Case Study: Cornerstone, Oliver Bridge

A step up story

It was a kind offer from a friend that finally helped entrepreneur Oliver Bridge to move his shaving start-up, Cornerstone, out of his kitchen.

14th November 2017

Founder: Oliver Bridge

“I had a friend who ran a recruitment office based in Regent Street and he offered the use of a desk for free to enable me to get out of the home,” explains Oliver. “It was so positive to return to having daily social contact – working alone from home can be quite lonely, and the early stages of seeking customers were sometimes demoralising.”

Taking the desk helped the young entrepreneur banish the “cabin fever” often associated with working from home but it also allowed him to expand his business – hiring his first employee. “I hired someone to help with marketing and customer service, once I expanded the team I didn’t think it was practical or appropriate to continue working from home so I began to pay for two desks at the recruitment office. Within three to four months I had grown the business to five employees and haven’t looked back since.”

Over three years later – Cornerstone now employs 28 people and still operates out of a shared o ice. This strategy
is something Oliver recommends to other small, scaling businesses. “We’ve probably been in 10 different offices,” he says. “Every time we grew the team by two or more people, we found that we had to move o ices again. We’ve always wanted an economical space and we were unwilling to take a large space where we would be paying for empty seats.”

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Calculated caution has run through much of Cornerstone’s story to date. Oliver had the idea while standing in Boots looking at razors. Having always had sensitive skin, he struggled to find the right product, so he decided to create his own subscription service for shaving, specialising in precision products. But rather than quitting his job immediately, he worked on the business before and after work for 18-months before taking the plunge. “Trying to fit it in around a demanding full-time job was difficult,” he explains. “I would frequently pitch to potential investors in my lunch break and I taught myself to code in the evening so I could build the website.”

His hard work paid off and Oliver had secured £150,000 in seed capital by the time he handed in his notice. “Many entrepreneurs leave immediately after hitting upon their business idea,” he says. “I felt more comfortable being careful initially and ensured I was secure before quitting.”

Five years after launch and Cornerstone is going from strength to strength. The subscription model now has 145,000 customers and the business has raised £8 million in total. “Bearing in mind we started out with only £10,000 of my life savings and a loan of £5,000, it’s an amazing place to be.”

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