OnBuy: Cas Paton

The former web development agency entrepreneur talks to Startups about his uniquely British online marketplace

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Name: Cas Paton
Age: 28
Company: OnBuy
Staff numbers: 7
Location: Hampshire
Date launched: 01/02/2013
Website: www.onbuy.co.uk

Tell us what your business does:
OnBuy is a brand new online marketplace, ‘going live’ in June. OnBuy sells a wide variety of products, from hand-crafted items to the latest technology releases, while offering both our sellers and shoppers a uniquely simple and cost efficient experience.

Where did the idea for your business come from?
From seeing shoppers’ frustrations with eBay and sellers’ frustrations with Amazon. I decided that to create a British online marketplace which takes the best bits from both, and takes heed of well voiced criticisms of the two major sites would be a great idea! The trend ‘Best of British’ also seems to be well entrenched in popular culture at the moment, which gave me that extra confidence boost.

How did you know there was a market for it?
It’s a market dominated by two very big names: the big boys who have monopolised the market. From reading seller and shoppers’ frustrations with these two companies, I realised that a marketplace that makes both parties happy would go down a storm! OnBuy will offer consumers a shopping experience which allows them to save money through our exclusive discounting and buy with unparalleled ease and clarity, as well as offering sellers the most efficient and cost effective trading platform around.

What were you doing before starting up?
I was the MD of a web development agency called OnTop Media. I started the business with just £80 in my back pocket, but have spent the last six years nurturing it to become one of the UK’s leading web development companies. We’ve worked on systems for the MOD and NATO and for businesses such as Lok’nStore.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Yes! Since the age of twelve, when I took a ride in a Ferrari. I’ve always had this drive to make my own money, and started OnTop Media immediately after I left university.

How did you raise the money?
I started from scratch, and as OnTop grew, I made more money. With this money and the investment we have just secured from Centerprise International – one of the UK’s leading IT providers – we had the funds to launch OnBuy.

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
Our biggest challenge was finding the right investor. We knew we needed one, as to get a project like this off the ground – with the competitors we have – takes some funding! Luckily Centerprise International were really taken by the team and the OnBuy concept. It didn’t take too much to get them on board.

Describe your business model and how you make money:
We make money through our seller fees, although we are still substantially cheaper than our rivals. We also only charge when a sale is completed – there are no charges if it falls through.

What was your first big breakthrough?
My first breakthrough came at a crucial time! I had no money left because I had registered my first limited company which took everything, and had spent eight days building our first website. I couldn’t even afford to eat! I started advertising through a PPC scheme, knowing I had to get my first sale. After three days I got it – for £2,200 – and it freed everything up for me!

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
My advice is to take your time, plan it out, and keep evolving your plan; then when your plan inspires you, go for it!

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
The MD of Europe’s most popular online marketplace.

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