The Right Formula To Entrepreneurial Success: Is there one?

Barry Gough, CEO & Founder of Memento Exclusives, talks turning a vision into a reality and the truth about getting a business off the ground
Barry Gough
Barry Gough

Picture this, you’re in your early twenties, you’re travelling the world, and you’re part of one of the world’s most high-profile sports – living the dream. This was true for me back in the day, and it’s fair to say I have tonne of stories from these adventures. However, it’s the years that followed that truly defined me and continue to do so.

As CEO & Founder of Memento Exclusives, I now manage a corporate sports memorabilia business with more than 100 employees (and growing every week) and partner with F1, UFC, MotoGP and more. If we flashback to the 00s, I was working as a number one race mechanic in F1 – it was during this job that I initially had my idea for the memorabilia empire that I (along with my team) have now built, although I may not have realised it at that point.

My story is the backbone of the business and whilst my scenario may have been unique, it sets a precedent for other young entrepreneurs who are afraid to start a business for fear that it won’t pick up. Let’s rewind a little to my vision and where it came from...

Working in F1, I was amazed by how much went to waste – (and I’m sure this wasn’t an issue unique to F1®). From the bodywork made for the cars, to the wheel rims used in every race, so much would simply be disposed of at the end of each season – an enormous waste, not to mention damaging to the environment. This gave me a lightbulb moment... What if I could find a solution for this whilst also filling a desirable gap in the market? And this question is really something that all entrepreneurs should ask themselves – if what you’re offering/selling is not being done by others, your business could be answering many prayers.

And that’s exactly what I did. I saw the demand from fans and collectors for the items that were used at the tracks, and other than merchandise and items sold from collector to collector, there wasn’t really anyone offering a dedicated place to go for officially licensed items. That’s where Memento Exclusives was born.

The Crucial Formula...

There are many factors I could attribute my success to, and whilst the truth is there isn’t any clear-cut formula, there are several things I deem pinnacle for realising your business vision.

Firstly, the aforementioned question – can I fill a gap in the market? Whilst yes, you could have a successful business for an already filled marketplace – think how many successful food chains and coffee chains there are – the question can translate to what can I offer that isn’t being done? How can I do it differently? What can I offer that my competitors don’t? Using these questions will really help you visualise what future you see for your idea. For us, it’s our incredible re-engineered range, featuring event used items that now have a new purpose and new function.

Resources, support and contacts. Having worked in F1, I had of course managed to build my network in that area, even if in a slightly different arena. My face and name were already known by many teams and so when I started to develop Memento Exclusives, I was able to pitch my business with more success having already built a network. Today, networking and building a support group can become easier with resources like social media – finding the right contacts can be as simple as a Google or LinkedIn search these days. Put the time into this stage and it will pay off.

Understanding the market. For us, our market was die-hard sports fans and private collectors. Understanding the way in which they thought and the ways in which they valued the sports, helped me in choosing what items I wanted Memento Exclusives to sell. Sports fans want to be as close to their favourite athletes as possible, so we provide an online presence that not only offers these opportunities but is built on the same shared passion. We now have three large brands: F1 Authentics, UFC Collectibles and MotoGP Authentics – each selling memorabilia and re-engineered items with a difference, ranging in price from £50 - £500,000.

And finally, keep growing. Success didn’t happen overnight. Memento Exclusives has been developing officially since 2010, with its largest growth happening only in the last five years. Build out a strong team, continue to learn and grow with your audience, and always keep your vision and passion at the centre. Our mantra is ‘Own The Moment’ - it’s something we allow fans to do but it also echos the importance of seizing the day.

Written by
Barry Gough