Interview: Richard Dana CA, Doris & Dicky
An interview with Richard Dana CA, co-founder of budget boutique hotel service Doris & Dicky.
When did you qualify as a CA and who did you train with?
I trained with Ernst & Young in London and qualified in 2007.
Brief career history
I spent three years working for E&Y in London in restructuring. I then moved to the restructuring team in E&Y’s Melbourne office for four years before briefly returning to the London office in 2011. I then joined Thomas Cook Group as head of cash and working capital. Last year I left to co-found Doris & Dicky with my, now, fiancée.
What is Doris & Dicky and how did you get the idea for the business?
Doris & Dicky offers a handpicked collection of the best boutique hotels around the world for £100 a night or less. The idea for the business came from our own experiences – there was so much choice available when looking to book a hotel it was overwhelming. The luxury end of the market was fully served but there was nothing focused on the middle market. I was working at Thomas Cook at the time and had a good insight into the travel market, so I felt confident enough to make the move.
What does your role involve?
It’s a bit of everything. I spend a lot of time dealing with our developers and web designers and also identifying new hotels that meet our requirements: small, independent hotels with distinct charm for less than £100 per night. We have a team of expert travel writers who help us to review our hotels and destinations. Then, of course, we are dealing with our customers and promoting the business.
What’s the best thing about running your own business?
I love travel, so this is my dream job. Each day I am able to define exactly what I want to do and then go and do it. There are no meetings or approvals required, I can just get on with finding the best hotels in the world and ensuring that our customers enjoy them.
…and the worst?
We had a day when the website went down due to a technical issue. We resolved it, but it was incredibly stressful.
Proudest moment so far?
Getting our first booking at Doris & Dicky.
What’s your next challenge?
The initial response has been great. We now need to work out what we are going to focus on during the next year. For example, there’s been quite a bit of interest in the business from corporate travel clients – which was not something we had anticipated. We also need to see if self-catering options would work for us alongside hotels.
What do you do to relax?
I enjoy swimming and recently swam from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight. I am also on the board of a social enterprise that promotes sustainable food production across London.
How has your training as a CA helped prepare you for this role?
The CA training has been invaluable. Prior to Doris & Dicky I had never really been involved in running any marketing or advertising campaigns, but my analytical background has been useful when it comes to dealing with Facebook or Google advertising, where it’s all about the numbers.
What advice would you give for a CA looking to pursue this career route?
The hardest part was deciding to leave my corporate job. If you have an idea and still think it’s a good one six months later, go for it. You’ll regret more not having tried, than having tried and then failed. What’s the worst that can happen?