Ben Davison, founder of Salient

Photo of Ben Davison

Ben Davison is the founder of Salient, a startup developing professional post workout clothing. Nearly 10 months down the line and I’ve developed a shirt, through thorough testing, had the first production run made and attended the UK’s largest fitness expo.

What is your background? What made you decide to become an entrepreneur?

I was going to the gym and/or cycling before going to work, even though I showered afterwards, due to my higher core body temperature – when I sat down at my desk I would then begin to sweat. I hated feeling uncomfortable for the rest of the day, so I developed my own shirt that would be much more breathable. However, I wanted to improve more than just this, I wanted it to fit better, be truly non-iron, stretch to allow more freedom of movement & be ecological. Hence, the Salient shirt was born.

What is your definition of entrepreneurship?

For me, where ‘salient’ comes from is all about bringing together the salient features of existing products/ideas and combining them to create a superior product. One which has multiple benefits, but does this in the most efficient way.
I can only define myself an entrepreneur if I know that I have added value to people and the environment by creating a product in this way.

How and when did you know your idea was good enough to develop it?
Salient Logo

When I first conducted a survey, I had great feedback on the concept of the idea. With people struggling to find a shirt with all of these benefits rolled into one. The challenge was coming next, in actually developing the shirt…

What would you say are the top 3 skills that needed to be a successful entrepreneur? Why?

Passion, dedication, lateral thinking

What is your favourite part of being an entrepreneur?

Hearing how people love something that I’ve put so much effort in to create.

What individual, company or organization inspires you most? Why?

Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia. After I read his book, Let My People Go Surfing – he opened my eyes to not just a product or a brand but a way of life that he has created for the people that work for him. If it’s a great day to go surfing, he doesn’t expect people to be in the office, he expects them to be on a surfboard.
Not to mention his environmental approach. But he created quality products that people valued and through this he was able to build a community of like-minded people that shared his passions and interests and enabled them to lead their lives with these at the centre of their lives. Instead of them being secondary and only accessible at the weekends.

If you had 5 minutes with the above indiv/company/org, what would you want to ask or discuss?

Where does your inspiration come from? What method do you use to keep focus on such a long-term goal such as creating a company focused around its people?

What would you say have been some of your mistakes, failures or lessons learned as an entrepreneur?

The biggest mistake I’ve made is to feel annoyed at myself when I make a mistake – because this is exactly what we’re taught to do and I’ve been giving in to that. Failing should be about recognising what didn’t work and moving on to the next iteration and improving, not about being hung up on it feeling upset & frustrated.

How have you funded your ideas?

Initially a Virgin Start Up loan.

Are there any sector-specific awards/grants/competitions that have helped you?

Not yet!

What is good about being an entrepreneur in Oxfordshire? Bad?

There are plenty of events and help to get involved in, such as this one!

If a new entrepreneur or startup came to you looking for entrepreneurship resources, where would you send them? (Anything Oxfordshire especially!)

Oxford Startups, WPOX (WordPress Oxford) on meetup where anything related to helping with your website you can go down to one of their nights and they’ll help out!

Any last words of advice?

Keep creating/doing what you love and if you’re not yet at that stage. Make a plan now to either find out what that is and/or make a plan on how you’re going to get there.