ALLOW: Justin Basini
The co-founder on solving the problems of junk marketing
Company name: ALLOW LIMITED Website:www.i-allow.com Founders: Justin Basini & Howard Huntley Age: 36 and 46 Based: London Staff Numbers: 4 Date started: June 2010
Tell us what your business does ALLOW is a business that puts people in control of their personal data and in control of which companies have permission to use that data. The service empowers people to choose their level of privacy and to choose what types of companies can contact them and when. It is the beginning of the end for junk marketing. We are helping people to realise how valuable their personal information is to companies and organisations. We are also a profit-sharing business and will be transferring a significant amount of that value into the hands of consumers.
Where did the idea for your business come from? Mainly from our collective 40 years in marketing. We realised how inefficient and wasteful the industry was and that direct marketing was essentially expensive guesswork with poor response rates. We could also see the extent to which people’s personal data is traded between companies for marketing purposes and how lucrative it was for those companies. At the same time we knew that the average consumer had no idea that this was going on. It became clear to us that something needs to change in the way marketers communicate with their customers, giving more control to the individual. This would be much more efficient for both the people and the companies. We thought, “Why not set up a business that can help people to stop unwanted marketing and the trade in their data, give permission to the companies they like and get rewarded to boot!”
How did you know there was a market for it? Over £8bn is spent on marketing in the UK and people are increasingly inundated with advertising everywhere. Being able to put people in control of how their data is used has the opportunity to create real efficiencies which could mean people feel less bombarded, get what they want and get rewarded.
What’s your USP (unique selling point)? How will you differentiate yourself from the competition? Our whole concept is unique. ALLOW is one of the first businesses to create a business model around the ‘Volunteered Personal Information’ market. However, increased competition in the market would not be a bad thing because we need people to take more care of their personal data, and the more people with innovative tools creating the market, the better.
What were you doing before starting up? I have 15 years blue-chip marketing and management experience. I previously worked at Capital One in Europe. Prior to joining Capital One, I worked with Deutsche Bank, Added Value and Procter & Gamble. Howard brings over 20 years experience in the design and delivery of propositions, software and solutions in the marketing industry. He has worked for some of the biggest names in the industry including Sand Technology, ClarityBlue and Experian Marketing Services.
Have you always wanted to run your own business? What appealed most about being your own boss?I had one previous entrepreneurial venture in 1999-2000, launching a Swedish-backed brand management consultancy in London called Differ. Since then I’ve been longing to have another go at running my own business.
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What planning did you do before you started up? We took a very professional approach, with extensive consumer research, a comprehensive business plan and financial modelling.
How did you raise the money? Business angels, friends and family. It was not easy but not impossible.
How did you find suppliers? Through networking
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them? Building an innovative new technology isn’t easy, but fortunately we have the right backgrounds.
Where is your business based? It’s based at home at the moment. It has been a joy being at home with the kids and wife after 200 days per year away from them when working in the corporate world.
How much do you charge? Nothing – this was a no-brainer.
What’s the impact on your home life been like? The world revolves around me at the moment (quote from my wife!)
What have you learnt? Don’t underestimate how long everything takes.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs? The quickest way not to start is to think too much.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time? Do you have an exit plan? We want to be running the leading global business in helping people control and get value from their personal information.