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Starling Portrait Series – Cornelius Creative

More often than not, business is about looking at how things have been done before and having the courage and imagination to reinvent the rules. That’s what Anne Boden did when she created Starling Bank, a digital bank for personal and business current accounts. Starling was born out of her determination to give customers control over their money and provide a real alternative to the banks of the past. Starling strives to be fast, friendly and supportive – just like a murmuration of starling birds.

In this series, we’ll be shining a light on other Great British entrepreneurs who, just like Anne, are pioneers of change.

This month’s portrait series features Starling customer Simon Cornelius, founder of Cornelius Creative. Cornelius Creative is a product development company combining industrial design, engineering and marketing, to help businesses grow. With the mission to turn creative ideas into commercially successful; taking their clients on a seamless journey to achieve their goals. 

Many people have a business idea, yet they struggle when it comes to bringing them to life and achieving what they want with their idea – but with the help of Cornelius Creative, brands are able to bring their ideas to life and thrive within their industry. 

From concept design, product creation, packaging design, to product launch, and everything in between – Cornelius Creative makes the brand launch journey as smooth sailing as can be.

The Love Story 

In 2012 founders Simon and Lucy were brought together when working at a shower manufacturing company, both working on opposite ends of the business, with Simon in R&D and Lucy in Marketing, they quickly noticed that things weren’t running too smoothly – departments weren’t working together, and conflicts were rife. As years went on Simon and Lucy solved this problem, as their relationship got closer, so did the departments, and Simon ultimately made a move over to Product Management before later becoming a Marketer. Bridging the gap between R&D and Marketing, Simon was able to understand the technical composition of a product, while also understanding the audience and how to market to them – which is where the idea of Cornelius Creative was born. 

The birth of Simon and Lucy’s first child in 2019 was what encouraged them to make the idea of Cornelius Creative a reality after commuting issues took its toll on the young family. 

“We knew that there were very few companies offering this holistic service, and from our experience working for manufacturers, we knew it was an area that clients would need help with.”

Bringing the idea to life 

At the beginning of 2020, Simon left his job and this is where Cornelius Creative was born.

At this point, they had contracts lined up, clients in discussion, and things were full steam ahead for them – until the unexpected happened. Just six days into their new businesses launch the UK was sent into a national lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, which would be a struggle for any business, let alone a brand new one. 

“Businesses shut down; staff were sent home to be furloughed, and our contracts got cancelled overnight. It was a disaster. Now we had zero income, a hungry baby to feed, and savings that would only last a few months. But there was no time to mope, we had work to do.”

To fight back against what could have been detrimental to them, they continued to build the brand, and its mission and values. Due to this, work started to come in as companies opened back up and gained the confidence to invest in new product development. 

“Each month we signed more clients until we reached a point where the work was too much for two of us and we brought in people who aligned with our values.” 

Cornelius Creative is now in its second year of business, and what a successful two years they have been, and all thanks to Simons and Lucy’s commitment and belief in their business. 

We caught up with Simon to get some more insight into how their business fared during the pandemic and what’s what we can expect in the future from Cornelius Creative; 

Tackling the pandemic 

“I founded the business in March 2020; it was incorporated six days before the first national lockdown, so I’ve only really known running a business during the pandemic! It was certainly difficult, to begin with; I’d left a well-paid job at the start of 2020, raring to launch my business, and when the reality of Covid set in, my clients’ businesses were shutting down and sending staff home on furlough – all of my contracts were cancelled or paused – it was a disaster. But I used the time I gained to work on my branding, messaging and to build a website, and soon the clients started to come on board, and in February 2021 we were recognised by Theo Paphitis and won a Small Business Sunday award. 

The last two years have truly been a rollercoaster, but the company continues to grow and it’s a really exciting time for us.”

The USP

“What we offer to clients is quite unique compared to our competitors; we are product specialists who blend expertise in both product development, design and marketing. We also remain true to our five company values – authentic, respectful, innovative, supportive and passionate – to ensure that everyone we work with always gets the same level of expected service.”

The future of Cornelius Creative 

“Our immediate plans are to relaunch our website in Q2 and review the services we are providing our clients to see what gaps we can fill.

Longer-term, our aim is to continue to grow the business; to build a bigger team who can ultimately provide a better level of service to our clients. We want to be known as the go-to product specialists!”

For more information on Cornelius Creative, visit their website here.