You never know when inspiration is going to strike. In the latest of our series of interviews with entrepreneurs, we speak with Christian Sellars, the co-founder of Little Futures. Christian saw a gap in the market when he noticed the amount of waste that was occurring in the gifting industry. Take a read, get inspired!
Tell us a little bit about your business in your own words…
Little Futures is an easy-to-use digital platform that allows parents to create personalised and fun invitations to their children’s events, whilst giving them the opportunity to request environmentally friendly gift alternatives.
Our mission is to cut down on waste and focus on the things that really matter. Therefore, parents can encourage friends and family to invest in more meaningful and sustainable alternatives to unwanted, wasteful, (and often plastic) gifts that end up in landfill and cause damage to our planet. For example, through our cleverly worded templates, parents and their children can suggest; a chosen experience, lessons, group gifts, financial savings such as Junior ISA’s or just leave the gifting option blank. The party holder can then also choose to donate a percentage of the funds they receive to a charity if they wish.
Was there a ‘lightbulb moment’? How and when did the idea for the business come to you?
When my distinctly veracious big sister said, “well that’s going straight to the re-gift cupboard!”
It was my niece’s 3rd birthday party. I wanted to give money towards her future savings and to go towards the ballet lessons I knew she would love. However, I ended up doing what everyone else had done and grabbed a plastic doll on the way.
I listened to my sister complain that at every birthday they were bombarded with piles of plastic toys that they couldn’t escape. Then there were the comments around children being more interested in the box the toys come in!
For a start I should have thought, as a family we’ve always been eco-aware and therefore my sister has always been keen to pass on her good values to her children. I also knew what my ballerina obsessed niece really wanted. There had to be a better way so that my niece could get something she’d actually use, and I could give her something with the satisfaction of knowing my contribution could actually benefit her future.
As a father myself now I completely understand where my sister was coming from that day, and I know we can make big changes with a few changes in perceptions of gifting. I’m certainly happy that this platform exists for my family.
Were there any big ‘pain points’ when you were starting up the business?
Building a platform for a new concept was initially tough. Then you throw in building the platform with a budget in mind inevitably it does become a struggle. Especially when, like me, the ideas start bubbling and you’re forever wanting to expand on new options and products.
And the highest point so far?
Seeing the very first, forward-thinking parents using the platform and having the reassurance that this really was what many parents were looking for was a huge high. Every time someone uses our platform I still get a real buzz. This is perhaps never more than when a parent and child choose to donate to a charity. Knowing that money could have been wasted on environmentally unfriendly gifts, something that never got used or appreciated is so gratifying.
Has there been any low points, and how did you overcome them?
Launching as COVID-19 struck! We had to adapt quickly and launch virtual party options or the whole business wouldn’t have worked. Like everyone else, we didn’t see the problems that would arise and after multiple lockdowns and it felt at times like ‘what’s the point?!’. However, we have persevered and managed to develop a new product that improves our offering which is very relevant both now and after the pandemic lockdowns are over.
Did you get any support along the way when setting up the business – or was there anything that you found useful when you needed help?
From the initial idea and concept through to where we are now, I can honestly say that everyone we have spoken to, or presented Little Futures to, has shown genuine enthusiasm, made us feel like we have a great idea and something people would use.
Support from friends and family has been invaluable. My sisters are both entrepreneurial and own the fastest growing bridesmaid dress business in the UK, so receiving advice and contacts from them has been so helpful.
Finally, Little Futures has three founding members who all really believe in the concept. This has been so useful in bringing different expertise, pulling resources and driving momentum. Rather than me being a ‘one man band’ on a mission.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of starting up a business?
Try to avoid a pandemic….and if you can’t then keep believing in what you’ve set out to do and don’t be afraid to ask for help. We’ve spoken to so many mums and dads and asked for their perspectives and honest feedback during this time, which has moulded the company into what it is now. There is always going to be ‘ups’ and ‘downs’, however, try and take as much as you can from the positives whilst learning as much as you can from the negatives.
Are there any plans in the future to develop Little Futures further?
Absolutely, we are currently working on developing the range of children’s party invitations, creating more designs and making the gifting options even better. We have also got a new product we are launching soon. It will allow friends and family to easily give cash gifts to the child at any time of the year, whether it be for Birthday, Christmas, Hanukkah etc. It will be a more thoughtful and exciting way to give money. Keep an eye out on our social media for updates!
Thank you to Christian for sharing his business experience with us! For more information visit Little Futures here: https://www.littlefutures.org/
Keep up to date with Little Futures on social media:
- Follow Little Futures on Facebook: @littlefuturesltd
- Follow Little Futures on Twitter: @Little_futures
- Follow Little Futures on Instagram: @littlefuturesinvites
Has Christian’s Startup Story inspired you to delve into the world of business? We helped register Little Futures, maybe your business is next! Find out more about limited company registration – starting from £12.99 – now!