The 99p entrepreneur

Young buck Suleman Sacranie dropped out of university to launch online discount operator 99p Shopper in July and already has dreams of floating the company.

How did you get started with 99pShopper?

The concept came to me while I was lying in the bath. At the time online shopping had taken off and I was thinking that if I opened one store I could only attract local customers, whereas with an online proposition I can aim at the whole European market.

What’s the appeal for shoppers?

It is the first discount store selling goods online at 99p. This makes it convenient for such types as ex-pats who want to get hold of their favourite British brands.

How did you finance the idea?

I started with £500 in my bank account and was trying to get companies to support the project. I approached a variety of backers but was rejected. At first I thought I could get a £300 website that looked a million dollars but that wasn’t the case. In the end I went to around 28 different web companies – I was initially quoted £35,000 but managed to get my site set up for £5,000.

What growth opportunities can you see for the firm?

Recently we have had more than 500 franchising enquiries from people interested in opening stores across the UK and Europe and we are looking at getting a franchising model in place. Once we have the retail outlets I am hoping to float the company.

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?

Do not outsource your web development outside the UK. I tried and it was a terrible experience. It has taken every ounce of determination and self belief to come back from that and make the site a success.

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