Shed Simove is an Ideas Man, amongst producing Big Brother, he has become a serial entrepreneur producing ridiculous novelty items, masquerading as a schoolboy for a Channel 4 series and generally destroying the traditional image of an entrepreneur. Impact’s James Sanderson had a chat with him…
Do you think that becoming a student entrepreneur is a viable option, considering the current state of graduate recruitment?
Absolutely, it amazes me how the system expects you to emerge from university and like a fairy godmother, boom; you know what to do with the rest of your life. I would encourage entrepreneurialism at every stage; being straight out of university is particularly good, as the negative outlook of long-standing businessmen isn’t an influence. Fresh opportunities are always more apparent to graduates, as a student you can afford to take these risks as your overheads, such as family commitments are small. Life and business is a game and the trick of the game is to realise that everyone is winging it and that once you have a go at it yourself you suddenly adjust, avoid past mistakes and inevitably be successful, as long as you bloody do something.
I’ve heard that you have your own currency ‘the ego’, how’s it holding up at the moment?
It’s thriving. I am always interested by how the economy is actually a confidence trick, this is an experiment within the idea of perception and value, when we all believe the economy is doing well we’ll spend more money which will improve it, if we believe it is doing badly then we’ll spend less money worsening the economy, it’s a frightening cycle. I read about the game second life and how people were trading currency called linden dollars on eBay for real cash and thought I could replicate it. When I was younger in sixth form I saw an image about the great depression, which was a wheelbarrow full of cash with which to buy a loaf of bread- it got me thinking about the changing value of money and how it’s really a con. When you give me a tenner, you are giving me a promise, not truly ten pounds. I looked into the legalities and considering that gift-vouchers were almost a currency anyway, I found myself a printing press in brighton, designed it up with my ethos’s such as ‘tell someone you value them’ and I placed my family’s names within the pattern. One ego sells for at least 93p, which is a better exchange rate than the Euro. My Head and Tails coin [a coin with his face on one side and Shed’s arse on the other] sells for about £8.
What’s your opinion on business coaches, aren’t they all just a bit shit?
[Laughter] I haven’t had much experience but there is definitely value in support, a lot of life is about believing in yourself and about being with people who believe in you. I use this phrase ‘negnet’, a negative magnet. These are the people who you meet and you say Shed, Shed! – I have this great idea, for a new magazine about plastering. If I show even a shred of negative emotion, such as an eyebrow squint or even telling them that it’s a bad idea- that’s being a ‘negnet’ and commiting the most hainus crime. You need to surround yourself with ‘posnets’.
Support is important, but there is no substitute for doing it yourself. In the same light though, I think business mentoring is the way forward, anyone who is mentoring should give some good guidance, and you can filter the shit. Study successful companies and people, copy their systems and behaviour, add your own USP and suddenly you have something great.
What repercussions came of your ‘Back to School’ documentary stunt?
All I can tell you is facts; I lost £200,000 and was never offered another production by any other broadcasters. Doing the documentary undercover and pretending to be a 16 year old for 9 weeks was one of the hardest things that I had ever done. It proved to me that I had the willpower to do anything, so Everest, piece of piss, launching a novelty toy, hard but I can do it. It gave me an almost legendary status, which lead to my appointment as an executive on Big Brother.
When producing Big Brother, did you ever feel exploitative at all?
You could say that they are exploiting us; some of them go on to achieve a really exciting lifestyle and plenty of cash. It opens up a world to them, one that they didn’t have before. Some do it because they crave material wealth and some do it because they want an adventure. We are very careful about who we pick. Many people don’t get into the house because we believe that they can’t mentally handle the process. Generally, we look for people who are robust and will provide an interesting storyline.
Can you see celebs having a shit in the toilet?
In Celeb BB, you can’t, we have cameras everywhere for their safety and even in the real version the monitor for the toilet is very small. The director would never cut up the toilet; there are microphones inside though!