Interviews

Prezola: The co-founding couple cashing in on customers tying the knot

7 min read

30 August 2018

We've all been there, what do you buy as a wedding gift for the happy couple? Well, this co-founding couple has constructed the perfect platform to find the ideal present.

Initially launched as an alternative to John Lewis, Prezola founders Dom and Ali Beaven set up a wedding gift list company where couples can choose from 50,000 products supplied by over 500 retail brands.

With the success of Prezola, the duo has since founded gettingmarried.co.uk, where couples can quickly and easily create a personalised wedding website as a platform for their guest communication and RSVPs.

Real Business finds out how this couple, who met at school, has built an empire on people tieing the knot.

When was the business founded?

The idea came on Ali’s birthday in 2008, but it took a couple of years for the idea to really come together and for us to quit our jobs. We founded the company in 2010 and Prezola launched on Valentine’s Day in 2012.

We acquired gettingmarried.co.uk in January 2016 as an obvious extension to Prezola. Wedding guests can now RSVP and buy a gift all in one go.

What is the company’s turnover?

We’ll hit £15m this year (2018), up from £10m in 2017.

How many employees are there?

50, split across Prezola HQ in the centre of Bath and our distribution centre in Wiltshire. Gettingmarried.co.uk is based in Wales.

How did you both meet?

We met at school! It took a few years to get our act together and become a couple and we married in 1995. We now have two kids, Harrison and Eleanor, who are 19 and 16.

What inspired you to start a business together?

Prezola is the result of Ali receiving some unusual birthday presents and thinking it would be a good idea if people could add their favourite things from their favourite shops to one gift list to share with family and friends. We registered the name that night, meaning that Ali and Prezola share a birthday.

We had always wanted to work together, but with Ali being an interior designer and me being a commercial and tech guy, it seemed unlikely. At Prezola, those two skill sets come together perfectly.

What specific roles do you both have?

With her background in interior design, Ali is Creative Director and leads the curation of our products and brands. Prezola has a definite, modern style which comes directly from Ali and she spends her days meeting brands, choosing products to list, and directing photo shoots.

I’m CEO and lead the commercial and technical sides of the business. These days we have a great team around us, including a CFO, CTO, Operations Director, and Marketing Director as well as our new Chairman, former Amazon and eBay Operations Director (and fellow entrepreneur) David Kelly.

How do you separate work from your personal life?

We don’t. Much like me, Prezola is our third child; the naughty one that plays up a bit but is great fun and everyone loves.

We accepted long ago that you can’t separate your work and personal lives when you’re married and running a business together. So, we make plenty of time to relax and make sure we get lots of family downtime together.

Lots of holidays, even if they’re just a quick weekend away. And plenty of time with friends and family.

Do you have any rules to leave work at work?

On holiday we limit ourselves to a strict diet of one hour of emails per day. We find that knowing what’s going on at work helps us relax for the rest of the time. Oh. And never discuss work in bed!

What are your individual strengths?

We’ve developed a number of houses over the years with a good degree of success.

I know not to interfere with all of the beautiful details that bring the project together while Ali is happy to leave the budgets, builders, and spreadsheets to me. We’ve applied that mantra to Prezola and it works very well.

What’s been your biggest business achievement to date?

Prezola doing its first million pounds in revenue was big. Our business is very predictable, and I’d forecast that moment down to a one-hour window.

We were in the pub with our best friends (and angel investors) when it happened, and we watched the payment gateway tick over the million mark while drinking champagne.

Prezola winning Best Gift List at The British Wedding Awards a year after we launched was a huge moment too. We’ve won it four times since.

What is the hardest part of working together?

You risk becoming boring; to each other and your friends. It’s really important to have other things

going on as well as some separate friends, so you have other things to talk about and do.

Ali and I have just come back from separate holidays, which may seem odd to some: Ali in Majorca with girlfriends; and me in Toronto with my brother and sister. Then we’ll all head off again with the kids in the summer.

What is the best part of running a business together?

The implicit trust you have in your co-founder. There hasn’t been a single moment of politics or game playing at Prezola, which I’ve experienced in other businesses. That inbuilt telepathy between married couples can help at Board meetings too!

What celebrity couple are you most like?

Daniel Craig & Rachel Weisz meets Richard & Judy.