Stephen Tells us how it all Started
Stephen Leguillon started his first business at 16, Now he runs his own company which he Co-Founded with two of his friends Steve Barnes and Velin Djidjev, E-resistible.co.uk - An online takeaway website where you can place orders directly to restaurants, rate and review restaurants according to your own experience.
In this interview Stephen talks about:
Starting his first business at 16
Leaving paris and relocating to the UK
How he started E-resistible
The Most difficult part of starting his own business
The Growth of his company
Plans for the future and more...
Enjoy the Interview and don't forget to leave comments.
What was it like to run your own business at the age of 16?
My first business venture was entirely based on my entertainment, so it wasn’t really to hard to get started as there was really something in it for me. I was organising parties and events for groups of students and taking part in them. I think that having this challenge at a young age was very constructive. Being young I was kind of fearless which in turn helped me to get things done very quickly. I had a lot of support from experienced people, both family and other business owners, and after the first members were signed up and event organised, things started flowing perfectly.
I had to tone down my involvement in this business to pass my Baccalaureate, but luckily there were some other people to pick it up!
Can you give us some background information about yourself?
I am a Co-Founder and Director of E-resistible.co.uk. I moved from Paris to the UK when I was 17 to study a BSc in Management at Warwick Business School from which I graduated last year.
A couple of months into my 1st Year, I came up with the concept of E-resistible – an online takeaway website. It took me a year secure appropriate funding, build a team and find the right people to support the business. With this in place and having asked my two friends, Steve Barnes and Velin Djidjev, to co-found E-resistible, it only took six months for the site was ready. It launched in the Midlands and took off instantly.
I now live in London from where I run E-resistible. I focus on the company’s long-term strategic deals as well as national and international expansion.
Did you feel you missed out parts of your childhood what with the responsibility of owning your own business?
I would say that it brought an additional dimension to my childhood and growing up. Everyone has certain activities and certain things they enjoy when at school and growing up. For me, it was running projects and essentially doing business. I believe it is essential to have fun in anything you do, and I had loads of fun then and do now with E-resistible.
How did it feel leaving your business in Paris and relocating to the UK?
I actually had to reduce my involvement in the business in Paris to focus on my Baccalaureate. After applications for universities were done, I had received an offer from Warwick Business School requiring a certain score at the exam. Moreover, this business was focussed on students who were all in exams then too, so there was less demand for our services. It wasn’t very hard leaving it behind, as this first business venture was pretty much an experience, an adventure. Having made it work was enough for me and I was ready to move on to bigger things. Although when I got to the UK I had already decided I would be setting something up as soon as possible. The second I relocated I was already looking for a venture to get involved in or start up.
How did you come up with the idea of E-resistible? And please give us a little insight into what it is?
E-resistible is an online takeaway website. Established in November 2007, its focus has been to serve the local takeaway market. E-resistible.co.uk enables customers to place orders to their local restaurants directly on the Internet. It serves as an intermediary, transferring orders placed online to restaurants.
From the start, I had a clear vision of E-resistible being a unique market place connecting customers to their local takeaways. The service to the customers has been and will always be free of charge. They have the choice to rate and review restaurants according to their own experiences. Competition between the restaurants will be based solely on what they can offer to the customers – quality of the food, quality of the service and price.
I initially came up with this concept when arriving at Warwick. I believe it is possible to come up with business ideas simply by observing your environment. You often hear about famous entrepreneurs who take time off every now and again to observe people and their habits and see what can be done better. I took that approach. The takeaway market was totally new to me, food delivery is not very popular in France. So when I moved to the UK, I saw this new culture and that there was a lack of information for customers who actually wanted to spend money! They just needed a platform to do it easily.
How long did it take for you to get E-resistible ‘off the ground’?
I started building the idea in the context of a module at Warwick Business School called The Integrative Project, which was a Dragons’ Den style module where all 350 1st year undergraduates are divided into groups of 6 and are told to come up with a business idea to pitch to investors. This involved constructing a business plan and doing some market research.
I recall the pitch going so well that one of the judges asked me “where do I sign”. When I got out of there, I couldn’t have been more motivated. I was not particularly close to the team members in that module and a couple of months later, after having done a little more market research myself, I asked Velin Djidjev and Steve Barnes to have a go at it with me.
The first set was incorporating the business, which was quickly done in November 2007. We took a little more time to get the site up and running with our first partner restaurants around Warwick Campus. Once we launched in May 2008, E-resistible met a real and strong success. All students started ordering and we decided to take it to another level.
E-resistible grew by over 6900% in 2008. It has placed itself as an intermediary between over 400 restaurants and over 14,000 customers in the UK.
What do you feel is the USP of e-resistible- especially in light of your other competitors? How does you website differ?
