A Day in the Life of a NEF Fellow – Daniel Gillespie


Name: Daniel Gillespie

NEF class of: 2013

Currently working on: Birdie List

An interesting, non-business related fact:
Unbeaten Thai Boxer, 4 fights, 4 wins.

Tell us a bit about what you’ve been up to since leaving the NEF programme in 2013?
After the finish of the 2013 programme, I soon left my host company to pursue my own business ambitions.

I am working full time on my StartUp Birdie List with fellow NEF’er Sam Lott. I have also taken on a role teaching people how to code at General Assembly and co-founded a social enterprise, Go Getters, with the aim of fostering and promoting entrepreneurship in Sub-Saharan Africa.

What is Birdie List?
It is an online gift registry allowing couples that are getting married to easily and tastefully collect cash gifts for their wedding day. Think of it as a Kickstarter for weddings, so instead of receiving toasters and cutlery sets, couples can fund their dream honeymoon or even a contribution to their mortgage.

What was the inspiration behind it?
One of my cousins got married earlier this year, and I took this as an opportunity to interview her on some of the pain points around the wedding process. At the time I was actually pursuing another tech venture in the wedding space, but her suggestion of being able to take control over her gifts and receive “money over toasters” immediately switched on a light bulb and my mind wandered to creating a quasi Kickstarter / JustGiving platform that would solve her problem.

How’s it going at the moment? / What position is the business currently in?
We launched the beta version of our product a few weeks ago and are signing up our first test couples to use the platform. We are also approaching a stage where we may look to secure a round of seed investment.

What’s next?
Acquiring customers and testing both our initial assumptions about the market and the robustness of the platform. If you know of anyone getting married, please do get in touch, we would love to speak to them! – hello@bidielist.com

How did your time with NEF help prepare you for what you’re doing now?
My time on NEF was the perfect combination of technical and business education. The technologies and methodologies I used working as a developer at my host company gave me the foundation with which to build the Birdie List platform, and the NEF network continues to provide valuable opportunities and support.

Some people argue that running your own company at a young age is a step too far – do you think it’s a disadvantage or an advantage to start business at a young age, and why?
Undoubtedly you could argue pros and cons for both scenarios, but for myself, I feel I can be more flexible and risk tolerant at this present moment, more so than in a few years’ time where I may have pressing financial and family commitments along with a “safety net” of a regular income.

What advice would you give to someone starting out on the NEF programme, or indeed any young aspiring entrepreneur?
Ask me again when I’m successful!

Birdie List was featured in an article on Sunday, 15th December, about the New Entrepreneurs Foundation in the Sunday Times, written by Kiki Loizou. To read the article click here or, go to ‘NEF in the News’ in our Media Centre.