and dread Mondays.

How did you get funded?

I’ve always been terrible at asking people for money. I focused on product and instead used my network if I needed help building a pitch or a slide deck. With Oculizm, I knew I’d developed something of value, and I knew who my customers would be. So I started contacting fashion retailers directly. I was pitching to Nobody’s Child, a fast fashion brand, unaware that the owner was an investor in early-stage fashion tech businesses, so it went from there. That kind of opportunity doesn’t come unless you get out there and knock on a lot of doors.

Any advice for anyone thinking about becoming an entrepreneur?

Go for it. If you can’t wait for the week to end, or you dream about doing your own thing one day, or if you’re not quite sure if your venture will work, you owe it to yourself at least to try. Just make sure you give it your absolute best shot.

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