We catch up with Kristjan Novitski founder of short term loan provider Peachy. I find out how he got started (Hint: it wasn't quick and easy), what inspired him to keep going and how he went from £0 to £11million in just 2 years. Read the full interview below:
Can you give me a bit of background to yourself?
I’ve worked in finance for six years now. I was 27 when I set up Peachy.co.uk in 2010 after working for another financial services company, offering short-term loans in the UK. I attained a degree in Product Engineering at Tallinn University of Technology and started my career in wholesale and retail, responsible for the Baltic market for a Swedish automotive accessory wholesaler.
Tell me about Peachy:
The company has now supplied more than 400,000 short term loans to people all over the UK since 6th June 2011 with the majority of our customers based in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow and Liverpool. Of the 12,600 average weekly claims we receive, just 7% are approved, highlighting the strict checks we have in place. Loans range from £50 to £500 and we offer unique multiple repayment options that give customers a choice of when and how they wish to repay. The company now employs more than 50 people and is a fully regulated and reliable company that has received rave reviews from their customers – the majority of whom return again to help with their finances.
What was the inspiration behind it?
For me being an entrepreneur meant freedom, I wanted to be my own boss and set my own hours so I could spend precious time with my family. My inspiration to set up my own company came from wanting a change of life, I didn’t want to be just another employee any more. Precious moments with your children, especially when they are young, is something that cannot be compared to anything else. I wanted to be there when they made their first steps or say their first words while still being able to take care of them financially. I had ideas that I wanted to explore and share with others, going to work for someone else every day just didn’t make sense.
What did you do to get your first 100 customers?
For an online company like ours, getting the first 100 customers is not a big challenge and back then Google Adwords did the trick. Getting 100 new customers every hour is where it gets tricky.
What sort of growth have you experienced?
Growing the company at a rate of 100% every month for the first 6 months was not easy and the company’s structure had to be able to keep up with the pace. Our aim was to build a solid foundation first to be able to scale fast.
What are your revenues?
We started trading in 2011 and the revenue of the company grew in 2012 almost 20 fold compared to the year before.
Our revenue in 2013 was £11,320,000
Your service is built around a lot of trust, what did you do, and how did you show that to the customer, to earn that trust?
Our core beliefs are based upon the three ‘Es’ – Expectations Exceeding Experience. We want all of our customers’ expectations to be exceeded. We also want to provide a trust-worthy and reliable service, creating long-term relationships with clients who know we are there when they need us – and who we can rely on to pay us back. We only offer our services to people who really need us, rather than something that can be exploited by people who will simply drive further and further into debt. We are always there for our customers – even if their financial circumstances have changed during the term of the loan agreement.
What was the main challenge you had when starting up?
At times you can feel very alone. I spent almost 2 years making more than 50 presentations to find someone who was willing to share my vision. With each presentation I learnt from my mistakes and improved my plans. I was happy to get the right people on board at the end. If gave up after a year and a half I would not be there I am now and Peachy would never have happened.
How did you overcome it?
My greatest inspiration was my first son. He spent his first six months fighting for his life. How could I give up on my dreams when at 6 months old he never once gave up?
Did you always want to start your own business?
Starting my own business was not an objective for me in its own, but after working for several international companies, I understood that, with my nature, it was the best fit.
How do you manage a team as it grows fast? Ensuring you continue to work efficiently and keep the culture?
I hire the right people to manage the teams and try to set an example for everyone. I might not know what all 55 employees are doing every day, but I am always there for them if they have a problem, need to discuss their ideas or share responsibility for decisions.
What tip would you give any first time entrepreneurs?
The one thing that every entrepreneur should know is that running a business is one of the hardest things that you are ever going to do – and if you want to succeed, you must never give up. If you had said to me in 2008 how hard this was going to be I wouldn’t have taken the challenge back then. But it has been worth it; you just need to remember that life is going to hit you but it doesn’t matter how hard you get hit, it only matters how fast you get back up again and keep going.
Thanks Kristjan , lots of great advice there.
We heard Kristjan core beliefs, what are your businesses?