Julia Langkraehr, 47, is from London, United Kingdom. She started her retail real estate business, Retail Profile Europe, in 2002. Retail Profile pioneered the concept now seen across Europe of leasing modern kiosks to small retailers in the common areas of shopping centres, railway stations, airports and other venues such as garden centres.
STARTING THE BUSINESS
Q: Where did the idea for your business come from? Where were you in your life and career?
A: When I set up my business I had just been made redundant, and was living in a foreign country and I spotted a gap in the market gap for a niche business.
I had seen the concept working in the USA and when I came to the UK I customised the American model to suit British culture and business.
It is a niche business which is perfect for pop-up shops and experiential marketing, allowing small businesses to test or promote a new product or service in a low-risk environment so they can gain a valuable first step on the retail ladder – while at the same time the venues maximise their revenues.
Q: What was the biggest challenge you faced when starting out?
A: I was so naïve, which served me in some cases, but it was a steep learning curve.
Q: What is the one thing you know now that you wish you knew when you started the business?
A: How to value the company and set up the shareholder and partnership structure.
Q: What would you consider your first big success in the business?
A: Moving into our first independent office, growing from four to 14 employees, breaking the £2 million barrier and winning the Small Business of the Year Awards in the London Business Awards in 2003.
Q: What is the toughest thing about getting to the top / staying on top in your industry specifically?
A: My philosophies are to keep your competitors close, never been complacent and always pretend you are number two, so that you are continually striving to succeed and grow. Stay humble and continue to learn and improve
Q: What do you think will be the biggest challenge facing entrepreneurs in the near future?
A: It has never been easier to start a business, with social media, websites, remote working, and the ability to work without geographical barriers to your market and to market segment your customers. However the biggest challenge for entrepreneurs is that the number of businesses are increasing and it is harder to get a unique idea that solves a problem which people are willing to pay for, and then to consequently scale that business.
Q: What one piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out in your industry and wanting to make it to the top?
A: For me, it is to have a personal vision of what you want to accomplish and where you want to be, and then relentlessly pursuing that vision, supporting it with continuous learning, raising your profile in your industry and sector, giving back by volunteering, both for individuals and associations and being incredibly persistent.