Love the Sales: Stuart McClure
Family man Stuart McClure shares his bootstrapped fashion marketplace, discussing beta testing, SEO tricks and the important of a work-life balance…
Name: Stuart McClure
Company name: Love the Sales
Number of Employees: 4
Location: Greater London
Date launched: 01/06/2014
Tell us what your business does:
We put all the sales in one place for consumers to browse and shop. Rather than simply link to a website that has a sale, we crunch over 2 million products twice a day and display all those products on our site. Consumers can browse by category or use filters to drill down to the types of products they love. They can filter by type of product, brand, their size and more. We are also on the verge of launching a live feed that displays products specific to the user once they have signed in.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
I was a young father and so spent a lot of time looking for bargains. It was always time consuming and the sales sites that did exist weren't very good. You could sign up to flash sale sites that forced you to give up details in return for just a small selection of sales, or you could go to sites that simply tell you one retailer has a sale and link you to their home page. After a few years I realised this could be made so much easier and so I set about building a team that could make this proposition a reality.
How did you know there was a market for it?
First of all, it's just obvious that people love the sales. Every boxing day people go nuts online and the economy meant people needed to make as much out of their spending as possible.
I talked to a lot of people about the idea of the site, and every single one said it would be great. I also did a lot of research on the amount of money spent during sales periods etc. All of this made me realise that people want a service like this – consumers want to be able to save money on the things and to find those bargains quickly and easily.
What were you doing before starting up?
My background is in marketing and business strategy, I've been doing that for over a decade. I have experience of working with huge corporations with over a million users, right down to consulting for small privately-owned businesses. I love helping to bring user centric websites to people that will benefit from using them.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Yes. I've always strived to do the best possible job at whatever is in front of me, and where better to do that than in your own business?
How did you raise the money?
So far we are entirely bootstrapped! Recently though, we have been receiving a lot of interest from angel investors, and have been lucky enough to have a couple of VC's offering us advice. It's not the right time for them to get involved in investment, but knowing they want to keep an eye on us for future is a real incentive to keep going.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
Effectively we are a marketplace. Our main revenue generation comes from an affiliate payment from the retailer selling the product. However, we don't focus on money when we build and develop our product but on building a user centric service that helps people engage with the sales in the best way possible. If we do that right, sales and revenue will come as a natural consequence.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
Because we are a technology product we had to ensure we could cover that from the outset. I'm not a coder and nor is the person I initially co-founded with. We had to go out and find developers that shared our vision and were as interested in the service as we were. That took time but we eventually co-founded the business with four of us – one marketing, one product, one front-end and one back-end founder. This approach meant that all four core areas of the business are represented by a founder. We kicked of a beta version of our site just before Christmas as a test to assess product/market fit. We did it at that time as we knew Google would sandbox us from a SEO point of view (meaning we would benefit from lots of SEO traffic before Google knew where we should really rank).
What was your first big breakthrough?
That one month beta gave us a huge amount of visits and we sold thousands of pounds worth of stock for the retailers that connected with us (we have over 430 at the moment). It also gave us lots of useful feedback and stats for us to prepare our live site for launch. This beta test really proved our concept and solidified the thoughts around whether the business would succeed or not.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
If you have a family, like I do, it's important to get their support. A start-up consumes so much of your time so it is important for your family to understand why you are so busy. However, ensure you do make time for your family. Time with my wife and kids is the best way for me to recharge and it focuses my mind on why I am working on a start-up in the first place!
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
In five years' time we want to be through two or three rounds of investment and have a global reach – bringing the best sales items to the whole world!