HOW IT BEGAN
Have you ever wondered why some people or firms are so successful? That when you walk down a beautiful street with houses lit up like a Christmas tree and you glimpse through the windows at the extraordinary people, plush decor and beautiful cars sat on the driveway, you think to yourself, “ What do they do for a living, how does anyone make that sort of money and why can’t I!”
I guess we’ve all been there and from our perspective at Hawk and Peddle both Melissa and I have voiced those very thoughts.
At any time in one’s life there are numerous chance meetings and something either happens or its potential just slips away without you even knowing. Our chance meeting was at one of the leading IT Service companies in the UK. We had been employed to do quite specialised jobs but on the same programme of work. David as a Programme Manager and Melissa as the Test Manager. Our paths crossed early in the programme and it helped that we sat next to one another. We also sat with another Programme Manager who made us laugh so much with his fantastic sense of humour, tall tales and constant cracking of jokes. The environment we had been thrust into was an office located inside the bowels of a warehouse building. There were no windows and that meant no natural daylight, it was very oppressive and made everyone quite edgy. We spent a lot of time together, Chris and David preparing the team for a deployment and Melissa trying to implement a testing process into a slap-dash and chaotic method of software delivery.
We occasionally like to reminisce about those times and how it started; Chris on one side with his geezer Essex accent and constant joke telling at every chance possible but with the most positive attitude, “if you’re not earning then you should be learning, use every moment to progress yourself and don’t stagnate.” David, sat in the middle with his slightly reserved approach but would “eff and jeff”, once you got to know him and Melissa, a tall, tough Aussie and not prepared to take any kind of rubbish.
We were regaled by Chris daily as to his latest venture outside of any actual work, like someone who was on a stepping stone; a dynamic guy who had boundless amounts of energy and wanted to get things done, which inspired Melissa and David to schedule a weekly meeting for a quick half hour ‘What if’ session. There had to be something better that what we were doing at that time.
AN IDEA FORMED – The First Version
So, here’s where the idea began. Sitting in one of our ‘What if’ sessions, David looked across the desk at Melissa and said- ‘OK, you are smart, capable and ambitious but not focused on a single idea.’ …and there lay our first lesson and our understanding of what makes success. Focus on what matters and be very clear on your objectives. We pitched a couple of ideas around and eventually decided that this one had legs.
In 2008 the dreaded economic crash impacted David greatly. Whilst working at the DVLA in Swansea as a jobbing contractor over a 2-week period he was told that they were to extend his contract for a year and a week later they were letting him go. A tough time ensued as David was out of work for nine months straight. He applied for hundreds of jobs per week without success and began to doubt that contract employment was going to work out for him and needed to find a way of earning some money. He had an eBay account and a techno-phobic set of parents-in-law who wanted to get rid of their furniture and wanted to make a couple of bucks; therefore, he thought he could focus on a reselling business using eBay.
It wouldn’t be difficult, the platform was there, he could create some T&C’s and trial his approach in a small geographical area. He also had his eye on the bigger picture, a franchise and so the idea of the man with the suitcase was born. Very simply, David wanted to create a business to sell goods using a platform. He wasn’t really interested in selling the products even though that was the primary element of the business. He was more interested in selling the service, the thing that could be repeated and if he provided all the know-how, prove it worked he would be able to sell the idea.
Melissa liked this and and began to source the start-up requirements to include as a package for each franchise which was basically the contents of the suitcase. She also found every online solution that we needed to help us do everything in the cloud, moving directly into the 21
THE IDEA GAINS MOMENTUM – The Next Version
We realised that there may be something amiss with how we controlled our distribution network and sales areas. Many meetings later and quite a bit of head scratching and a very rocky patch where we both nearly threw in the towel we finally saw it through. You see, our biggest challenge apart from the business idea was time and how much of that we could invest to this project. We both had demanding jobs, families and commitments and that hasn’t stopped to this day. It still rubs up against the idea of us being our own bosses full time. Progress has been slow, yet we struggled on, month after month, year after year slowly developing our idea, the platform and shaping our service to be what it has eventually become today. We laugh about those meetings now, so naive in the idea that we could just throw up a platform, advertise and hey-presto it would work.
Initially we started our site using Wix, just to build the framework, then we moved over to WordPress. The site progressed, and the ideas came with a mountain of back-end processes to support what we were doing. We spent time discussing our dreams: Melissa’s “I want to make £30 million so I can do what I want in life” and David’s “I want to retire on my yacht or to be holding a business meeting with you from Barbados, or having a driver whisk me into the London office, a few drinks, sign the deal and away I go again”.
How realistic are those ideas, unfortunately they are just fantasies and its hard work launching a new business, but you need to have something to reach for, otherwise there’s really no point in doing it. Knowing what your motivation is, will keep you going, even in the darkest of days.
HERE WE ARE TODAY – The Current Version
Four years on, a full revamp of the platform, ISP and site, we now believe we have the nucleus of a business and are confident that we can come to market and sell that idea. We have a wonderful platform with a worldwide eCommerce solution embedded with a sophisticated interface. Bolted on the end is the mammoth PayPal who manages our financial transactions to ensure security for each supplier and customer. If we were just running an eCommerce solution this would be enough; nice looking, seamless integrations and secure, but our model is the marketplace and to provide a platform for not just one vendor but many. We overcame this challenge with the multi-platform plugin Dokan which provides us with the security and features we needed to separate permissions for each seller and customer.
AND THIS IS WHERE WE ARE HEADING…
Now, this is possibly a little tricky, we have an idea, but as most businesses know what you start out with you might not always get or circumstances may take you in a direction that you weren’t expecting.
We hope you enjoyed this article and can see where we have come from and where we plan to go. We look forward to you joining us on the Hawk and Peddle journey.