Laurie Timpson is not your average entrepreneur. If there even is such a thing.

Laurie Thompson spent five years as an officer in the Scots Guards and went onto set up emergency relief programmes in southern Sudan and Ethiopia, clearing landmines for the HALO Trust in Mozambique, Afghanistan and Cambodia. He studied at the University of Cape Town, looked for gold in Liberia and ran a power station in Nairobia. In 2014, he returned to England to set up Savernake Knives with Philip Shaw.

Savernake Knives makes both customized and tailor-made knives with a hollow-ground blade which takes weight away from the blade allowing an unparalleled cutting edge. He now lives off the grid in the middle of the Savernake forest with his wife and baby boy. Here Laurie talks through his business journey setting up Savernake Knives and launching the business online in 2017.

I came up with the idea… over dinner one night. We talked about having a one-off bespoke stainless steel knife made, only to discover that it would require about five different firms, six months and several thousand pounds. We thought we could do better than that, and so began three years of R&D [Research & Development]. We started with no baggage and no preconceptions. We were simply trying to make the very best knife possible.

The biggest challenge is… overcoming the prolific half-truths, marketing angles and disingenuous baloney that most (but certainly not all) knife-makers have fed cooks and chefs over the years. Making a really good knife isn’t rocket science, but it’s not easy either. We see many makers and manufacturers who have instead retreated behind flim-flam and hokum, so making our proposition occasionally difficult to establish.

The average day is spent… making knives, writing about knives, photographing knives, developing knives, taking orders for knives, posting knives. That sort of thing.

The team consists of... three knifemakers wearing a huge number of different hats.

Our/my favourite quote… ‘This too shall pass” as Abraham Lincoln described it. How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!

I am where I am today because of… antipathy towards the mundane.

We are who we are because… we spent most of our professional lives in the less salubrious parts of the developing world, where you quickly learn that if you need something done you’re likely going to have to do it yourself. By extension, there’s little that you can’t do if you put your mind to it.

The best advice I've been given... “Selection and Maintenance of the Aim.”

In five years we’d like to be… be making the best chef’s knives in the world, with people battering down our door to lay their hands on one.

The thing no one ever tells you about running your own business online... is we think by now everyone’s told us everything about four times. The tricky bit is figuring out what’s actually useful and important.

Our biggest mistake and what it taught us… Every day we make mistakes, some more significant than others, but none stand out as especially horrific (thus far). We have all learned that mistakes will happen, so when they do, put a system in place to minimise the same one happening again and then get on.

What apps do you use to be more productive... Dropbox and Instagram are the only real apps we use. Otherwise we just the usual suspects of CAD/CAM programmes and lots of spreadsheets.

The most rewarding experience we’ve had to date… is being taken seriously by working chefs at the very top of their game.

The websites I most frequently use are...eBay for hunting down elusive bits of figured hardwood. Otherwise we talk to and meet up with everyone who supplies, advises or works with us.

The podcasts I like to listen to are… What are podcasts?

February 2018