By David Hathiramani, CEO, A Suit That Fits


I started A Suit That Fits with the mission of "Bespoke for all" with a friend in 2006.

Looking back, I now realise how important it is to have an experienced board with you on the journey. Without exaggerating, I think having an experienced board early on would have skipped 3 years of work. I'm writing this to help other Start-ups skip those 3 years.

Here are my 6 reasons why a Start-up should have an experienced board early:

1. You're too positive.

Symptoms: "We'll easily beat that target" or "It will be here on time" or "It won't cost that much" or "They'll pay on time".

No matter how objective you try to be, you know just how great your idea is so you are always extremely positive. This is dangerous as it means your objectivity can go out of the window. In 2012, we were joined by an extremely prudent Financial Director (Keith Watson) who acts as a balance for this - and it's been invaluable.

2. You've started to forgot how big the potential is.

Symptoms: "We'll never get more than 20% growth" or "We'll never be able to cope with doubling in size"

In 2014, we had finalised the platform to rapidly scale up. Our mission of "Bespoke for all" is a huge goal to aim for. However, internally, we needed to have someone reinforce to us just what a game-changer it could be. Gi Fernando (Yplan, Citymapper investor) invested and joined the board. He is a visionary and the board member we can rely on to constantly remind the rest of the board just how big the potential of "Bespoke for all" really is.

3. You're making excuses as to why you haven't got things done.

Symptoms: "It was such a busy quarter, I didn't manage that" or "There was something important that came up, so I'll have to do it next month"

In 2014 Simon Calver (Lovefilm, mothercare) invested and joined the board and served to make sure we did what we said we would do. We all know that there is no excuse for not getting objectives done. Everyone (especially in a Start-up) is busy. The difference between success and failure is getting the right stuff done. Having a board that you respect, and commit to and having a chairman that holds you to account is invaluable. I have previously not done something that I said I would do in a board meeting. I felt terrible. The next morning, I set to work ensuring that it would never happen again - getting a month's worth of objectives done in a day. In the most recent quarter, despite the Nepal earthquake (our amazing tailors are based there), I achieved both of the (large) objectives that I was set. I now know that nothing counts as an excuse.

4. You don't know enough people.

Symptoms: "Where do I recruit a marketing manager?" or "Where do I find a good design agency?" or "Where do I go for investors?"

Since having a full board in 2014, introductions have helped meet the right people and (together with a little name dropping) access to talent has significantly increased.

5. You don't know what you don't know.

Symptoms: "You: My team are just setting up Facebook ads like this, Board Member: I know someone who specialises in that - I'll introduce you." or "Board Member: You should really be looking at doing business generation instead"

On a number of occasions I have had the board suggest things that have really saved a lot of time. If they're any good, your board will have been through a successful journey that you are trying to repeat. Just having them there with their suggestions will save you time.

6. You're not looking at things objectively from all angles.

Symptom: "You: If we invest in IT, we'll make £50000 a month more sales, Board Member: But why not just take on a sales person instead?"

Your natural inclination may not always be the best way. I am from an IT background, so I always try to solve problems with IT. However, having a diverse board may suggest a way of solving the same problem through a different angle. Surrounding yourself with a broad set of interested and talented people, will give you the best chance of the right objective action.

Shameless plug

One of my most recent board objectives was to set up Crowdfunding, and allow our amazing customers, and the Crowdcube members to invest in us. You can check out the link here: www.crowdcube.com/asuitthatfits.

We'd love you to be a part of our journey to make "Bespoke for all" a reality.