Rental Reserve: Gareth Thomas and Craig Douglas
Gareth Thomas and Craig Douglas on why they've always wanted to run their own venture
Company name: Rental Reserve
Founders: Gareth Thomas and Craig Douglas
Based: Cardiff and Edinburgh
Staff Numbers: 7 (partly made up of our technical support partner)
Date started: April 2007
Tell us what your business does:
Rental Reserve was set up to provide marketing and management solutions to short-term property owners and agents. The marketing side of the business involves using a number of websites and partnerships with other businesses to get bookings for the short-term rentals on our system. We are also developing a booking/property management system for property owners – covering the management side of the business. What were you doing before starting up?
I’ve always had a big interest and passion for the web. From the age of around 14 I’ve always been creating and developing websites. Over the years I have supported my determined aim of success with numerous bar, hotel and restaurant jobs and also spent a short time at university.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
I love everything about business and have done for as long as I can remember. Doing this kind of thing on a daily basis is fantastic. It’s a great outlet for lots of ideas and a fantastic opportunity. I’m one of those odd people who enjoy working hard – which is a good job as the business can be quite time consuming.
What planning did you do before you started up?
Everything from scooting about the web looking at what was already out there to delving through market research and stats. I think it’s all about getting a feel for the direction the market is moving in – making sure that your starting the right business at the right time. We did put together a business plan (with the help of some great people) as it was required for the new media incubator where our offices are based.
Where is your business based?
We have a small team (including myself) based in Cardiff. My business partner and the technical team are based in Edinburgh. Because we provide accommodation throughout the UK this can be good – it gives us a good coverage of the UK (we already have websites covering Edinburgh, Wales, the Lake District and Cornwall).
How have you promoted your business?
The vast majority of our traffic comes from search engines. We’ve invested in advertising across a few websites – but will be increasing this soon as part of a larger marketing campaign. One of the great things about the web is you can closely track results of online ads – we spend a lot of time ensuring we get this right.
What about staff – how many do you have? Is it burdensome?
I believed from day one that good people are the most important part of any company – and we have the best. We’re lucky to work amongst people that are not only very good at what they do but who also enjoy doing it. It all makes for a great working environment and a positive attitude towards the whole business.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Don’t bother doing it if you don’t enjoy it. If you do enjoy it and have a passion for business then it’s not only much easier but it’s also great fun. I would recommend making every attempt to get something off the ground – working on a small web project/business while in uni/employment is a great way to get noticed and build your experience and skills.