Startup Salon with Fiaz Iqbal, CEO of Cult Furniture, the designer furniture creators.

Self-belief, hard work and luck. That’s the recipe behind Fiaz Iqbal’s successful career. He is CEO of Cult Furniture where he employs a team of 90 and makes it his mission to create designer furniture, lighting and homeware that is accessible to everyone. Here, Fiaz looks back at his business journey and the best advice he has been given.

I came up with the idea when… I was following a design brief and sourcing new furniture for one of my new bar openings in London. I was after a particular design (a classic designer chair). Not only did it cost £300 per chair but it was also sold out everywhere. Bars and restaurants need furniture but back in 2009, designer furniture was nowhere near as accessible to everyone. That’s when I decided to launch Cult Furniture, as a way to make designer furniture accessible to all.

The biggest challenge is… building the brand in a highly competitive space.

The average day is spent… responding to emails. I get a lot of them, especially as I have several businesses in my portfolio. I then spend the rest of the day in meetings, resolving issues and looking for new ways to push the businesses forward. I also have a strong input into our new designs. Any spare time I have, I spend researching and looking for new design inspiration.

The team consists of... a group of talented and motivated individuals who are passionate about furniture and interior design. Cult Furniture has grown to a team of 90 staff now across our head office, showroom and warehouse.

My favourite quote… I have a couple; “If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door,” Milton Berle. “If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything,” Mark Twain.

I am where I am today because… of self-belief, hard work and a little luck. I’ve been fortunate enough to have launched a series of successful businesses.

I am who I am because of... my parents, who from an early age showed me the importance of working hard work and striving to be better.

The best advice I've been given… Always believe in yourself, never look back and regret, always learn from your mistakes because if you keep believing and trying, anything can happen.

In five years I’d like to be… one of the leading European homeware brands and hopefully taking more of a back seat in the business.

The thing no one ever tells you about running your own business online... How addictive it can become, I very rarely switch off. Also you are at the mercy of technology. Like most online businesses, we’ve experienced an array of unforeseen technical issues and are likely to experience more in the future. Keeping a calm head and hiring the right expertise has helped us deal with these situations more effectively.

Our biggest mistake and what it taught us… I would say, just trying to do too many things at once. There’s so many things you can do to grow your business but this doesn’t mean you should try and do them all!

What apps do you use to be more productive… Google Docs, Help Scout, Dropbox and Teamwork are essential to my businesses.

The most rewarding experience we’ve had to date... Creating our first in-house designed range, the Moda Collection. This culminated from years of hard work and is now our most successful furniture range.

The websites I most frequently use are... Mostly work-related include Google, WGSN, Dezeen, Pinterest, Architonic,

The podcasts I like to listen to are... The Joe Rogan Experience; a long form, in-depth conversation with the best guests from the comedy world, the sports world, the science world and everything between - this show has something for everyone.

March 2018