MSc Marketing Practice '11
In 2011, immediately after completing his MSc in Marketing Practice at the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, David Stapleton packed his bags and moved to London where he spent several year’s working on London’s trading floors before making the difficult decision that this was not the right career path for him. With a passion for entrepreneurship and wanting to do his own thing, he founded Bua Fit in 2016. Bua Fit is an app for outdoor fitness and is the first marketplace of its kind which connects consumers to trainers for group classes in a seamless way. Bua Fit has support and backing from a variety of sources including Google for Start-up’s, London Sport, entrepreneurs of multi-million-pound businesses and professional athletes.
About David Stapleton
Tell us about your educational background and early career?
I’m a Lilly White, raised in Celbridge, Co. Kildare. My parents chose Castleknock College in Dublin for my secondary education and I loved it there! So much so, that I transitioned from a day-pupil into full-time boarding at the school.
I was quite entrepreneurial from a young age and was regularly looking for ways to make money. For e.g. during my time in school, I noticed a wide level of dissatisfaction amongst my teachers and fellow pupils towards the seats/chairs that were provided by the School for staff and students to sit on. They were lots of complaints about back pain, sore backs and bad backs so I sourced a product, a type of chair which was much more comfortable and designed to avoid back aches/pains and sold these chairs to my teachers and fellow students.
I completed a BA in Business and Marketing at Griffith College Dublin. During this time, I set up a successful seasonal business with two friends. We removed the hassle of purchasing and disposing of Christmas trees and provided an on-line service in 2009, our venture was entitled ‘Trees on Wheels’!
Following completion of my undergraduate degree at Griffith College I was delighted to be accepted onto the prestigious and highly competitive Marketing Development Programme (MSc in Marketing Practice) at Smurfit Business School. During my time at Smurfit I was exposed to some fantastic lecturers and experiences and I learnt a huge amount about the professional world and what was required to succeed. I was given a fantastic platform to progress my career and I made some wonderful long-term friends.
After my time in Smurfit I left Dublin for London to commence my career in Foreign Exchange Broking. This was an incredibly hard-core sales environment. I spent 3.5 years in FX sales and then transitioned into deliverable FX trading which saw me working alongside FD’s, CFO’s and CEO’s to manage their company’s currency risk(s). Following that, I spent 2 years in the Equity market space, dealing with High Net Worth individuals, helping them build profitable and sustainable investment portfolios.
With the benefit of hindsight, I was guilty of following the herd and I was miserable for years in a career that wasn’t really for me. Don’t fall into the trap, be you.
What does your current role involve?
One of the great things about my current role, an aspect that really appeals to me, is the variety that comes with it, it changes regularly.
I regularly ask myself, what are the most important problems facing our business and how do we solve these for the business we’re building of the future? When decided upon, we then start to execute.
My day-to-day consists primarily of marketing, sales and product related work. On a broader level however, as the non-technical founder, I deal with everything from the accounts, recruitment, legislative requirements to customer service and dealing with our investors. No day ever tends to be the same and that’s something which I really enjoy and thrive on.
What motivates you?
Helping others. Inspiring people to be their best self.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I roll my sleeves up and get stuck in. I lead by doing and not telling.
Who or what has influenced or inspired you?
It’s the combination of my two passions coming together, business and fitness. The problem which our business aims to solve inspires me to keep going with massive action, it’s a key motivator for me! Outdoor fitness, in group formats, is scientifically proven to be the healthiest way for individuals to stay active, yet the industry is very dated when it comes to the technology and connectivity to meet this need, and specifically for the outdoor market.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Having the courage to walk away from a successful career that I had invested so much time and energy in for many years, to leave that all behind me, in order to take a risk and create something new and untested. This was an incredibly difficult decision to make and regardless of the outcome, it’s an achievement in my opinion.
Becoming a Google Start-Up and securing investment from a silent Private Equity investor who took an early position in Spotify.
