Bikmo: David George
The former engineer shares with Startups his cycling products comparison site
Name: David George
Company Name: Bikmo
Staff numbers: 5
Location: North West
Date Launched: 11/11/13
Tell us what your business does:
We make life easier for cyclists by helping them find new bikes, or equipment for their bikes.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
My own frustrations with the industry – spending hours on the computer on retailer sites, YouTube and manufacturer sites trying to find lighter, cheaper kit but still (having cycled for 25+ years) buying the wrong products. There's no reason that should happen for anyone.
How did you know there was a market for it?
I spent 18 months researching the industry and looking at business models whilst working as a nuclear engineer for Rolls Royce.
It took a lot of work to convince myself there was a market and to prove the need for it.
What were you doing before starting up?
My background is mechanical engineering for harsh environments (nuclear and subsea oil and gas). I've worked for a number of companies, starting out in engineering then moving onto project management, working on projects across Europe.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Yes, I've owned a couple of businesses in the past. The first main one being a garden landscaping company set up after university with a tax rebate I got from working a sandwich year during my course.
I didn't want to go straight into an office after university so started the business, built it up to three employees and sold it in the run up to travelling.
I also had a test in the e-commerce sector, setting up a business selling coffee equipment gift packs in the run up to Christmas, using Google ads.
How did you raise the money?
Initial money was raised from a bank loan, selling my (lovely) van and motorbike, then continuing some consultancy work part-time.
I've since run a seed funding round, which was completed through three key angel investors.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
Financial, managing people, distributors, retailers, manufacturers, press, PR. There's been challenges at all stages and pretty much all of them have been overcome by speaking openly and honestly to people.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
Our business is predominantly based around affiliate marketing. When a user clicks through to a retailer site, and completes a sale, we generate an agreed percentage of the total basket value.
We also white label our technology for partner organisations who have high traffic figures or a large user base to help generate revenue for both parties. These include large publishers, higher education establishments and charitable organisations.
In addition we're developing a number of modules for large publishers to help them use our engine and database in a different way.
What was your first big breakthrough?
There's been a number of key breakthroughs. The first being a large distributer giving us their data. It's taken a long time to convince people that we're in this for the right reasons and it's going to happen!
The next was the first angel investment which allowed me to take on my first employee.
And finally, just making the first £1 was a huge achievement. It works!
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Communicate, preferably face to face. Whether you're getting feedback on your idea, speaking to clients or customers or raising finance, there's nothing better than speaking in person.
Where do you want to be in five years' time?
I'd like to see Bikmo across five key territories, four other vertical industries and start to be supporting, investing in and mentoring new start-ups.