Meet Alexandra Felce, founder of Who London – a member-only social events organisation for anyone 50+. Alexandra generously shares her experience of launching a London start-up – the highs, challenges and tips for budding entrepreneurs looking to set up on their own.
Tell us a bit about Who London
www.wholondon.co.uk launched in July 2014 and is unique because everything is completely ready-made, from dates and times, to event specifics and bookings.
Our events are handpicked for quality and variety. We have many active events all year round, such as a range of dancing classes, which are great fun. Members can also choose from informal and formal events, which include creative workshops and chamber concerts for example.
We also have occasional events for unattached folk. Who London events are for doing more of what you love, trying something new and making friendships.
What inspired you to start up Who London?
I set up Who London after using streetlife.com, the local social network. I found my neighbours had great ideas to get together and enjoy London, but like with my own social time, it’s always difficult to get agreement from everybody on times to meet, where to meet and who pays what. I just thought leisure time shouldn’t be so hard to arrange!
Who London solves that problem because all events are entirely pre-planned; once you’re a member there’s nothing to arrange yourself – members simply choose which events they’d like to go to and click the ‘confirm’ button.
What has the response been like?
Most of our members are with us long term and that tells us a lot of course. And we like to really get out in London communities and talk to people face to face.
We often hear “what an original concept”. A lot of people also tell us that it’s great our events are for the young 50+! We wouldn’t have it any other way.
What do you find to be the main challenge of running your own business?
There’s so much choice how to spend your social time in London that sometimes it’s hard to filter through all our research. Our research never stops; it’s ongoing and so it’s a real challenge to pick up every bit of detail we can about where’s best to go and share. Whilst it’s a challenge, it’s fascinating to discover so much that is on your doorstep!
And the highs?
Running Who London is definitely a high, for sure. It was great partnering with our first event provider: Searcys in St Paul’s, who were fully behind the Who London concept. To get support from such a well-recognised company was a huge high so early on.
Now, my regular high comes from putting together Who London events and it’s immensely satisfying because I know we are constantly helping others make new connections with like-minded people in fun and interesting ways.
The biggest high though is when someone calls or emails us and believes in what we’re about – there’s little that can beat someone being so enthusiastic about your company just as much as you. The experience of building Who London has been extremely rewarding as not only have I met some wonderful people, but with Who London and my team we have also made it possible for others to do the same.
What’s next for Who London?
We’re working on our charity and community events. This was one of our first ideas, but we didn’t want to rush into them as we felt they needed longer to plan. We are also hoping to hold bi-annual larger events where you can meet all the other Who London members and celebrate summer and Christmas together.
What advice would you give to fellow entrepreneurs?
Don’t assume you know your audience when you’re starting out – we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Our initial plan was to focus on dining events but we researched and asked people what they wanted from Who London. The findings told us that it was important to have more ways for our members to interact than constantly over a meal. We really listened to what people felt.
How do you switch off from your work?
I’ve recently really enjoyed the theatre – the last show I saw was Billy Elliot and being about achieving your dreams I loved it. But If I need to completely relax I’ll watch wildlife documentaries as I love learning about animals.
Also, I’m a huge fan of Wimbledon as the talent and skills are pretty special. I’ve been to SW19 a couple of times with a centre court and court one seat and the atmosphere is unforgettable. It always feels like a close-knit village and everyone is part of the action!
To find out more visit: www.wholondon.co.uk