After a successful and scandalous career as a TV producer making shows like The Big Breakfast and Big Brother, self-styled “Ideas Man” Shed Simove is now a performer, author, corporate speaker and entrepreneur heading up a novelty gift empire that has sold approaching one million humorous gift products. Based in Wandsworth, he has produced his own currency (the Ego), changed his name to God (and back) and taken his live show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and around London.
How did your business come about?
It all began with a pair of with "Juggling Boobs" – a novelty product I saw in a shop years ago. The "Juggling Boobs" were silicone rubber bosoms that you could juggle with. It was mind-blowing to me that someone in business had had the idea to make these, sourced a factory to do so and then got them distributed. I suddenly thought ‘I want to do this’ so I researched the process of how a gift idea comes to life, came up with some ideas for products that I thought would make people laugh, and grew a large portfolio of smutty and childish pun-based novelty gift ideas. I then trekked round the country to see gift companies, trying to interest them in the ideas I’d come up with. My first big hit – the Designer Beaver - was a global success, and that meant that other companies wanted to work with me.
What is the best thing about being an entrepreneur?
Being an entrepreneur in my kind of business means I can be childish all day, which is handy given that I’m a bloke. If you can choose how you spend your day, not be aggravated by someone telling you what to do and do something that really fires you up then you’ll be fortunate enough to lead a fulfilling and exciting existence.
Who's your biggest inspiration?
Hugh Hefner. James Dyson. Leonardo Da Vinci. Richard Dawkins. Del Boy. My brilliant, eccentric Mum and charming, entrepreneurial Dad. Get those people together – now that’s a dinner party! Actually, anyone who has an idea and makes it come to life inspires me. We often forget that the only failure is not to try something.
Do you have any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
1) If you tell someone you’ll do something, make sure you do it. Be decent. Wear a condom. Start now.
2) Treat your life as one huge science experiment. A science experiment never ‘fails’, instead every experiment always gets a ‘result’. That result often leads to another experiment. If you try to make an idea happen and it doesn’t quite turn out like you thought or wanted, some people might describe that as failure (a powerful and misused word). But, if you’re a scientist and your results come back different from the hypothesis, the experiment is still deemed successful because you learned something hugely useful – even if it’s what to avoid next time!
3) Read my book Ideas Man (did you notice how cleverly and subtlely I slipped that plug in!) – it contains loads of practical tips and tricks for how to be a successful entrepreneur.
More entrepreneurial people lurk in our archives.