Smashing-plates.com: James Newell

James Newell reveals how he started his number plate listing website

Fascinated with car number plates himself, James Newell decided there had to be an alternative to commission-based dealers. The solution came through his listings website, smashing-plates.com. He reveals how he got started.

Company name: WWW.SMASHING-PLATES.COM … Founder: James Newell Age: 23 Based: London Staff Numbers: NA Date started: Jan 2007

Tell us what your business does Smashing-plates.com is the first dedicated online marketplace for buyers and sellers of personalised registrations. We are don’t charge commission, we offer adverts for a fixed fee- with no relisting.

Where did the idea for your business come from? I bought six numberplates with a view to selling them for profit but realised how expensive and tricky it can be to sell numberplates as it’s a slow moving market. After a while relisting fees for adverts / commissions from numberplate dealers erode the selling price of the plate.

How did you know there was a market for it? I knew from my own experience as well as from some market research that the private number plate market in the UK is big business but there was a gap in the market for an online marketplace. The market is dominated by commission based dealers and until us there wasn’t much alternative.

What were you doing before starting up? I came back from travelling and got stuck in straight away- leaving my job for travelling was a joyous occasion!

Have you always wanted to run your own business? At about age 5 if you’d asked me what I wanted to do when I was older I’d have told you I wanted to be rich- it’s only now I’m working out how to get there!

What planning did you do before you started?It has taken me a little over a year of solid work to get to where I am today. Market research and building a prospecting database has been key- I have a business plan and have crunched numbers- but only to a degree- there’s no victory over customers and so far things are looking promising.

How did you raise the money? Thankfully I have been able to fund the business from my own savings. As the business grows I may need to seek funding which is where a solid business plan and good presentation will be key. I am determined not to trade any ownership of my business in return for investment.

What would you say the greatest difficulty has been in starting up?There aren’t enough hours in the day- it’s as simple as that.

What was your first big breakthrough?Day one of trading- I took more money that day than I had planned to take in the first few months- that was when I knew I was on to something.

What would you do differently?I’m only 23 but I wish I had started sooner- I wanted to be sure of my concept and be sure what I was doing was fun- generating revenue really is a by product.

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