Startups Awards Hall of Fame: Aikaterini Zaravinou, Schmidt (Palmers Green)

2015 Franchisee of the Year, Aikaterini Zaravinou, tells Startups' how winning at the awards has benefitted her thriving kitchen interiors showroom...

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Founders: Aikaterini Zaravinou and Konstantinos Sarantis
Year started: 2013

Kitchen, bathroom and living room interiors chain Schmidt launched in the UK in 2010, and since, entrepreneurs have retailed the brand’s design, installation and project management services in showrooms across the country.

Female entrepreneur Aikaterini Zaravinou became a Schmidt franchisee in 2012, opening her showroom in Palmers Green, London. Revenues scaled rapidly, and the thriving business went on to become Schmidt’s biggest location in the capital.

Prior to the 2015 awards, Zaravinou had already become a ‘Master Partner’, gained prestigious Elite Silestone Studio status, and attracted Siemens to showcase its studio line range in her showroom. Such rapid success in so few years is what won her the title of Franchisee of the Year at the Startups Awards 2015.

But what is she up to now? Nearly two years on, Startups’ caught up with Zaravinou about her awards win and how it has benefitted her showroom…

What’s happened in the two years since you entered the Startups Awards?

After the awards, our win was mentioned to all clients that entered our showroom, and it still is; clients are often interested to hear more details concerning the award, and we are always happy as a team to explain further.

Over the past two years, the business has grown and we have been concentrating on looking after our customer service to ensure that clients are satisfied and we get referrals from them.

The displays at our showroom have all been replaced with updated versions so the showroom is once again new – this was a big investment, but we believe these actions are necessary to attract people and build confidence in the products offered.

What’s been the single biggest highlight for the business since winning?

Over recent years people who have bought from us once have kept coming back for other projects and, importantly, recommendations have increased as well. This is one of our greatest achievements and we pride ourselves over our customer service.

Another highlight is that the Franchisee of the Year award is now standing in a premium position in our showroom and draws clients’ interest, which is a great advertisement for the showroom.

What are you hoping to achieve in the next year or so?

Of course we aim to have another successful year in sales, with happy clients and recommendations. We want to ensure the business is sustainable and gradually increasing, and if the right opportunity comes along to open another showroom, why not? The foundations are already there!

What did winning at the Startups Awards mean to you?

Mainly personal satisfaction – it’s recognition for all the hard work and devotion to the aim of making this business successful from year one.

Why would you recommend entering awards like this?

Entering the Startups Awards is a smooth operational process, and it enables you to meet good professionals from different market fields and expand your awareness of different companies on the day of the event.

Being involved is also a good advertisement for your business, it attracts press, and it grows your awareness of the start-up market.

Applications for the Startups Awards 2017 are open! To enter your franchise and follow in Zaravinou’s footsteps, click here.

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