Meet The Man Behind XOO

Piers Ridyard is the man behind the first line of XOO wearables that are fashionable, adaptable and functional with “the future in mind”.

What was your first business idea and what did you do with it?

First true business idea? Pennywatch – when I was 14 (2004). Idea was simple: instead of taking the change from a shop, the shop would give you the option to add the change at the till to your pennywatch account. This meant that all the coppers and small change that you did not want to have in your pocket etc could be saved, and would also save the shops/supermarkets a lot of money in change services from banks.

Went as far as speaking with the loyalty card providers but ran into issues due to banking regulation in holding deposits.

First successful business I was involved in was in the first year of University. Called Litescape, myself and a few friends created the worlds largest volumetric 3D display

What do you wish you knew before you started your first business

“You don’t need permission to start a business.”

What did you learn from the worst boss you ever had? 

Haven’t really had a bad boss. From the worst person I have ever had to work with though? Persistence. Persistence almost always wins out. No is not an end, just a temporary set back. Keep going. If you can care about getting a yes more than the other person can care about giving you a no, you will get what you want. Just try not to be an asshole when you are doing it.

Who do you admire most?

Elon Musk. Dreaming big is important, it pushes us forwards. Space X, Tesla, hyperloop. They are all ambitious, crazy and may one day prove to be historically piviotal. You can never tell without the benefit of hindsight.

What did you learn from your biggest failure?

It’s not failure, just a way it didn’t work. Don’t do it again and make sure the learning is worth the cost.

How do you find inspiration?

By reading about new things. I love new tech, and it always gets my mind racing.

What was the best piece of advice you ever got? The worst?

Best – “Cash is king”. Doesn’t matter how good your ideas are, if you can’t pay the bills it’s still game over. Lesson I continually learn in more and more complex ways as we scale.

Worst – “Don’t ask people what they want”. This is a hard one to get right as it is nuanced and I won’t pretend that I have the answer to this. People often point to Steve Jobs and say – he didn’t listen to people, he told people what they wanted. This is not strictly true. He saw what was wrong with devices on the market, and was relentless in the pursuit of making them easier to use and aesthetically pleasing. He had a vision, but it was informed by the problems he had, and saw others having with the devices that were available, and worked to make them better, both UX wise and visually.

Similarly with the (almost certainly fictitious) “If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse.” – Ford. That is your customer telling you something very valuable: “I want a faster way to travel” – the advice is framed in terms they understand, but it gets the root of the underlying market desire.

What’s your favourite quote?

“Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in”. – Bill Bradley

What is your biggest pet peeve? 

Phone battery!

What do you think is the most important innovation of your lifetime thus far?


Piers Ridyard is Manchester based CEO of Nifty Drives. Follow him @PiersRidyard.