At 24, Jess Saumarez is the co-founder of LUX Rewards, a free-to-download app that connects diners with high-quality restaurants and bars in Bristol, Bath and London. Users earn up to 7.5 per cent of the total bill back in points that can then be redeemed for rewards such as spa days, meals and getaways.
How did you start out in business?
I met James Courtney, co-founder of LUX Rewards, when we were both studying management degrees at The University of Bath.
When I left university, I decided to gain some experience working in other startups and then do some travelling (I had to get it out of my system). I then came straight into LUX Rewards while we were on the Just Eat accelerator program.
If you knew then what you know now, what mistakes might you have avoided?
Being in a startup is stressful and I have most definitely felt the physical impact of it, closely avoiding a burnout on several occasions. The mistake I made was not relaxing enough and taking some time for myself when the stress got too much.
What advice would you have given yourself when starting out?
Be honest when you don’t know what you’re doing. As a young woman in business, I was acutely aware of coming across as credible and therefore wanted to be able to answer all questions perfectly. But as soon as I started to reach out for help from others, I realised that it’s a strength to ask for help and does not impact your credibility at all.
If you knew then what you know now, would you still be sitting there?
Absolutely! Obviously, the business would be more advanced (because business is all about testing assumptions and pivoting) but I would not be in any other company. Maybe I would have a more expensive desk chair if I knew then what I know now.
What do you know now that you didn’t know then?
That I am a fully capable businesswoman who can do whatever I put my mind to.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received so far?
To take the time to read people before speaking. This includes networking events, sales and client meetings. Some people want to have a chat and build a rapport before talking about business and others just want to get straight to it.
What is your business highlight?
Our Bristol launch party in September last year. We hosted 100 people in the Averys cellars and I was juggling the event planning, catering for the event myself and redesigning our new product – all while keeping the company running along. When the event was over I think I slept for about three days straight.
What is your business low point?
Being mistaken for a waitress at a networking event in London.
What keeps you awake?
All of the exciting ideas and plans I have for the future of LUX Rewards. That, and going through my presentation that I will give to 300 people the next day.
What’s changed from when you started out?
The business is constantly evolving and going from strength to strength, including the cities we are in and the design of the app. I have also grown as a person in both confidence and knowledge through drawing on support from other business owners and mentors.
What’s still on your to-do list?
The question is, what’s not on my to-do list?!
What’s next for you in business and personally?
Next step is for LUX to spread more across London and then start to go live in other cities across the UK. For me personally, it will be to welcome talented individuals into the LUX team who are capable of making LUX a success.
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