The Entrepreneur: Alex Loizou, Trouva
Co-founder of a rapidly growing online marketplace, Loizou says business owners should "stay persistent but flexible and drive but keep listening"...
Founder: Alex Loizou
Description in one line: We’re the marketplace for the best independent bricks-and-mortar boutiques, enabling their distinctive ranges of homewares and fashion accessories to be shopped through worldwide shipping, instant click & collect, and 1 hour or same day delivery.
Describe your business model and what makes your business unique:
- We are a marketplace that bridges the gap between online and offline retail for bricks-and-mortar independent boutiques.
- We are passionate about creating technology that empowers independent retailers and allows them to compete on a global scale, as well as against chains like Amazon and John Lewis.
- We want to make local boutiques and their truly distinctive products discoverable for shoppers anywhere in the world.
What is your greatest business achievement to date?
Bringing millions of pounds of revenue to our community of boutiques within 18 months of launching Trouva. These are sales that would otherwise never have ended up in the independent retail space, so we're very proud of making such a tangible difference.
What numbers do you look at every day in your business?
The daily sales performance, NPS and the growth of our community.
To what extent does your business trade internationally and what are your plans?
We've got over 250 boutiques in our community from 25 cities across the UK, fulfilling orders for customers across the globe. Whilst our consumer focus remains the UK for this year, we're looking to launch in a European city this year.
Describe your growth funding path:
We've been fortunate to have some of Europe’s largest VC funds believe in our vision early on and have raised £2.5m from Octopus, Index Ventures and a group of strategic angels including current and former directors of eBay, Google, Jack Wills and Just Eat.
What technology has made the biggest difference to your business?
Our mission is to bring technology to the best independent bricks-and-mortar boutiques globally, enabling them to sell efficiently online by providing them with the tools that large chains spend millions to develop. For independent bricks-and-mortar shops to sell online, they need a toolkit that spans multiple components; from inventory management to marketing automation, logistics integrations and streamlining customer support.
Where would you like your business to be in three years?
Since launching Trouva in August 2015, we've been growing 20 to 25% month on month, times five per year and have tripled our community with boutiques joining in all corners of the UK. Over the next three years we'll grow our community internationally in key cities such as Berlin, Stockholm, Paris and New York.
What is the hardest thing you have ever done in business?
Taking a step back and questioning every assumption that we had bought into for years previously.
What was your biggest business mistake?
Not taking a step back and questioning everything earlier.
Piece of Red Tape that hampers growth most:
The closer we work together with our community of boutiques the faster we grow together.
What is the most common serious mistake you see entrepreneurs make?
Not taking enough time to communicate with the team: explain the ‘why’, then people can figure out ‘how.’
How will your market look in three years?
We'll see a lot more innovation happening, starting from wherever the customer discovers a certain product, all the way to the fulfilment and next purchase. Customer experience will become even more important and we'll see smarter and more efficient ways to push satisfaction to the highest level possible through scalable solutions in personalised marketing, customer support and logistics.
What is the single most important piece of advice you would offer to a less experienced entrepreneur?
Work hard but smart. Stay persistent but flexible, and drive but keep listening.
My hammock. It goes everywhere and makes any experience pure luxury.
Executive education or learn it on the job?
Read, try, learn, repeat.
What would make you a better leader?
What one thing do you wish you’d known when you started?
The power of buy-in by the people who are part of the team.
One business app and one personal app you can’t do without:
Chaos Monkeys by Antonia Garcia Martinez.