“Why is that man wearing a shiny suit?” asks Nikhil Shah, founder of Mixcloud. “Is he a magician?”
We are sitting on the wooden floor of the “Aquarium” room in the East End’s Rag Factory. This is the Fishtank festival, bringing together music, art, business and er… burlesque. Downstairs, you can hear the opening notes of a funk band but we’re here for the Monkey Business sessions: a series of talks by entrepreneurs. Shah has just given his lecture on “Bootstrapping your startup” and now there’s a rather strange man standing on stage in a black – and very shiny – suit.
“Please give it up for Shed Simove,” shouts the compere. Shah and I exchange glances: who?
Simove won’t be under the radar for much longer. Having worked behind the scenes on TV shows from Big Brother to The Big Breakfast and launching stars including Kelly Brook, Tess Daly, and Russell Brand, Simove is now stepping into the limelight as a comedian, author and entrepreneur. He is the ideas man behind such inventions as the “Martin Loofah King” bath mitt and the Credit Crunch Breakfast cereal (Simove is currently trying to get this product into Sainsbury’s so do mention it to your local store manager). His revamped version of the classic Wooly Willy iron filings game, “Designer Beaver” even made it on to Paris Hilton’s reality TV show, Paris Hilton’s British Best Friend. Although the heiress proved rather reluctant to actually design a beaver, claiming it would embarrass her mother…
At Fishtank, he is recounting tales of his entrepreneurial successes. And what a journey it has been.
“My speciality, and fierce passion, is coming up with ideas and making them happen,” says Simove. “Fierce passion” is right. After his adult boiled sweets, Clitoris Allsorts, proved successful on the novelty market, Simove decided to trademark the name to prevent rival companies from copying his idea. When he was turned down by the Trademark Office, he began a full-scale assault on the organisation, which resulted in thousands of pounds of legal fees for a patent lawyer and the registration, finally, of this trademark: “The Trademark Office Has No Sense Of Humour”. Simove doesn’t take “no” for an answer.
The entrepreneur specialises in designing products for the £8bn novelty goods sector. Most retailing for under £5. He unveils his latest invention, the “Flying F*ck”, at the festival but alas, a technical hitch means we are denied the sight of a swearing helicopter whizzing around the room. Nevertheless, it’s a memorable product.
Simove is a master of harnessing PR. He once changed his name to God and applied for a credit card. The bank refused, giving rise to headlines including: Bank snubs God”. This is marketing gold. Even his clothes are all part of his self-publicity: it’s hard to ignore a man wearing a reflective business suit.
As for Simove’s next projects, he’s just published his first book – Ideas Man, and is attempting to become world famous in one year. If he succeeds by Friday 13th August 2010, he wins a £50 bet placed at William Hill with odds of 100-1. He plans to donate the winnings to Macmillan Cancer Support. Real Business will be keeping an eye on this trail-blazing entrepreneur, and we’ll keep you posted on his next hare-brained scheme.
Click the links to find out more about Shed Simove and Fishtank Festival.
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