Young Marmalade: Nigel Lacy

The Young Marmalade co-founder on getting young drivers into safer cars

Not all 17-year old drivers are tracksuit wearing boy racers with a penchant for souped-up Citroen Saxos with noisy exhausts and enormous spoilers. Unfortunately insurance companies don’t usually go in for distinctions, and if you’re lucky enough to secure a driving licence before your 25th birthday, the simple fact is you’re going to pay through the nose for your insurance premium. And can we really blame the insurers? One in five young drivers has a crash within a year of passing their test. That’s a pretty damning statistic, but it’s one that masks a wider issue according to Nigel Lacy, co-founder of Young Marmalade.

“One of the reasons the crash rate is so high for young drivers is they’re driving rubbish cars,” explains Lacy. “We approached insurance companies and said look, if we can get young drivers into newer, safer cars there’s a lower risk. Will give us a decent premium?”

Young Marmalade combines the purchase or leasing of new or nearly new cars with a first year insurance premium which undercuts mainstream market by miles. The company is supported by twelve car manufacturers who are happy to supply the firm with reduced rates in exchange for securing customers in their formative driving years. “Everybody remembers their first car,” says Lacy. “Provided it’s a decent one you tend to stick with that brand. The car manufacturers we spoke to saw the value of that.”

Family friends

The Young Marmalade team has been together for quite a few years, although the company as it currently stands didn’t emerge until 2007. Nigel had been working with father and son Nick and Crispin Mojer since 2000 on a car leasing firm, but after getting countless requests from parents about supplying their youngsters with vehicles they decided to branch out into the youth market.

The original leasing business was doing well so they were able to grow Young Marmalade almost completely organically with the help of bit of bank finance. The online platform was also a development of the previous business which kept web costs low too. Lacy now intends to double the company’s profile with a few new additions to the service offering; the first of which is Provisional Marmalade, insurance designed specifically for those learning to drive.

“We get about 10,000 new people looking at the site every month, but a million people pass their test each year, so we’ve still only reached 10% of the market for new drivers.” Lacy sees Provisional Marmalade as a way of safeguarding Young Marmalade and dramatically boosting its traffic, with provisional drivers naturally progressing to the older offering once they’ve passed their test.

Lacy is also confident they can keep competitors at bay. His reasoning is that manufacturers can’t offer the deal as they don’t provide insurance, while the insurers, in turn, can’t provide the cars. “We have good relationships with insurers and manufacturers. We’re not being complacent but we think it would be very difficult for somebody else to come into the market trying to do what we’re doing.”

Young Marmalade was crowned Most Original Business Concept in the 2008 BT Essence of the Entrepreneur competition. To enter this year’s competition visit www.essenceoftheentrepreneur.co.uk for more information

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