The Building Experience: Jake Gibbs, Richard Brett and Richard Gibbs
Jake Gibbs' on starting his business, which allows DIY enthusiasts to work alongside professionals on their own projects.
Company name: The Building Experience Website:http://www.thebuildingexperience.com/ Founders: Jake Gibbs, Richard Brett, Richard Gibbs Ages: 27, 28, 53 Based: Essex & Suffolk Staff Numbers: 8 permanent plus subcontractors Date started: 01/09/2007 Tell us what your business does
We offer DIY enthusiasts the chance to take part in their own project. Whether it’s a large extension or laying an oak floor, no job is too big or too small.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
As a non-builder, I was receiving help from the two Richards to build my extension. I really enjoyed it, and thought most people wouldn’t have the chance to do this if they don’t have a good friend or family member who’s a builder. How did you differentiate yourself from the competition?
We differentiate ourselves by letting the client take part in the project. Also, we have an interactive community on our website where our clients and other users can discuss issues with other DIY enthusiasts and professionals and learn from our hints and tips. What were you doing before you started up?
I am an underwriter, which remains my day job. The two Richards were both experienced builders and continue to run their previous company alongside The Building Experience. What planning did you do before you started up?
We put together a business plan and did a great deal of research into DIY and building trends. As far as I know, The Building Experience is the first company of its kind in the UK, which meant it was difficult to see how great the existing demand was – but we were pretty certain there would be demand, which has since been proven. What challenges have you faced?
Our greatest challenge was finding the right employees, because we were looking for individuals who were skilled tradesmen, but could also interact with clients. Another one of our biggest challenges is finding the time to keep our loved ones happy because we’re all working seven days a week. How have you promoted your business?
We try to promote our business in unusual and creative ways rather than just paying for an ad in a paper or dropping leaflets.
We’re attempting to build a brand, so everything – from the uniforms to the vans to the website – is purple. We also give all of our clients a purple Building Experience t-shirt, which helps them remember us and promotes the business when they wear it after we’ve gone.
Finally, our work boards look like purple ‘for sale’ signs. Everyone loves property nowadays and the sign catches people’s attention, then they go home and check out the website. Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
I truly believe The Building Experience could be a nationally recognised company. Hopefully, by next year we will be fully established in our region, and then we’ll have to come up with the best way to expand the business. Perhaps in five years we’ll see purple Building Experience vans and work boards up across the country. That’s the dream.