Any failures you would like to share?
Where do I start! I fail every day. I am not afraid of failure, in fact, I even encourage it as I believe that this is how you become a better person. People seem so afraid of failure because they care what other people will think, I’ve always been the opposite and embraced it! I’ve failed in my 9-5pm jobs and roles.
I can share an entrepreneurial failure.
One time, my friend and I imported Christmas jumpers at retailer prices from Ireland and actually believed we could sell them at margin in a London Market (wholesale), how silly of us! We rented a space and got a trader’s license in Portobello Market. It was a disaster, the whole project from start to finish! Let’s just say we lost money!
What are your tips and advice for success?
It really depends how you define success as it’s so subjective. I don’t consider myself as successful right now, however, I can share tips on what got my business to this stage.
Before I do, I can confirm I’m very happy! This is a percentage of my success secured. However, it depends how ambitious you are, I’m only in first gear! I haven’t had a pay check in 13 months and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.
Tip 1: You must find your love; this makes you happy and money goes out the window.
Invest time in finding your career love - if you don’t have a love for your work, you will fail, underperform, quit or be unhappy. Not liking your work limits your capabilities and causes huge risks when you face big business problems. I say this from personal experience. Keep searching for your love because you will move so much faster.
How do you know you love what you do?
You are willing to pay to work instead of working to get paid. You get up early and work before your regular ‘9-5pm’ paid position of employment. You get home, eat and continuing working after your 9-5 role, and again at the weekends. And you are delighted to do this. I did this for 3 years. It’s called Bootstrapping. You forget to eat as you get into such deep work comas.
Tip 2: Train your mind for success. Being successful in a 9-5 role is a different story to starting a business. There is massive physiological aspect to it.
Tip 3: NEVER listen to the haters. I got over 150 ‘Nos’’ before I got my first investment. When you get a no, stay focused and hunt for feedback. I was told by the Head of Products at one of the largest companies in the world that “David, what you are trying to do is impossible.”
Tip 4: Perseverance. Don’t give up. Take massive action with your productivity. When it’s at the lowest point you are about to hit a new milestone.
Tip 5: Get comfortable with being VERY uncomfortable.
What are your plans for the future?
To start, build and own a variety of business which make the world a better place. I have no shortage of ideas with a long list of problems that need solving after Bua Fit.
How has your degree benefited your career and/or personal life?
Hugely. I made some great friends and business contacts. It taught me how to perform in professional environments and I love to learn from other people.
What is your fondest memory from your time at UCD?
It would certainly involve food and business in some way. Eating pizza and working late with MDP students on campus.
How important is the UCD alumni network to you?
Very. Some great minds and people amongst the network.
What are your main interests outside work?
Fitness, food, studying other businesses, investing time on personal development and having some fun!
Tell us something most people don’t know about you?
I hate when it is really windy out!
What piece of technology can you not live without?
iNotes on my phone and headphones. My best ideas come from listening to different music and writing content.
Who are your favourite writers and what are your favourite books?
Coming from a sales background I’m a huge believer in ‘productivity creates opportunity’ and why I love the ‘Five Hour Work Day’ by Stephan Aarstol.
What is your pet hate?
People that fake laugh in a business environment. Why do people do this?
What is your favourite place in the world to visit and why?
Tulum, Mexico. It has everything I need. Amazing beaches, training spots, hotels, amazing food and night life.
What is your favourite dish to cook?
A roast chicken dinner but if a dish was a sandwich, I would run with that!
Who is your favourite brand or musician?
What’s the last performance you went to that you loved?
In the O2 3 years ago. I think!
Name three things on your bucket list?
To ring the bell for my first IPO
Travel the world with my partner Cat
What charities are closest to your heart?
With my last business we delegated a small portion of profits to The Irish Osteoporosis and Temple St Children’s Hospital.
Cancer Research. I boxed for this charity and any Alzheimer's charities.