- Neil Sheth hated his stressful job in investment banking and dabbled in side hustles to earn more.
- He quit when his wife was expecting a baby. Now he runs three businesses.
- Here’s his story of how they’ve generated six figures in nine months, as told to Amber Sunner.
This as-told-to essay is based on a transcribed conversation with Neil Sheth, a 37-year-old founder from London, about starting multiple businesses. It has been edited for length and clarity. Insider has verified Sheth’s revenue with documentation.
I left my six-figure job as a project manager at various investment banks like Barclays Capital and Goldman Sachs to pursue my dream of being my boss. I used to work long hours, which made the job stressful. I also hated the role.
Sometimes I worked until 1 a.m., and it became draining. But I learned key skills from the role, like the importance of being organized.
Since I graduated in 2005 I’ve wanted to set up my own business. Instead of jumping in headfirst, I moved from place to place trying to make as much money as possible to help fund that dream. I began working as a project manager in investment banking in 2008.
In 2009 I began learning about SEO and digital marketing and set up many websites as side hustles. Most of them failed.
None of these ventures generated enough to justify quitting my job. I tried to set up a website similar to Groupon before the popular e-commerce site made its way into the UK market.
This idea cost me 20,000 pounds because I didn’t know about marketing and the importance of building a community to achieve success. But each failed idea taught me a different lesson that has helped me today.
My first successful side hustle was helicopter proposals. In 2014 I was watching TV when I saw a program about the superrich: A family got picked up by a helicopter, and an idea was born. I got my laptop out and began searching for helicopter trends.
Flying people to places they could propose was the use of helicopters I found most interesting. I began doing SEO and marketing for the idea while I was still working my day job. Within a few months, High Flying Helicopter, which offers helicopter rides, including for people who want to “propose in style,” was born.
I’ve never been in a helicopter, and I have no experience in the field. But I make people feel comfortable while I make the sale. We now send all of our helicopter work to a supply company we outsource to.
I had a website up and running that cost between 3,000 and 4,000 pounds. The content across the site costs us 1,500 pounds at first. The cost of each package varies, but we hire a helicopter for 500 to 600 pounds each time. We filled a gap in the market, which felt good.
What helped this business was content marketing. I created a gallery and encouraged people to write reviews on TripAdvisor.
I still didn’t like my day job, and I felt like I had to love my job. My wife found out she was expecting our daughter, Sienna, in October 2016. I said, “I need to leave my job before the baby is born.”
I continued looking for ideas when I came across online forums teaching you how to master SEO and content marketing. I also researched websites, attended training, talked to people, and, most importantly, practiced by creating websites and marketing them online.
In early 2017 I quit and went from earning thousands to nothing. I set up a pretty basic website for the SEO and content-marketing business I wanted to start. When I quit, it had no income and zero customers. My wife stopped getting her maternity pay in mid-June, which sent me into a small panic.
I began acquiring clients for Bubbli Digital through networking and showing people how our SEO and content marketing worked for our helicopter endeavor
There was another agency that did paid advertising. After a meeting with them, we understood the value of partnerships. We worked together with this agency on clients. We have about 35 clients for this business.
After building client relationships through referrals, we’re now looking to expand in Dubai. Our daughter was the main reason why I pursued my passion. We now call her our freedom baby.
Last month we launched a copywriting business called Writefully. We set up this venture because we had people come up to us asking solely for content, rather than SEO or content marketing. One Bubbli client asked for two blog posts a month.
We decided to create a new product to service this demand. I had an internal spreadsheet with prices and content writers that determined our rates, and we went to the existing clients who were interested in our content alone.
We sold 50,000 pounds’ worth of content before launching the Writefully brand that way. We hadn’t set up a website, but conversations with existing Bubbli clients nurtured it. We now have an in-house team that handles content when it’s ordered. The costs breakdown for both of these businesses is 250,000 to 300,000 pounds a year, including staff and tools we buy to help our content team.
I have now asked my brother-in-law to manage High Flying Helicopter so I can focus on the other 2 ventures
The three companies have made six figures in the last nine months: 10% from High Flying Helicopters, 10% from Writefully, and 80% from Bubbli Digital.
Though my entry into business was rocky, with multiple failed attempts, the suffering was worth it. It hasn’t been an overnight success, and I’m constantly learning.