Founder Spotlight: Meet Akeem!
Meet our vine community rising star, Akeem! Akeem took part in the Barclays Black Founder Accelerator programme in 2020 where he launched Lockr Space — a platform for sustainable sportswear brands across the UK and Europe.
We spoke with Akeem about his journey setting up Lockr Space, the importance of networks for first-time entrepreneurs, and building mental resilience to keep going!
Akeem, tell us what makes Lockr Space unique?
Sustainability is at the core of Lockr Space, an organisation creating change by challenging sportswear brands and organisations to do better rather than just sell clothes: “It’s about making better quality sportswear that lasts for a long period of time and being responsible. This is standard now — every single organisation needs to be responsible for how they operate and their impact on the world.”
We couldn’t agree more. What motivated you to startup?
“I wanted to do more, be more and I felt there were problems I was well placed to solve. I began Lockr Space after finding too many bad pieces of sportswear, this made me stop and look at the sector — so I used some of the skills I had to startup and in doing so I have met some fantastic people.”
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome in setting up Lockr Space?
“Managing my own expectations! Not being able to meet the high expectations I had set for myself around sales and website views felt very demoralising, however, I knew I had to stay mentally strong. I think that’s a really important attribute for any entrepreneur — building resilience and having the confidence to mentally move forward.”
Is there anything you wish you’d known before starting up to help with this challenge?
“Definitely having more of a plan and a structure. There were lots of parts to Lockr Space I wanted to create and with more structure, from a time and stress point of view, I’d probably be in a better place. But at the same time, it was a great learning experience so I don’t have any regrets.
Any top tips for entrepreneurs struggling with structure?
“It helped me to lay everything out on a plan visually. I also recommend getting advice from experienced entrepreneurs — you can do this through different startup networks like the Vine Community. Learning from others’ mistakes and networking with like-minded entrepreneurs is so valuable.”
Definitely, entrepreneurial communities can be such powerful support networks — do you have any asks or gives to the vine community?
“I think the vine community can help me expand my networks. I’d love to connect with people working in the world of sportswear and sustainability to share learnings. In return, I can share some of my skills in building websites and also some of the learnings from starting up in areas such as finances, tax, accounting, legal etc. — I feel I’ve managed to jump hurdles at every stage and by sharing my experience I could help someone avoid some of the mistakes I’ve made.”
So what are the future plans for Lockr Space?
Lockr Space is growing, both in terms of the number of brands that are being onboarded and sales. The next stage of the journey is to seek investment to continue offering value to customers and take on their feedback to build a more progressive platform.
Thanks Akeem, any final words of wisdom for our Vine Community?
“Always seek help. People are extremely generous and willing to help if you reach out. I think we sometimes underestimate our networks or who a person knows. It’s just as simple as asking a person and they might say no, but if a person says yes, you never know what can happen.”
The Vine Community brings together a network of Changemakers ready to lead and transform our society by making innovation open to anyone, anywhere.
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