You will find out that some of our competitors have more restaurants than us – a wider coverage. However, we differentiate ourselves by selecting the outlets on e-resistible very carefully and removing bad performing ones. It takes us longer to expand, partly because we are a younger company, and mainly because we strive to find the right outlets for our users – not just all the outlets in an area. Quality of the user experience is key to us, we don’t just wait for customers to find us – we build loyalty by providing to ultimate on stop shop for we make sure we offer a substantial variety of types of food in areas we cover, some of our competitors have many restaurants in some towns but these turn out to only be kebab shops and pizza outlets.
In terms of usability, E-resistible has a great advantage when it comes to design and speed of the site. As you can see the design of the site is a lot more modern and up to date, matching the needs of the student and young professional market. Similarly, in terms of usability, our menu pages are a lot better as there is no scrolling involved, we have sliding sections, which no other sites have replicated. Another example of this is the real time search function on menus. The second we implemented this feature, it took an average of 30% less time to place an order! Same goes with the customisation of items ordered, with our competitors, there is an additional step to add for example extra toppings, all is done in our options underneath dishes. All these features really enhance the user experience and orders are placed a lot quicker on our site.
An important feature of e-resistible is that we verify through our call centre (owned and managed exclusively by and for e-resistible) that each and every order goes according to plan and the users have a trouble free experience.
Our commitment to user comfort is therefore key and I trust it cannot be found anywhere else.
How did it feel to win the ‘Be your own boss’ competition?
The swings you can get in confidence when running you own start-up are devastating. One day you can be full of energy and the next completely depressed. But I notice today that to real valuable work you do is when you have a positive state of mind. Getting recognition from peers can give you the extra bit of boost you need to get real things moving.
Building the confidence to start E-resistible from scratch depended on the success I had in the pitch at Warwick Business School. But winning the Be your own boss competition was a lot more important – it gave us the strength to give E-resistible a real full-time shot. After the competition we got an article published in The Independent which pushed our business a great deal.
What would you say has been the most difficult part of starting your business and how did you overcome it?
The hardest part I faced with my colleagues came down to the day-to-day issues we hadn’t thought of initially. Moving from a business plan to actually running it is where a lot of entrepreneurs get stuck and the first few decisions can be crucial. I realised that when having to deal with these troubles, the best way around it is to take a snap decision and see where it brings you. For example, when we started off we had problems getting our revenue from restaurant owners who wouldn’t pay up. This strain on the cash flow had turned into something quite dangerous for our success. Something had to be done and we took some snap decisions as to stop working with some restaurants and modifying our revenue collection methods, being a lot more direct with the third parties.
Since inception, how do you feel your business has grown?
E-resistible has grown a tremendous amount – over 6900% in 2008. From our small launch in May 2008, with just 16 restaurants and a few orders from our friends, we have build a network of 400 restaurants, covering over 30 cities connecting over 14,000 users to their local takeaways daily. And we are still growing strong, this growth is just accelerating!
What has been your most memorable moment so far?
The most memorable moment was the first day we launched E-resistible, in May 2008. It had taken a huge amount of work to get to that moment. E-resistible had been started from scratch and none of us really knew what we were doing. We had pitched the concept to the first partner restaurants without even having anything to show them or knowing how it would all work. Naturally we were the first to place an order but seeing the slow trickle of orders enter our administration section was the most gratifying and stressful feeling ever.
What do you do for fun when you’re not thinking of your company?
I’m not sure I can say I spend much time not thinking about E-resistible. It think when you start your own company, as soon as you do anything after that, you start wondering how you could apply it to business. I am now relatively involved with mentoring other student aspiring entrepreneurs. I truly have a passion for all this and believe it can be one of the best experiences anyone can go through in their career and personal development. Last month I was kindly invited to UCL and Aston University to share my experience with their entrepreneur societies and give my bit of advice – I hope to push this side of my activities a little more.
However, I have been known to play my fair share of poker, having been involved in the Warwick Poker Society where there are a lot of very good players
What advices to do you have for other young entrepreneurs also hoping to enter the internet industry?
I believe something which is often underestimated in the internet industry is the importance of the offline activities. Naturally this depends on the company, but in the case of E-resistible it was key to get things done right out in the “real” world. From this, I would say the most important thing is building the right team with enough people to succeed both online and offline. To a certain extent this is the only way these business can thrive and luckily I found the perfect people for E-resistible. There is a gap between what some excellent programmers can do online and the results they would expect. Bringing in some people to push the more business-orientated side of things is crucial.
What should we be expecting from you in the future?
For the time being I am completely committed to E-resistible. We plan to push it nationwide and internationally – as soon as possible. However, as the business grows and more people can get involved, I can take a more overview approach to my day to day activities.
I come up with a lot of business ideas, a lot of them stupider than others but with the team I work with today, there are a lot of things we could do. So you can expect many more businesses and a huge success from E-resistible!
Thanks stepehen for sharing your story and taking time to do this interview, I wish you the very best in the future.