Buyometric: Paul Fisher
The discount deal provider on choosing alliance over investment – and why recruiting a web developer is like finding a needle in a haystack
Tell us what your business does:
Buyometric matches time-limited daily deals and flash sales with the people who want to see them.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
I love the special offers that you can find through services like Groupon and Living Social, but started to get frustrated with the amount of cellulite and liposuction deals that cluttered up my inbox every morning. At the time I’d been developing a jobs website that filtered positions according to a user’s fine-grained preferences and thought the technology would work well to help me sort my daily deals.
How did you know there was a market for it?
Initially I developed the site for my own use and it worked brilliantly. I kept it to myself for about a month, then told a few friends – who became avid users. It was clear that this was something that people could use on a larger scale. From day one the concept has been about delivering the right deals to the right people. What started as a simple categorisation system now uses a whole range of signals to determine whether to present an offer to a user – including analysis of past behaviour. It keeps improving over time.
What were you doing before starting up?
I’m a self-taught web developer, having graduated from university with a Psychology degree. Before Buyometric I was part of a small team working on another start-up. We were struggling to gain traction, so I was doing a lot of freelance web development work to get by.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
I’ve never considered any other way of life! Whether it’s been working on start-up businesses or working as a freelance developer, I’ve never really considered working for someone else.
What planning did you do before you started up?
Where possible, I’d advise against too much planning. It stops you from getting on with the job.
I decided to create a rough product first and put it out there. The reaction I got was all the research I needed. My previous start-up was meticulously planned but never gained traction with its potential customers – meaning we wasted all that planning time on a dead-end product.
How did you raise the money?
We knew that if Buyometric had users, it would generate revenue. So instead of exchanging equity for cash, we sought out a partner with marketing muscle and a large existing user base. We partnered with Fubra, the owner of PetrolPrices.com, and gave a share of our company in return for access to their three million price-sensitive subscribers – and help with marketing to them.
What is your current turnover? £200,000
Where is your business based?
Initially our small team worked remotely from our own homes, then we started taking up free trials in serviced offices around London – until we were asked to stop! We’ve now moved to our own offices in London Bridge.
What has your growth been like?
We make a percentage of every deal sold. As we’ve increased in size, we’ve worked hard to increase our share of the sales we generate, because of the scale we can provide to deal providers.
We’ve bootstrapped the business so have never let our costs exceed our revenue. We’re now growing rapidly – increasing our revenue by 50% each month.
What’s the impact on your home life been like?
Much of our work happens early in the morning, as Buyometric sends users a tailored list of deals at 8am. Initially this involved getting up at 5am every day, including Christmas Day and New Year’s Day – which didn’t win me many points at home. Luckily the technology does most of the heavy lifting now – although I’m still working a good 12-hour day.
What would you say the greatest difficulty has been in starting up?
Finding the right staff has been incredibly difficult and frustrating. Despite poor economic conditions, it remains challenging to find talented developers in the London market. It’s something we’re going to have to overcome so that it doesn’t start to impede our growth. We’re actively recruiting!
What was your first big breakthrough?
Our first big breakthrough was deciding to forego cash investment, instead signing the deal with Fubra. Their users have allowed us to become the market-leading deals aggregator in a relatively short period of time – which has allowed us to punch above our weight when dealing with our suppliers. I honestly don’t know whether a huge marketing budget would have gained us the number of users that we have now.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Firstly, meet as many people as possible and then stay in touch with them via social media. I’ve lost count of the number of times that someone I’ve once met has provided the key to a locked door. Secondly, get your idea out in front of your potential customers. Keep it simple and keep iterating, then build on success when you find it. Lastly, don’t be afraid of abandoning a failing venture. Don’t leave it too long and use what you’ve learned to try something new.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
We’re going to stay focused on our users. The better we understand them, the more relevant we can make our service. The daily deals space may be unrecognisable in five years’ time, but we’re betting that people will still be interested in special offers and getting a good deal – whatever the medium of delivery.