Being keen, green and new to the industry

FOCUS - A supplier’s perspective

Being keen, green and new to the industry

Emily Webb, Managing Director of Oarsome Grips, shares her early memories about joining the industry as a budding entrepreneur with a new product and no experience.

The norm when you join a new industry is usually a new job representing a company, generally within a more experienced team. Your team is able to show you the ropes, you learn about your customers and suppliers, the landscape and the future trends and issues. But how do you join an industry from the outside and totally alone?

I burst into our industry with my Oarsome Grips by attending a physio conference many years ago. At the time my friend Di came with me on the day. Neither one of us was part of the industry I was joining.

As a young entrepreneur who had never had a ‘typical job’, I had no relevant previous experience to draw from. So, rather green around the ears and a little shy, I mirrored Di who was, and remains, one of the most wonderful and friendly people I know. While Di was taking care of the stand, chatting to the physios about the Oarsome Grips and my time on Dragons’ Den, I immersed myself in the exhibition, getting to know my new industry.

It was the perfect place to start, as everyone was ready to chat, share information and promote themselves –all I had to do was approach, ask questions and listen. As a young woman, I tended to approach women who had friendly and open faces. I’d ask about themselves, their company and their products; listening carefully to understand. Naturally, the conversation would then turn to me and I’d tell them my story and invite them to my stand.

My story is an unusual one which tends to get people’s attention and this was invaluable in capturing people’s curiosity. I’d often then be introduced to someone else they knew – and my conversations grew from there. I spent my time listening and asking questions to understand the landscape and listening out for the names of the companies I should approach, and then doing just that.

At the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey, not long out of university, I sometimes found myself in conversations that made me feel uneasy. In hindsight, a lot of this uneasiness came from my lack of experience, especially with the more formal and corporate conversations which would often involve more in-depth, probing questions. These kinds of conversations are now far more common, but at the beginning, they can seem difficult and daunting. My advice would be to listen to your instincts but also remain conscious that limited experience could be skewing your perception of the situation. Be confident and learn from the experience.

I used snippets of conversations with the many people to help form my overall picture of the industry that I now comfortably operate in. I enjoy and feel privileged being part of a community where we are in the business of improving people’s lives every day.

For anyone new joining our industry, as an employee or an entrepreneur, my absolute key tip would be to ask plenty of questions and listen closely to the answers. We all know knowledge is power, and if you’re new round here, that’s something you won’t have much of. Be respectful of the industry insiders giving you their time by listening carefully. They’re sharing their power if you listen close enough…


Emily Webb, an award-winning entrepreneur, consultant and designer, is the Managing Director of Oarsome Grips. To find out more about the company, visit www.oarsomegrips.com and to find out more about Emily, visit www.emily-webb.com