What I Wish I Knew – James Noble, founder of MyFirstUK

James Noble, founder of MyFirstUK
James Noble
Natalie Clarkson
by Natalie Clarkson
18 January 2022

James Noble launched MyFirstUK, a car insurance specialist for young drivers, back in 2016 with very little experience. Now, six years on, the company is thriving.

“We've built year on year and we've just completed a million-pound raise and a £10 million valuation. It's not massive compared to other companies but we're really proud of it,” James said. “It shows that we've come on a journey from starting in our bedroom with a Start Up Loan from Virgin StartUp, to now growing a company that employs more than 15 people. It just shows that it is possible.”

We caught up with James to find out what he wishes he’d known sooner in his journey.

1. Surround yourself with good people

When you're young and you get started, what I found is that it's not necessarily about what people know, it's about them sharing a similar work ethic and vision. You're going to go through a lot of processes that aren't straight forward so it's really important to surround yourself with people you can rely on when you're going through that.

I think surrounding yourself with similarly minded people is really, really important. It's something I didn't do at the start but when I did, it made things so much easier. You can navigate problems together and work hard through it all. 

2. Choose investors who add value

It's very easy to just take a cheque from someone, but what really helped us was taking investment from people that really added value to the business. Try to build a team of investors that cover bases that you can't. 

For example, having someone invest who's really good at finances, or really good with technology – the different areas of your business that you might need. Taking investment from people who can add value is really important versus just taking money. It gives you a level of experience that you probably haven't got yourself.

It's good to have people who have been through that journey and know what it's like. They can guide you and advise you. That's something that really helped us.

3. Don't be afraid of rejection

I know it's a bit of a cliché, but what I mean by that is get yourself out there and start meeting people. You need to tell people what you're doing and ask for help. Because at the end of the day, the worst thing that can happen is people say no. But what you're doing in the meantime is building your profile, gaining confidence in speaking to people. And eventually, somebody will step up and give you that help that can take you to another level. 

We had it with MyFirstUK where we wanted to work with insurers but they'd ask us how much insurance we'd sold previously. And we hadn't because we were a new business. So it was like a chicken and egg situation. Eventually, someone took the plunge with us and gave us a chance to show them what we could do. Had we not gone and done 15 meetings before we got that one, we probably wouldn't have got that one. I think too many people are conscious of not wanting to be rejected but if you go for it, you're never going to regret it.

Thinking about starting your own business? Visit Virgin StartUp for advice, guidance and Start Up Loans.