A lot has happened to LOVEFiLM since they picked up their Growing Business Award in 2009. We spoke to MD Jim Buckle about innovation, funding and the importance of being passionate about what you you do.LOVEFiLM has become a household name for film friends in the UK. This year the company announced its new support of high-definition streaming on PC, Mac, Xbox and certain smart TVs, and made the move from sole industry disruptor to part of global giant Amazon. All this - and more - happened since managing director Jim Buckle picked up the Company of the Year award at the Growing Business Awards 2009. We caught up with him today.
How has LOVEFiLM made the most effect on the electronic commerce landscape?
In the early days, we transformed how DVDs were rented in the UK, giving customers more choice, better value for money and greater convenience. Now we are taking that a step further, allowing customers to have instant access to a fantastic range of films and TV series.
In a nutshell, what makes you stand out?
Our passion for what we do. We are passionate about our customers and we are passionate about movies and TV.
LOVEFiLM won the Company of the Year award at the Growing Business Awards 2009. What's your opinion on the support we give to young businesses in the UK today? Are we doing enough? What would you change?
I often find myself introducing entrepreneurs to potential sources of finance, such as venture capital funds, banks and angel investors. There’s no easy way to find out about how you raise capital – not just where to go, but what a potential investor or lender will want to know about your business and how best to present that information to them. As an aside, I am a big fan of what Telefonica/ O2 are doing with their Wayra initiative – its great to see a large corporate working with entrepreneurs in that way.
You've played your part in disrupting the electronic commerce industry. What role does innovation still play at LOVEFiLM? Would you say that you are able to maintain the spirit and drive of a start-up, even as the established business that you are now?
We are now part of Amazon, so we aren’t just an established business, we are part of a massive global business. Innovation is vital to LOVEFiLM and there are few companies more innovative than Amazon. We are in one of the most fast-moving and competitive sectors around, so we need to be continually innovating. All businesses must continue to innovate or eventually they die. What is great about Amazon is that they take a long term view, and so they are prepared to invest and innovate in things that may not give an immediate return.
What's the big vision for LOVEFiLM at the moment? Where do you want to be?
Our vision is the same as it always has been: to provide movies and TV series to our customers, with the best possible combination of value, choice and convenience.
What was your biggest career setback and what did you learn from it?
Having spent 13 years in large organisations, I left Dell in 2001 to join a very early stage, pre-revenue business in the week before 9/11. We didn’t get the venture capital funding we were expecting and we had to close down six months later. I had a year or so after that "in the wilderness", looking for a permanent job which at the time didn’t feel great, but if I hadn’t made that leap, I probably wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now. When you have closed a business and sent everyone home, there’s not much worse that can happen in your working life, so its given me great resilience.
What makes you mad in business today?
I hate poor customer service.
What will be the biggest change in the video streaming market in the next three years?
Who knows. That’s what makes it interesting and challenging.
If a young entrepreneur, ambitious to drive his/her business to the next level, would ask you for one piece of advice, what would you tell them?
Listen to your customers and prospective customers and focus on meeting their needs in a way which is better than the competition.
Who will be the next Company of the Year?
Nominations are now open for the 2012 Growing Business Awards, in association with Lloyds Bank. We're looking for entries from "future champion" businesses and individuals across ten categories. Created by Real Business and the CBI, the Growing Business Awards are the most established recognition of UK entrepreneurial achievement. The awards are also supported by Land Rover, the Financial Mail, Spring Law, Cass Business School, Your Business Your Future, Business Voice, Professional Engineering, and bdaily. As well as huge prestige and coverage, a group of successful candidates will also be invited to an exclusive "high-performance day" at McLaren Racing, as well as joining a delegation at the 2012 CBI Annual Conference. Nominations close on September 21.
Find out more about the Growing Business Awards online, or contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 0207 045 7600.