Q: Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself (personally and professionally)?
A: I am 39 years young, married with 2 children (a 3 year old and a 1 year old, so life is never boring). My wife (who I met on the internet!), children and I live in Hampstead, which is a beautiful part of London.
I have always been highly competitive in all facets of my life. Highlighting this fact, I was a manager of one of the most successful men’s amateur football teams in London for over 11 years. I’m also a very modern person, growing up around technology and communications, so I am fairly uncomfortable without my mobile phone being within arm’s reach at all times.
I am fair and understanding but won’t stop until I have earned enough so as to never have to say the words “we can’t afford that” to my family.
Q: How did you get started in this business?
A: I had a passion for business from the age of 17 when I started trading at car boot sales. I never had a ‘real’ job because after I left University I immediately knew I wanted to start my own business.
In 2001 I put a “Dragons Den” style advertisement in the Evening Standard newspaper, asking people with great ideas, but without the means to fund them, to send their concepts to me – and I would see if I could help turn them into profitable businesses.
I ended up writing a strong business plan for one of the ideas in particular and it won a £100,000 Loan (from a Government Scheme) to get me started.
Innzone was formed in 2002 with one product and has been trading successfully ever since. 200 products have now been sold both nationally and more recently internationally.
Q: Can you describe your customers / what type of customers do you have?
A: Our customers are Manufacturers and Suppliers of brands wanting to break into retail both in UK and around the World. These range from the largest players in food and drink (PepsiCo, Britvic, Perfetti Van Melle) to Health & Beauty brands to Pharmacy brands.
Q: What are some of your “keys to success” in building your customer base?
A: Our unique routes to the independent convenience market (our distribution now stretches to 20,000 retailers) and key contacts at senior level within Retail.
Q: Is there anything about your business that you feel makes it special?
A: We are the only company who actually picks up the phone and sell new brands to 20,000 retailers around the UK. This helps new suppliers launch in the UK and the knock on effect of this is felt internationally, when distributors abroad express interest in our product success stories to take into their territories.
Q: Where do you see your business in the next year? In the next five years? In the next ten years?
A: We expect our export business to double in revenue each year.
We anticipate becoming the leading route to market for both UK brands wanting to grow their presence internationally, and for international brands wanting to break into the notoriously difficult and fragmented UK retail market.