With his entrepreneurial spirit leading the way and the help of the government’s start up loans scheme, Mark Corbett has been developing a cool new project – London’s first pop up private members club called The Vault. I’ve picked his brain on various topics like what this club will offer those who join, his advice for other budding entrepreneurs in London and his best London food and drink recommendations.
LLO: Tell us a bit about yourself and your background. How did you get to where you are today on your career path as an entrepreneur?
MC: Well it all began as a rather ambitious, but entirely lost fresher at Kings College London. I studied philosophy, came from a family of nurses and doctors, had no idea what I was supposed to do in life, and had never made a penny from anything remotely entrepreneurial.
However, I love learning, and while my degree was great, I wasn’t learning anything practical, so I opened my eyes and stumbled upon Enactus – a student society focused on learning new skills to help empower the community utilising business practices. Great! I put myself forward, and suddenly I was pitching for £10k to finance our plans. And then I was project leading teaching business skills to kids with learning difficulties, gang crime victims, leading large student teams, networking, working abroad in Beijing, Kuala Lumpur and Los Angeles, and just always learning and pushing myself. It culminated in winning an social action award as part of KCL, which is one of my proudest moments! It also led to representing the UK in Berlin, in which we crashed and burned – one hell of a roller-coaster year.
Needless to say, I was hooked. I loved it all. I have since left university, got paid to work for the governing body behind Enactus and trained thousands of students to do a better job than I did, coached many more teenagers on government and privately funded programmes, tried and failed to set up a fashion business (great idea but just not the right industry for me!), delivered and coached people on how to do a TED talk, and now have the new business, which is by the far the most exciting thing I’ve done yet!
LLO: You’re currently creating a new pop up members club – The Vault – in London. How does it work? What can you tell us about it without giving away all your secrets?
MC: So it’s London’s very first popup private members club. Exclusive, swanky and truly unique, we’re looking to package up all sorts of exciting nights to suit the party goers’ needs. Not to mention the venue is open for hire, and with it being nice and cosy at just 50 capacity, we can really tune in to your individual needs and lay on the perfect decor. The final secret, I feel you’ll have to discover for yourself!
LLO: How much will it cost to become a member and what does it include? What sort of events will you host?
MC: Membership for a year is priced at £375, but we’re launching it for free as long as you join before the end of June – so a whole year for free! After that, we’re currently pricing up various nights and packages. Starting from £25.95, you get a free glass of champagne and an hour and a half inside the venue, but we’re currently in the process of finalizing lots of joint ventures with other venues, so that we can get you a free drink at a nice West End bar and then dropped off with a queue jump into a club, meaning we’re arranging your whole night for you! All part of the service!
LLO: The Vault is being created by yourself with a team of other young London entrepreneurs utilising the government’s start up loans scheme. Tell us about the scheme and how it’s helping you realise your ambitions.
MC: Lead by James Caan, the £100 million scheme is designed to help foster a new generation of entrepreneurs through a loan of up to £10,000 at a low 6% APR. given the state the economy is in, soaring university fees, and lack of graduate roles available once you finish, this is a great alternative for graduates, and should mean more SMEs, which are the driving force needed to get us out of this recession, not banks or big blue chips.
LLO: What are your three best pieces of advice for London’s budding entrepreneurs?
MC: 1.) Get started now! Don’t wait to perfect the idea, or to know absolutely everything in the industry. This will come through total immersion, not for sitting on the sidelines. 2.) Reach out to your network. You may have heard it’s not what you know, it’s who you know – wrong. It’s what you do with who you know! 3.) And the best for last, find a mentor. Think of them as cheat sheets to life, people who can tell you how to anticipate and overcome problems rather than react, trial and fail and have to learn the hard way.
LLO: Tell us about your favourite part of an average day in the life of Mark Corbett.
MC: The fact is, there is no average day! I don’t like working from home, as that’s where I relax, so I’m a part of a private members club for entrepreneurs and creative types called the Hospital Club, which is perfect for working in, plus I always meet people every day with cool ideas themselves or potential members for the Vault. I cycle the 7 miles in every morning and try to get some gym (or sauna!) time before work starts. I recommend everyone invest in a club that can be a second home and has an environment that suits your personality and goals. Soon, I intend to be working inside The Vault itself during the daytime, which means we can also bring prospective clients/partners inside to give them the Vault experience. As a popup club, we can also have some fun quite literally bringing the Vault to them!
LLO: What’s your ideal way to spend a Saturday in London when you’re not working.
MC: I guess it depends on the week I’ve had. If it’s been a particularly big week then I love a total chill day. Ban myself from the bike, laze around the house with housemates and friends and watch films or the mighty Arsenal! Then out in the evening! Usually though, I like to get out into the sunshine (if there is any) and do some reading. Bit of philosophy, Sherlock Holmes, or more often than not, just reading great articles online about leaderships/tech/entrepreneurial stuff. I love know what’s going on and constantly learn from people who are industry leaders.
LLO: Tell us about another London-based entrepreneur who is doing something cool that’s worth talking about.
MC: Well, the coolest event app I’ve seen is currently being developed, but that’s all hush hush… Further down the line is 100-Million, a new online community for entrepreneurs looking to share the learning, collaborate and also how to spend the hard earned cash when you finally make it! What I particularly love is how excited the founders get by other people’s ideas, and the connections they are able to make for you because of their rapidly growing network and full on immersion into the start up scene.
LLO: Give us your top recommendations on where to eat and drink away from the tourist trail.
MC: If you like coffee or want a great date venue, I love Flat White on Dean Street. It’s so intimate, has great coffee and is in an ideal location in the heart of Soho. If you buy coffee for home, go to Monmouth in Borough Market, and then you can also choose from a stunning range of fresh foods, from ostrich burgers and steaks, to paella and oysters! It’s a phenomenal food market and easy to get to even if you don’t know London. And of course… if you LOVE a good party then look no further than http://vaultlondon.com!
LLO: Best London Discovery?
MC: Does London by bicycle count? Investing in a bike is one the best decisions I’ve made, and nothing gives me more pleasure than cycling through a new park in the sunshine. And every time I’m in Hyde Park, I feel massively invigorated. I’m also healthier than I’ve ever been befor, and that definitely counts for something!