The Entrepreneur: Dessi Bell, Zaggora

The fitness wear founder who has sold her HotPants invention in 126 countries takes our fast-growth business questionnaire

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Founder: Dessi Bell
Company: Zaggora
Description in one line: When I couldn’t find a fitness wear product to help me get into shape for my wedding, I decided to make my own… A few years of research later, Zaggora’s signature ThermoFit fabric technology was born!
Previous companies: Investment banker at JPMorgan Investment Bank

Describe your business model and what makes your business unique:

  • A big online community through website and social media
  • Unique product using ThermoFit technology that gives women better results from exercise
  • Utilise social media for marketing over 500,000 followers through various social media networks

What is your greatest business achievement to date?

Building a community of half a million women from all over the world who love our products.

What numbers do you look at every day in your business?

I look at profitability of marketing, products sold, number of new customers and returning customers, best-selling products and key traffic channels.

To what extent does your business trade internationally and what are your plans?

Currently 85% of trade is outside the UK, and we plan to continue to develop nationally and internationally. At the moment the USA is our main international market.

Describe your growth funding path:

We have always been funded internally, so there is no external investment.

What technology has made the biggest difference to your business?

Definitely social networking. Word of mouth is such a powerful tool and Zaggora has such a wonderful fan base of women wanting to achieve great results.

Where would you like your business to be in three years?

Ideally I would like to achieve annual turnover figures of £50m+. We want to be the most loved global sportswear brand for people who want to get results!

Growth challenges

What is the hardest thing you have ever done in business?

Learning to prioritise and cutting down on projects that aren’t working.

What was your biggest business mistake?

Diversifying too much and over scaling.

What is the most common serious mistake you see entrepreneurs make?

Over thinking a product, without seeking customer feedback. The key is to try and launch even if it’s not the final product so you can test the market and collect customer feedback ASAP in order to bring the perfect product for the customer.

How will your market look in three years?

The market is growing rapidly and currently worth $140bn. Technical apparel is growing 7% yearly. The present trend is more leisure wear and there are now more brands launching and bigger players coming in, with more brands offering fusion between fashion and function in active apparel.

What is the single most important piece of advice you would offer to a less experienced entrepreneur?

If you have an idea, find a way to put it in front of customers as soon as possible. You need to get feedback from the customer; as what you think is a great product, may not be what the customers want.

Personal growth

Biggest luxury:

Taking time out for myself, having a break with my family, and bit of down time in between running Zaggora.

Executive education or learn it on the job?

Learn it on the job. There is nothing better than learning from doing. In my opinion, that is the best experience.

What would make you a better leader?

Following my own advice and listening more to others people’s feedback.

Business book:

The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz is a great book. A truly inspiring book that everyone should read.

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