The founder of lighting brand Pooky reveals the secret of his success and what comes next

Natural charm and likeability can get you a long way in life, team that with some derring do, bright ideas and a sharp mind and you have many of the essential ingredients that combine to make a successful entrepreneur.

Rohan Blacker has all the above, though it has often been said that he doesn’t look much like a businessman.

He can do “suited and booted” but prefers a more relaxed look and, like many of us with bent follicles, his unruly curly hair lends itself more to nutty professor than entrepreneur and deal maker.

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He is most definitely not in the Alan Sugar mould, though he too likes to speak plainly and says, “my bullshitometer is set to zero”.

Rohan Blacker, founder of PookyRohan Blacker, founder of Pooky
Rohan Blacker, founder of Pooky

His marketing director Jodie Sanders describes him as “a remarkable person and a visionary” and “one of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs that nobody has heard of” and while she is just doing her job by promoting him, it sums him up nicely.

For the majority who have never heard of him, he is the charismatic founder of, an online lighting brand that has taken Britain by storm thanks to its great designs, lashings of colour and its mix and match approach, which allows customers to buy lamp bases and shades separately, thereby designing their own product with a range that allows a staggering 450,000 different combinations.

“Lighting is so important. It can affect mood and emotion and it is vital in creating atmosphere and ambience but I could see there wasn’t really a middle market,” says Rohan. “There were cheap lights and very expensive ones but nothing good in the middle.”

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Pooky, popular with interior designers and homemakers, has a new showroom at the homeware mecca that is Redbrick Mill in Batley, where you can see the wares in person before ordering online.

Cecilia wall light, £39, with fitting in antique brass, £97Cecilia wall light, £39, with fitting in antique brass, £97
Cecilia wall light, £39, with fitting in antique brass, £97

Coming up North to see it has been an excuse for the boss to revisit Yorkshire.

“I was brought up in Sussex but my late parents moved up to Yorkshire to live near Malton as my mother was partly brought up in the area.

"I used to enjoy visiting them there and I have thought about moving up to Yorkshire many times but Pooky HQ is just down the road from where I live in Gloucestershire so it wouldn’t be practical now,” says Rohan, whose baptism as an entrepreneur came after he quickly decided that being a matrimonial lawyer was not for him.

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“I was a slow reader and not quick enough to speed read those huge briefs and so I left law and fell in with some guys who were opening a restaurant,” he says.

Rechargeable lampsRechargeable lamps
Rechargeable lamps

He learnt a lot about business including the good, the bad and the ugly.

In the 1990’s, he came up with the idea for Deliverance, an early version of Deliveroo, where he cooked, sold and delivered top class meals. He and his business partner sold it in 2004.

He is keen to stress that along with successes, there were also failures along the way and he learned from them.

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Selling via the internet is nothing new to him. In 2005, he and his business partner came up with, the first sofa company that sold online. It became a hugely successful business.

Pooky base £108 + 1x shade £44Pooky base £108 + 1x shade £44
Pooky base £108 + 1x shade £44

“It was the early days of the web and my business partner and I had turned our back on catering and he suggested we look at sofas because they saw a gap in the market for selling them online and getting them to customers more quickly. No-one else was doing it.

“In those days the wait for a sofa once ordered was 12 weeks and we cut it to three and, because we could sell direct to customers, our sofas were half the price,” says Rohan.

“We wanted as the web address but it was already taken by an American company. Our first offer was £10,000 but they wanted £1m dollars for it. We got it for £100,000, which was a huge gamble.”

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It paid off and selling that business gave Rohan the funds to create Pooky. “I have always loved lighting. It’s a really important part of a home and now I am obsessed with it,” he says.

Selling online and allowing people to mix and match has been a winner, along with the prices he charges..

Around 60 per cent of Pooky products are made in India, which he visits regularly, and he says: “I feel a huge sense of responsibility for the people who work for us there as they rely on our business.”

As for the future, he is excited about rechargeable lights, which he has started to sell. This means that wall lights, table lamps and picture lights won’t require wiring in and table lamps will be portable.

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The wall lights requires two tiny screws to fit to the wall.and to recharge, you simply plug in using a USB.

It’s ten years since Rohan launched the business “making beautiful lights and selling them for not that much” and he’s celebrating it by expanding into America.

“It’s a bit of a gamble because there are lots of unknowns,” he says, adding that he destresses by playing guitar and banjo in a band and by planning the restoration of his latest buy, a houseboat.

What next? Who knows but he is still fizzing with energy and ideas and is still in love with Pooky.

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*You can see a Pooky lighting at Redbrick Mill, Batley and at​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​