The Entrepreneur: Richard Laughton, easyCar Club
Part of the easyGroup family, easyCar's CEO has his say on milestones, "box ticking compliance culture", and a need for entrepreneurs to avoid 'dithering'
CEO: Richard Laughton
Company: easyCar Club
Description in one line: UK’s largest peer-to-peer car rental platform
Previous companies: BZW (Barclays’ Investment Bank), McKinsey, Chalsys LLP, Fractal Edge
Describe your business model and what makes your business unique:
easyCar Club has grown to be UK’s leading peer-to-peer (P2P) brand, but we have not lost sight of the driver of profit, the online brokerage. Usually a business launch is cash-consuming and the demand of two sides of the business can conflict, but we have managed to run the two effectively and expect to see growth.
What is your greatest business achievement to date?
Launching the peer-to-peer car rental side of the business, easyCar Club, while driving increased profits in the existing online brokerage for standard car rental has been very satisfying.
What numbers do you look at every day in your business?
Sales and member recruitment numbers.
To what extent does your business trade internationally and what are your plans?
More than 50% of our standard rental customers are based outside of the UK and we plan to expand our P2P business into Europe in the near future.
Describe your growth funding path:
The business was founded 16 years ago by Stelios Haji-Ioannou. Four years ago the company took in funding from PROfounders capital to launch the P2P side of the business and has been self-funding through profitable brokerage operations ever since.
What technology has made the biggest difference to your business?
Smartphones are having a huge impact – mobile search growth rates are dwarfing desktop, and app-based access to our P2P business is growing rapidly.
Where would you like your business to be in three years?
More than £100m turnover in three years, continued global operations in standard car rental, and we want to have a strong European presence with the P2P side.
What is the hardest thing you have ever done in business?
Explaining to someone why their role is no longer required in a business that is growing.
What was your biggest business mistake?
Launching a business that relied on fast connectivity back in 2000!
Piece of Red Tape that hampers growth most:
The focus of financial regulation on creating ever more specific rules is encouraging the growth of a box-ticking compliance culture.
What is the most common serious mistake you see entrepreneurs make?
Underestimating the cash it requires to scale a business.
How will your market look in three years?
P2P car rental will benefit from better in-car technology and connectivity so that the decision to share is easier to make.
What is the single most important piece of advice you would offer to a less experienced entrepreneur?
Don’t dither over decisions – Better to get something wrong knowing why you did it than to delay and not learn anything.
My third child!
Executive education or learn it on the job?
There’s a place for both but nothing beats experience.
What would make you a better leader?
What one thing do you wish you’d known when you started?
Getting people to change their behaviour is much more difficult than just showing them a better way to do things.
One business app and one personal app you can’t do without:
Of course, the easyCar Club app! For personal use, Funbridge – an infuriating bridge app.
Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.