Xanthe, Hugo, William, and Patrick Woodhead, the family that means business
Brothers and sisters are rare in the world of business. There’s Bobby and Sahar Hashemi of Coffee Republic. The Winklevoss Twins of Facebook fame, who later made a billion in Bitcoin. The Hummus Brothers. But it’s a slim list.
So why have four siblings teamed up and plunged into the world of startups?
Xanthe, Hugo, William, and Patrick are the cofounders of Pilcro, a webapp designed to help companies get all their brand assets in one place. “You know where you stand with siblings,” says Xanthe. “Trust is so important. You could meet your cofounder at a networking event, and that can be very hard. When times are tough you can 100% rely on your family.”
You know where you stand with siblings.
Being a family instantly eliminates the trivial stuff. “If someone’s not in the office,” says Hugo, “You don’t think, ‘Oh, where are they?’” It actually took us a bit of time to adjust. In your old job if there’s nothing to do you’d pretend to work. No point doing that here!”
Pilcro is an easy-to-use tool that helps businesses find their logos, copy, fonts and images. You can save and share Pilcro Artboards with your Google Drive. It’s a brilliant idea which keeps brand values consistent across multiple channels and touch-points.
But it needed a bit of technical knowhow to create. Any entrepreneur will confirm that hiring specialists is expensive. Fortunately, the siblings cover the needs of the business with their individual skills.
Xanthe is a corporate lawyer and ruthless organiser. Hugo is the strategist, and brings experience from bluechips such as Aviva. Patrick is an Oxford trained mathematician whose hero is Leonardo da Vinci. And William’s the webdesigner, who worked as a full stack developer with a number of startups.
We’re very fortunate to have technical experience inhouse, because I think a lot of cofounders have great ideas and realise they have no way of implementing it.
What a mix! “We’ve got pretty good diversity,” says Xanthe, modestly. “We’re very fortunate to have technical experience inhouse, because I think a lot of cofounders have great ideas and realise they have no way of implementing it. And then you end up paying someone as a contractor and that can be very difficult. They’re not engaged in the same way.”
You have to brief each other a lot less because you know each other so well.
Communication is faster. “You have to brief each other a lot less because you know each other so well,” says Xanthe. “So if you say, ‘Can you just sort that out?’, you’re not having to explain it. You know how they work.”
Of course there is the odd hiccup. Younger siblings can get the baby treatment. Patrick says, “I think the most challenging thing early on was being able to challenge my older brother and sister. If you have a strong point you can’t say, ‘Oh no, they know better’. You have to get rid of many, many years of saying ‘Okay’ and getting on with it. You have to stand up for yourself.”
And once in a while there’s an oldfashioned row. Hugo reveals: “The worst is occasionally something really petty can flare up into a massive squabble, as it does with siblings. But the good thing about sibling arguments is they tend to go from zero to a hundred and back to normal as if they never happened. There’s no lasting damage done. You need those things to keep you sane.”
But the positives generally outweigh the negatives by a distance.
Pilcro has gone from launch in 2017 into fullyfledged service provider, suitable for clients of all size. The business is located in the Tea Building in Shoreditch, where currency unicorn Transferwise and trend ad agency Mother are located.
It’s a fabulous place to grow the business. The siblings chose Tide for Pilcro’s current account, which can take the business from startup to wherever it can get to.
When they need to grow the headcount, maybe keep it in the family and hire the parents?
“We did get our parents to do a couple of days of email marketing at one point,” says Xanthe. “But the results didn’t justify the sort of parental stick we got, so we drew a line under that!”
To see what Pilcro can do for your marketing visit: Pilcro.com