Role and company:CEO, PetShopBowl.co.uk
Employee numbers:Including apprentices, nine.
Growth forecast for the next three years:We plan to maintain a 100 per cent growth rate year on year for the next three years.
In under 50 words, what makes your business distinctive in its marketplace:PetShopBowl.co.uk offers the pet parents of Britain huge savings on their pet’s favourite foods & supplies. Uniquely, we also offer an auto delivery service called Bottomless Bowl which allows Pet Parents to choose the food they like and then set the delivery frequency so they need never worry about buying or carrying heavy pet food again!
What’s the big vision for your business?Through an innovative use of technology we have created Bottomless Bowl, our auto delivery service that eliminates the lifetime burden and repetitive chore of buying pet food. We plan to continue revolutionising the out-dated pet industry by offering PetShopBowl.co.uk customers an unparalleled shopping and customer experience, focusing on price, service and reliability.
Biggest career setback and what you learned from it:Both of us were made redundant in the heart of the recession. This was a huge blow and threw me off track for some time. I was fortunate to have come across the Prince’s Trust Business Program that provided the support and guidance for us to set up PetShopBowl.co.uk. The key learning lesson from that experience was that you cannot predict or control certain events in life. By focussing on a positive outlook you can turn that seemingly bad situation into a positive driver, to reassess personal goals and priorities and to gain greater focus and happiness. I would never have predicted I would have gone from working in the city to running one of the UK’s largest online pet shops! Setting up PetShopBowl.co.uk has provided some of the happiest years of my life and in that respect I am grateful for losing my job.
What makes you mad in business today?Lack of customer service in many UK companies today. As a consumer and as a business customer I have come across many companies where the customer service is virtually none existent. There seems to be a trend, particularly with bigger companies, making customer service less and less a priority. At PetShopbowl.co.uk we are passionate to lead by example and always ask ourselves “how would our parents like to be treated” (since all PetShopBowl customers are pet parents). We invest a lot of time and money in offering the very best customer service we can.
What will be the biggest change in your market in the next three years?The increasing trend of an inseparable bond with pets is set to grow even stronger in the next few years. Pet food has remained recession proof, with the market growing over the last few years – a testament to the fact that people in the UK really do love their pets. This has created several changes in the industry such as people wanting the very best for their pets, improving their health and prolonging their lives as much as possible. An exciting opportunity for PetShopBowl.co.uk is to be at the forefront of that change, providing advice to pet owners on good pet nutrition and offering good quality pet foods without breaking the bank!
Can businesses in your sector/industry access the finance they need to grow? If not, what can be done to improve things?Starting an online retailer requires a strong initial investment that we found incredibly difficult. When we started PetShopBowl, both of us had been made redundant and without full time employment, the banks found it difficult to lend to us. We also didn’t have the funds personally to be able to raise the capital required. Eventually, we took the idea to the Prince’s Trust who relented and gave us a £5,000 start up grant. I think there is adequate help and resources currently available, particularly with the growth in popularity of funding sources such as crowd funding, small business bank loans and organisations dedicated to helping startups. The lessons we learnt from not having much money have stayed with us and as a result make our business stronger today.
How would others describe your leadership style?Firm but friendly. I am a believer in collaborations and I am always interested to hear other people’s ideas and perspectives. I am also a leader that lives by the principle that a job shouldn’t be a bore. If it is then you’re in the wrong job. I openly encourage new employees to find the answer to this question as soon as possible.
Your biggest personal extravagance?A 32” pc monitor. I love being able to see an entire website on one screen without having to scroll down. This, coupled with my love for online shopping, makes my computer screen my favourite purchase.
You’ve got two minutes with the prime minister. Tell him how best to set the UK’s independent, entrepreneurial businesses free to prosper:Reduce and provide a sliding scale for business rates for start-ups in the first three to five years of business (so it is not just dependent on floor size). Business rates are disproportionally high compared to other startup business costs. Encourage and provide incentives for more inter-business collaboration. In order for the UK to become a digital leader, UK businesses need to collaborate more by sharing business resources, advice and cost efficiencies. I am not suggesting rival competitors collaborate but there are a lot of benefits to be gained for ecommerce businesses to work together, despite being in different sectors.
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