Tubs of promise

Twenty-three year old entrepreneur Daniel Thomas launched online hot tub retailer Danz.co.uk in 2006 and is now expecting a turnover of £1 million.

How did you get the idea?

When I was in college I was selling screen protectors on eBay. I would buy them from China for 50p and sell them for £2.50. I sold hundreds every week and, at that age, that was good money. I decided to move onto higher margin products like projector screens. Eventually I thought that instead of selling all these unrelated products, I should stick to one that I was passionate about and represented a good profit.

How did you finance it?

Originally financing wasn’t an issue, I started with enough money to put down a deposit on containers from China. I don’t have any office space; it’s all done from a bedroom with things like distribution and warehousing done by third parties. Overall, overheads are low, allowing us to be competitive.

How did you source a supplier?

I did it through an online business marketplace, which made it ten times easier. Without that, there’s no easy way of doing it. At 23 years old it’s difficult to tap into the right resources, experience-wise. I don’t have access to millions of mentors.

How did you get the word out?

Marketing has been trial and error. The majority of our advertising spend has been on AdWords. We have tried things like email campaigns and magazine exposure, but we’ve found AdWords has been the most effective thing for bringing the right people to our page.

Have there been any stumbling blocks?

Earlier this year I took the decision to withdraw from the French market after a slowdown in sales. Servicing the market was becoming increasingly difficult and while we had experienced some initial success, increasing sales required making many changes to the company. We had to build France-specific systems including new networks of engineers, delivery contracts and relationships with tradesmen, all of which took a lot of time and effort.

Over time these changes ate away at our margins and we ended up barely covering our French overheads, so I took the decision to withdraw and focus on British customers.

What’s next for Danz.co.uk?

We’re trying to diversify, looking to bring in other products like steam room showers which we think can compliment the range. We also want to grow the hot tub side of things too; we’re in the process of looking for a showroom facility. That will help us to tap into a whole load of people up and down the country who may be unwilling to spend that sort of money without seeing someone in the flesh.

Alan Dobie

Alan Dobie

Alan was assistant editor at Vitesse Media Plc (previous owner of smallbusiness.co.uk) before moving on to a content producer role at Reed Business Information. He has over 17 years of experience in the...

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