I invited Nick Green on YHP to share his story on his journey so far especially since starting printed.com.
Hi Nick, Thanks for doing this. How are you doing today?
Great thanks! Amongst other things, printed.com has just launched a new campaign in conjunction with Centrepoint so we’re very busy in the office.
Can you give us some background information about yourself?
I’m a born and bred Londoner. I left school and sold satellite dishes door to door as my first job. I then progressed to the Daily Telegraph classified sales department, before moving on to other companies such as Teletext and Advertising.com. After years of experience in this field, I started up Tangent with my family, the now parent company of printed.com.
Tell me how you initially got into business?
As you can see from my past experience, I left school and immediately developed an appetite for enterprise, going from door to door with my product. I’ve also always had a good work ethic and an ambition to create something successful, so business became the natural route for me. My brother is similar to me in this aspect, hence why we set up Tangent plc together.
How did the idea for printed.com come about?
We began with a trade printing site and after its success, we were confident that we could do more. From this point, we set out to bring innovation to the print sector, and to create a simple and accessible online shop that would challenge the way in which print is traditionally ordered.
Tell me about the early days, what was the hardest part of starting the business?
I think it would be not having extensive technical knowledge but we certainly learnt fast on our feet! As an entrepreneur, you have to be willing to absorb as much as you possibly can and think quickly. Although not initially an expert in technology, I threw myself into it with real entrepreneurial spirit.
What is printed.com? And what are you trying to solve with it?
We want to make life easier for people that want to order printed materials in a fun and more rewarding manner.
How have you been able to fund it?
Luckily printed.com has Tangent as a parent company, which has always done well in its own right, therefore printed.com started, and functions now, with great support.
What sorts of advice do you have for entrepreneurs looking to raise money for their startups?
My advice would be, don’t plan too far in advance – things change and you need to be able to adapt quickly.
About the first few months, how excited were you, tell us about how those months felt, what happened?
I still remember our first day that we earned £500, an incredible feat at the time! Other than that, I was very proud to see our team expanding and working together for the same core goal. The atmosphere carried a real buzz in the beginning, which still exists today, with everyone dedicated to working solidly to get the website up and running.
How did you initially get traction?
We put a lot of effort into our customer service and incentivising those that choose us, so repeat customers grew and our user base became more solid.
What are the most crucial things that you have done to grow your business?
In 2012 we launched a Reward Programme to thank our customers and to attract new ones. The programme works on a points-based system which customers can build up to spend on benefits such as printing, office stationary and a range of lifestyle options. It has already proven to be a success and guarantees that customers keep returning to printed.com.
What would you say has been the highlight of your entrepreneurial journey so far?
We have just launched an exciting new campaign with Centrepoint which I would say is definitely a highlight thus far. We have launched a competition on the printed.com Facebook page, which is aimed at young designers and challenges them to create a piece of direct mail.
The idea is that the mailer promotes Centrepoint’s involvement with ‘give as you live’, a downloadable widget which allows consumers to effortlessly donate to charity whilst they shop online. We’ve also assembled a highly esteemed judging panel of top creatives from the likes of Karmarama, Wunderman and BBH. The winning design will then be mailed out to up to 5,000 recipients, great exposure for an up and coming designer!
What should we be expecting from yourself and the printed.com team for 2013?
This year we are expanding internationally across Europe, and then the US. We’re also extending our range beyond traditional printed material, to non-printed such as t-shirts. We have a busy 2013 ahead but we can’t wait for the challenge and to see the printed.com concept thrive in new markets.
Lastly, what three pieces of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today?
Firstly, try not to focus on creating vastly extensive plans; they will change along the way. Secondly, create some core values and cling onto them as your business grows. Thirdly, get out there and meet people - you never know which connections might come in handy in the future!