MyRuby: Natalie and Andrew Perillo
Startups Award finalists Natalie and Andrew Perillo on setting up a husband and wife business
Company name: MyRuby
Founders: Natalie and Andrew Perillo
Age: 39 & 40
Based: Colchester, Essex
Staff Numbers: 8
Date started: March 2007
Turnover: Year 1 £800,000
Tell us what your business does:
MyRuby is a professional telephone answering company that prides itself on offering a ‘virtual PA’ service where each team member or ‘Ruby’ is allocated a set number of clients.
Essentially, if you never seem to have enough time to take your phone calls but can’t justify the cost of another full-time employee, or need to get out of the office more but don’t have someone reliable to cover your calls, then MyRuby is the answer to your phone prayers.
What were you doing before starting up?
My husband and I have complementary skill sets. I have a background in sales and marketing whilst Andy’s expertise lies in IT and finance and we divide the roles within the company accordingly. Our last business was a large call centre operation working with big blue chip clients so we had relevant experience in the sector.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Having complete control of our destiny was an important driver for us. My husband and I have instilled both passion and business drive into MyRuby. We have a very strong and enduring business relationship that has seen us through several successful business projects. However, this is the first time we have truly started from scratch and have been able to shape each part of the company to our exacting standards.
What planning did you do before you started up?
We put together a very thorough business plan that included all of the research we carried out into our competitors, what customers wanted and how we could provide a quality service that potential clients required.
How did you raise the money?
We used a combination of our own capital and a bank loan. We went to HSBC who we have known for 10 years.
How did you find suppliers?
We had previous experience from the call centre operation. We also used personal contacts – one of Andy’s friends runs a successful IT company. In order to deliver what is essentially a simple and obvious concept, MyRuby has installed and applied the very best technology. Specifically modified for our particular business needs, we have a cutting-edge system.
How have you promoted your business?
Our marketing plan provides a consistent stream of activity designed to grow the MyRuby client base, including online advertising using Google adwords and site specific display advertising, direct mail, PR, telemarketing and a client referral system.
What about staff – how many do you have? Is it burdensome?
We hire for will as well as skill as we believe strongly that having a smile in your voice and a bright, engaging manner and personality is something that cannot easily be taught. We are taking on two new members of staff each month at the moment. We have developed a comprehensive recruitment and evaluation process to assess potential team members.
What’s the impact on your home life been like?
We have two young children but luckily my mum lives with us so she has been able to help with childcare, and she is a pretty good cook! One of our clients, ‘Spic & Span’ is a cleaning company so we now have them visit and clean the house once a week which takes some of the pressure off. Where do you want to be in five years’ time? Do you have an exit plan?
We want to be running a national business which is recognised as a leader in its sector, both in terms of staff employment and customer experience. We would like the company to be profitable and we don’t have any intention of exiting.