Neil Burgess – Founder of Cura

[quote style=”boxed”]Don’t let a fear of failing stop you from pursuing your idea. Remember that it’s OK to make mistakes – just don’t make the same mistake twice.[/quote]

Neil Burgess is a social entrepreneur based in the UK and founder of a new website designed to support carers and people in need of care.

While he and his Fiancée were busy planning their wedding in 2011, Neil’s family were also busy helping to look after his elderly grandparents. The added complications of organising a wedding while caring for loved ones highlighted in Neil’s mind the inefficiencies many carers experience on a daily basis. With time to reflect when the wedding was over the idea for Cura emerged.

Cura is a simple online platform that allows you to create a secure community to which you invite your friends and family and can then upload all the tasks you need help with. All community members can then see in real-time what needs doing and can quickly ‘take’ the tasks they can help with.

Still working full-time, Neil has always had an entrepreneurial streak and runs Cura completely in his spare time.

What are you working on right now?

I’m always working hard to keep Cura free to use for all the carers and people in need of care out there. I’ve just managed to raise the funding required to keep the lights on at ‘Cura Towers’ for the next few years, and importantly give me the capital to develop the platform. We’ve been in Beta phase since launching the platform in May 2012 and we’ve taken into account all the feedback we’ve received – most notably the appetite users have for us to launch Cura as a smartphone app, which is not far away now.

Where did the idea for Cura come from?

Complete personal experience. I’m lucky enough to have a fantastic family around me and as a family we take care of my grandparents. We always made sure everything got done, however add to the mix organising a wedding and time became a real premium. Observing how much time it took to get the right people, in the right place, at the right time to do all the tasks that needed doing, I thought there must be a way to organise things more efficiently. I thought if I could find it, we could all spend more time doing what was really important – and that was being with my grandparents, so I decided to do some research.

I quickly found there were many people struggling on alone either because they were caring for someone or actually needed care themselves. I heard a whole bunch of reasons why people didn’t ask for help, ranging from “I don’t want to hassle people” to “it takes so long to phone around and ask for help, I’m better off struggling on alone.”

I thought wouldn’t it be great if there was an online tool, that was so simply to use, that could take advantage of that key question those around us often ask when we are in times of need – “let me know if there’s anything I can do to help”. Cura does just that.

Cura is a simple online platform that allows you to create a secure community to which you invite your friends and family and can then upload all the tasks you need help with. All community members can then see in real-time what needs doing and can quickly ‘take’ the tasks they can help with.

What does your typical day look like?

I use every spare moment I have to run Cura as I still work full time. As I wake up I take a look at my emails and respond to any that have arrived overnight and test the site to check all is functioning as it should. I then walk the dog and head off to work. Once back at home, I’m again responding to emails and cracking on with everything that’s involved with running a business – from accounting to marketing – there’s always something to do.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Being the sort of person who’s always looking for opportunities and ideas, the first thing I tend to do is talk the idea through with those around me. It’s easy to get carried away and become a little blinkered when you come up with an idea and a fresh perspective or two always helps. Once you’re settled on an idea, like Cura, you just need to start making steps towards your goals, and keep on stepping! It is really important to set goals from the beginning to give you the focus you need. You may contradict yourself as you change and you grow, and that’s OK, but always try to remain focused on what you’re trying to achieve, and why you’re trying to achieve it. There will be times when you’ll feel that things aren’t working or going as well as they should, but if you take a step back and remind yourself of what you’re trying to achieve you’ll soon get back on track.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

The fact that people around the globe are beginning to sit up and take notice of the global issues an aging population is bringing to us all. It’s great to see some really innovative solutions emerging to tackle what could become a global crisis. We really do have to work together to tackle this issue – not one Government or political party can come up with all the solutions – we’re in this together.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

My day job is an Internal Communications Manager. I loved my job from the moment I began my career in Internal Communications with Virgin Media, and still love it now, currently working for RWE npower and before that at logistics firm Wincanton. However I once spent a year at another company (which shall remain nameless) doing the same ‘day job’ I’d always done. However I hated it – the culture of the organisation was poor and my line management was directionless. It brought home to me just how important the culture of an organisation and the people you work with are – it’s not always about the money – if you enjoy what you do you will realise your goals a lot quicker.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Set goals and stay focused. I’m glued to my ‘to do’ list which is linked to the goals I’m trying to achieve. By having clear goals you can focus your efforts on the stuff that makes a real difference. It’s amazing how much more efficient this makes you. As an entrepreneur managing a start-up, funds and resources are tight and time is at a real premium. If you don’t have the ability to get maximum bang for your buck out of every £ and minute you put into the business you’ll struggle to even get the wheels turning.

What is one problem you encountered as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Don’t let a fear of failing stop you from pursuing your idea. Remember that it’s OK to make mistakes – just don’t make the same mistake twice.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

If you’re interested not only in profit but also in making a real difference to society then start thinking of innovative solutions to the problems faced by the elderly and their families. If you can add real value to their lives, and do things in the right way, you’re sure to be onto a winner.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?

That the potential crisis our aging population is posing to the world is no longer treated as a political football, but tackled head on by governments, political parties and society in general so we can find the long term, sustainable solutions needed.

Tell us a secret.

My favourite film is Seabiscuit – I seem to get a fair amount of grief for this (particularly from my wife)

What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?

Twitter – great for connecting with people on a real and personal level
snacktools – easy and cheap way to create professional online brochures, internet banners etc… – OK this is a shameless plug but it is pretty good.

Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?

@Unltd – an inspiration and source of support to social entrepreneurs the world over
@richardbranson starting my career in the Virgin Group this guy was, and is, a real inspiration to me – he could be for you too.
@Lord_Sugar another personal inspiration to me, a funny Twit and a Tottenham fan too which helps…

When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?

Have you ever taken part in Movember (it’s a great cause)? Well some of the moustaches my friends are currently growing has been the source of much laughter.

Who is your hero?

My Dad. I lost him to cancer when I was 14 but still think of him every day.

Why did you choose to start a business more focused on social good than big profits?

I’d rather be remembered for making a difference in other people’s lives than by the size of my bank balance. Even at such an early stage the positive feedback I’m receiving about is fantastic – we’re already creating positive change. I love what I do, and I think that’s the biggest part of it. If you enjoy what you’re doing you’re much more likely to succeed. I’m not averse to making a profit, but it’s not the primary driver for this project. That said Cura does need to generate an income to survive so adding revenue streams to the site is something we’re working on.

In the little spare time you have, what makes you tick?

Spending time with my friends and family, my wife Becky and our Springer Spaniel Oliver. You’ll also find me spending far too much time on the golf course (well that’s what Becky tells me anyway).


Cura’s Website:
Neil Burgess’s Email: [email protected]
Cura on Twitter: @CuraHQ
Cura on Facebook: