“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending”
Hi, my name’s Tom but everyone calls me Doyle. I’m the office Welsh boy. The mascot. The ops dude and the ‘guy that turns a whiteboard list into reality’.
Let’s take this cassette back a bit, back to itchy shorts and knee high socks. School seems so far away these days, and yet it’s funny how it all comes flooding back to you when you start to think about it. I have always been a creative and expressive guy, ever since I could hold a pencil. I was great at art, loved acting and took up music from an early age, playing the Violin and Piano, but I was also pretty hot at some of the more academic subjects too. Maths and English were both strong points. I have always had the rare gift of being OK at most things I put my hands to, to be honest, although I certainly had my weaknesses, such as Geography – I’ve been known to get lost in a porter-loo and I once thought The equator was a WWF Wrestler. I remember it being a talking point at parents evening, with teachers describing me as things such as ‘adaptable’ and ‘an all-rounder’ with ‘so much potential’, which apparently is quite rare. I have an ‘arty-farty brain’ (My nan, 1995), but also a very logical one.
This did me justice throughout my time at school and then later in university, where I studied Fine Art and Art History at Aberystwyth. Where’s that I hear you ask? I couldn’t tell you – I’m bad at Geography remember. My time here was well spent for the most part and I got the degree I was after – It was now time to shave and branch out into the world of full-time work to build a career for myself. And what better place to do this than in Bristol, my favourite place in the UK.
Oh wait, it just so happens to be 2008 and the dreaded recession is in full swing – ‘Good luck Class of 2008. You’re going to need it’ – The parting words at my Graduation Ceremony were not wrong. What’s another year or so eh…
So how did I end up at The Cake Mix over ten years later?
How did I find the right ingredients along the way?
So… Five years and a fair few night shifts and Jagerbombs later, and I’m now intent on leaving the hospitality career path that I’ve landed myself in, working as a meetings and events supervisor for a fancy Hotel. I had spent years now overseeing anything from weddings and awards ceremonies to early morning meetings and business networking events. The hours are long and very anti-social in the industry and I was ready for some routine. 9-5 here I come! This was my first experience of working closely alongside small businesses and certainly gave me a platform from which I would find my next job, working as a Manager for a co-working space. It would mean leaving Bristol, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. This would not be forever.
And so began my 3 year stint in London, overseeing a really creative office space for start-ups and SME’s in Brixton. This was where I belonged, working alongside small businesses, learning the ropes. I was in my element, able to keep both sides of my brain happy. I was absorbing information left, right and centre, learning off of all the business owners and entrepreneurs around me whilst also keeping my creative side happy. These companies consisted of all sorts; Marketers, Graphic designers, photographers, writers and directors and not only was I dealing with the full 360° cycle of running a serviced office space, but I was helping these businesses run smoothly too, whether it be helping with Marketing campaigns, creating content or helping with background processes.
Throughout this time, I learnt a great deal. It was through running co-working spaces and having my hands in many creative pies that I gained an invaluable insight into the start-up world, allowing me to broaden my skill set and teaching me how to adapt my approach to my work depending on the company and what is needed from me.
After a few years in the hustle and bustle of London, it was time to return to Brizzle, to ‘see about a girl’ (Classic line from Good Will Hunting). With my new-found insights into the start-up world and passion for helping small businesses, it was easy to slip my feet back under a desk in the SME space and I found work as a serviced office Manager for more corporate companies this time. This was to open my eyes up even further to the inner workings of business and teach me a great deal about running a successful business in this day and age. Bristol is rapidly becoming one of the most established hubs for small businesses in the country and so It didn’t take me long for me to figure out that I was here for the long-haul.
Jump two years down the line, including a casual 6 months spent backpacking South East Asia, and I was ready to take the next step on my ‘start-up journey’. Life is really interesting sometimes and I believe the path is never pre-determined. There are too many options at every turn. I am incredibly thankful for this as every random branch has led me to where I am today. It was at this time that I just so happened to bump into some old friends from my hospitality days, in a pub as you do. They were Ed and Ben, now essential members of The Cake Mix alongside me. It had been years since we had caught up but there’s a lot to catch up on. They had found themselves working closely together for a cryptocurrency backed tech start-up called Acorn, focusing on making crowdfunding more accessible globally and helping to increase success rates of projects across the board. Perfect! Helping start-ups to succeed. Sign me up. This was to become my next big break in the start-up world and after ploughing them with drinks I was offered to join their team. I eagerly accepted.
I specialized in many areas during my time with Acorn, including client relations, where I liaised with small business founders to help them plan their crowdfunding campaigns and also formed partnerships with global accelerators and incubators. I also coordinated and attended multiple International Events, including Dubai, Mumbai and Nairobi and worked in sales and marketing. I learned a lot working for Acorn but most importantly, I built on my knowledge of what is involved in building a company and scaling up, as well as running one.
It was whilst working for this whirlwind start-up that a group of us, each with complementary skill sets, formed a close bond. My mates Ed (CEO or Chief Doughnut) and Ben (Head of Growth) as mentioned before, Ed 2 (Co-founder and content guy), Jan (Data Nerd), Jamie (Graphics Guru) and myself (Office Mascot and Head of ops) would soon all go on to form The Cake Mix together in 2019. The Cake mix is a startup focused consulting agency. What a team and what a year!
I’ve spent years helping small businesses and I am now a partner of one myself – And the best thing; it’s a start-up helping start-ups. What a dream.
All of us here at The Cake Mix are passionate about helping small businesses grow. We don’t just help you with your marketing. Come to us with a problem, and we’ll help you solve it by putting our heads together. We will help you strategize, build out your business stack, build awareness and sell more stuff at the end of the day. Let us help you.
So, what’s on the horizon?
I’m no palm reader, but I see good things on the horizon with The Cake Mix. We have only gone from strength to strength over the last 18 months or so, and that’s with that beast ‘covid’ on the loose too.
You’ll have to stay tuned.
Learn. Stay hungry. Stay engaged. Choose your own path.