PWC Masterclass: Delegate Story - Stuart Abbott, Dassi

Stuart Abbott, CEO of cycling brand Dassi, attended a Breakthrough Masterclass hosted by accounting giant PwC. The event provided him with contacts that have had an immediate impact on his business – the effect could be transformative, as Stuart explains

Stuart Abbott, co-founder and CEO of premium bike brand Dassi, found that attending a recent ‘Driving Growth in Your Business’ Masterclass hosted by Santander and PwC – in conjunction with PwC’s accounting service My Financepartner – has provided advantages over and above simply getting fresh insight. Connections Stuart made on the day are helping him secure £1 million in R&D funding from the EU.

Stuart’s decision to attend the event was prompted by what he saw as a great networking opportunity and the chance to “validate” his business’ growth plans for the future. “In my industry it’s easy to get siloed just talking with cyclists, coaches and people who source materials,” he says. “If you’re not careful, you can forget about the broader needs of the business, which is obviously a big mistake.”
 
“This event gave me an opportunity to network with people who understand business and can help mine to grow,” he adds. “I wanted to view Dassi from a different standpoint and get some suggestions about how I can improve the business; there is a lot of value in that.”
 
Help with business planning
 
Dassi designs and assembles custom-made performance bikes for road cyclists and triathlon enthusiasts, with most bikes selling for a price tag north of £4,000. Stuart founded this fast-growing company three years ago and last year experienced a trebling of sales.

“From a financial point of view, the Masterclass might well prove transformative,” explains Stuart. “I met several brilliant contacts during the day.” Stuart Abbott, CEO, Dassi

Running an established and growing business, Stuart was familiar with many of the financial themes discussed during the event, which included creating KPIs, budgeting and forecasting. He describes the sessions as a “useful refresher”, which gave him confidence about Dassi’s business plan, particularly with regard to securing funding in future.
 
“The foundational elements will help me with the business planning that we’re going through at the moment for funding,” he says. “The speakers [including Tony Price, Head of PwC’s My Financepartner] were able to add a lot of value to that process. They were articulate and added detail but also a bit of fun into the session.”
 
‘Value in all key topic areas’
 
“The event was well put together, there was value in all the key topic areas,” says Stuart. “As an introduction to running a bigger business it was brilliant. It doesn’t stop here either, PwC has invited me to a separate workshop on trading in the Middle East because I am about to go out there.”
 
He adds, “As a platform to engage and get small businesses working with large entities, the Masterclass was great. It delivered on what it promised to achieve at the beginning of the day.”
 
Before attending the event, Stuart planned to invest between £50,000 and £60,000 in research and development in 2015, funded with company cashflow. But through a contact he met during the day, he is now applying for a £1 million R&D grant, non-match funded, from the EU.
 
Expert speakers
 
“From a financial point of view, the Masterclass might well prove transformative,” explains Stuart. “I met several brilliant contacts during the day.” One of these contacts is currently helping him with the grant process. “It’s about 80% likely that we’ll get the funding,” he adds.
 
Stuart also met with entrepreneur Sam Pemberton, one of the event’s expert speakers, who offered to personally help him develop the business. Sam has bought, built and sold several businesses and, as Stuart admits, “he is where I would like to be somewhere in the future.” He adds: “Where else would I get the opportunity to speak to somebody like that and get input and coaching?”
 
‘Forward-thinking and supportive’

“This event gave me an opportunity to network with people who understand business and can help mine to grow.” Stuart Abbott

Asked to sum up the key message from the Masterclass, Stuart says large organisations like PwC and Santander are ready and waiting to help growing businesses and want to support their future. They are forward-thinking and supportive, and above all want to work with ambitious entrepreneurs.
 
“The single biggest message is that you are not alone,” he says. “You can interact with experts and get validation for your business. I worried that we would be too small to be bothered with – that couldn’t be further from the truth.”

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