Wait ‘n’ Read: Demos Demetriou
Demos Demetriou was in a hospital waiting room when he got his latest business idea.
Inspiration can come from the least likely of situations. Demos Demetriou was in a hospital visiting a sick relative when he got his latest idea. Here he explains why waiting rooms will never be the same again.
Name: Demos Demetriou Age: 25 Business: Wait ‘n’ Read Ltd Type of business: Magazines Delivery & Display Service Start date: November 2004
Tell us about your businessI founded Wait ‘n’ Read in November 2004, it is a unique magazine delivery service that provides subscribing companies with the latest issues of their chosen consumer magazines every month. The service is aimed at any business with a reception areas or waiting room, such as offices, hairdressers, doctors, dentists, garages, hotels and restaurants.
Where did the idea come from?The idea actually came to me when I took a member of my family to hospital. While waiting, a tatty two year old car magazine set bells ringing in my head and made me question why it is that wherever you go, you seem to see old tired magazines?
How does it work?When a business signs up to Wait ‘n’ Read they choose to receive either 5 or 10 magazines each month from a list of all the most popular consumer titles. A smart display stand can be provided to hold them all, and each magazine is labelled with the name of the business. The new issues are delivered in person each month, and the old issues are taken away for recycling.
What is in it for the customer? The Wait ‘n’ Read service can help project a more professional image to visitors and customers, and add value to any business, as consumers really appreciate having relevant and up to date magazines available.
When did you first decide you wanting start your own business? I actually started in business when I was 17 building and selling custom made computers for friends and family. When I was 19 I dropped out of University to pursue my business. Unfortunately due to the growing competition from major manufacturers like Dell I decided to pursue a new avenue in 2000. I was one of the first companies to produce what was known at the time as the Digital Business Card. But the growth of the World Wide Web with its faster speeds eliminated the use of such a product, but it was great while it lasted.
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What makes you think there’s a market for your business? When I initially thought of Wait ‘n’ Read I honestly thought that such a service would already be available, but to my surprise there was no competition. The closest business that I found just offered magazine subscriptions. What Wait ‘n’ Read offers is a magazine service with the personal and professional touch!
Once you’d decided to start a business, what did you do first? I got all my ideas about the business, from potential company names to how many magazines I would need to sell a month to make the business worthwhile, put them down on paper and then ensured that I was protected as best as possible through existing copyright laws because I believed I had a unique idea.
What research did you do?Initially I took a walk round a busy shopping area with a range of different businesses and looked at their waiting and reception areas. In most there was no reading material and in the ones that did have material, it was way out of date.
What advice did you seek? I initially approached my accountant who gave me some sound advice and then I then began to use the very useful government portals that are available like Business Link to get a wealth of information from developing a business plan to taking on staff.
How useful has your business plan been and do you think you’ll stick to it as your business begins to grow? To be honest this is the first time that I have ever produced such a detailed business plan. In the past I have often had many ideas in my head and knew how I wanted things to go, but haven’t planned in such detail. Now that I have written my plan I do review it regularly and I find that things do change, but what I have learnt is you need an initial road to go down before you can make decisions!
How much did it cost to start the business? I have initially funded the business myself and so far have spent in excess of £10,000, but this has been spent on equipment as well as building an overall brand image for Wait ‘n’ Read including a website. I am now looking at borrowing some money from the bank for the next stage of the business development.
Have you made any provisions for business not being as prosperous as expected? I have made provisions and have also given myself a target that if the business does not get to a certain level, it will not be worth continuing. I have found in the past that it is very easy to get dragged into an idea that you think is great, but if you don’t get away from it when it is not going well you stand to lose a lot of money as well as your confidence.
Are you working from home or from premises? I initially began Wait ‘n’ Read from home but have already outgrown this and have found a small detached office locally that I will be renting until the business moves to the next level. I hope to move to these new premises in the next few weeks.
How many hours are you working at the moment? About 14 hours a day physically but mentally I rarely switch off. I do try my best to switch off at the weekends and spend time with my wife and close family as well as get involved in lots of DIY. I really enjoy it and it is a real challenge, that helps me to switch off. I think it is very important to take your thoughts away from ideas or problems because often with a fresh set of eyes and a different approach you will always find a solution. I manage my day through a computerised diary. I normally start 6:30 am and get all the emails handled and confirm the plans for the day. If I have meetings with any new clients or suppliers I will arrange this from 11:00 till 16:00. I then spend the rest of the day till 8pm reviewing the day and planning for the next. I find that if you work around the clock you tend to find yourself going backwards.
What about staff, is it just you? At the moment it is just me but I am already looking to take on an Administrative member of staff as well as a part time delivery driver.
What marketing and advertising have you done so far? I recently instructed a local marketing consultancy company called Whiten Marketing to get involved in producing and implementing the marketing plan. This has already highlighted potential advertising and marketing avenues but we have not undertaken these yet as the business is still at a start-up level.
Where do you hope to be in 12 months time? I hope to have built an exclusive and extensive network within twelve months and built a brand that people in the industry can start to see. It takes many years to build a successful brand but I believe the foundations are the key, and this is want I want to build on.
What are the main obstacles to growth? The main obstacles for Wait ‘n’ Read are building the network of clients and also being able to supply this network efficiently and reliably.
How do you plan to overcome these? I plan to initially start extending the service regionally, and then once a good structure is in place begin to roll the service out nationally.
Tell us about your website. I come from an IT background so I think a website is VERY important. I believe that the website is the first impression that some people get of your business so it is important that it looks professional but it also needs to be very functional. With the IT contacts that I already have, I outsourced the implementation of the site to a subcontractor but I actually designed the look and feel of the site myself because I knew what I wanted.
What are your main ambitions, to make a lot of money or enjoy what you do? Since I started in business many years ago the most important thing to me has always been to enjoy what I do (that is why I left university because I did not enjoy it). I have always believed as well that if you enjoy something and you work hard at it you will succeed in the end, which is what keeps me going. I believe that if it is not Wait ‘n’ Read then it will be something else that will enable me to fulfil all of my ambitions.
So what advice would you give to anyone thinking of starting a business? Firstly never be afraid to step into the unknown. Everything is a risk but as a business person you have to make it a calculated risk. Make sure that if your business does not work you are covered. If your business is successful plan ahead and always keep an open mind because nobody knows everything!