This Entrepreneurial Story is about Charles Cridland who Founded ‘MessageTheManager’ located in London, UK.
The founder is Charles Cridland. He founded his first online business in 2006 after leaving the University of Warwick where he got a Masters degree in Marketing. His first online business was YourParkingSpace.co.uk, a private parking space marketplace, which still operates successfully today. Since the start of 2010 he’s been working full-time on his own business in the area of affiliate marketing and internet startups.
When Started: August 2013
What motivated you to start your Business?
I was sitting in a coffee shop one day and the idea just hit me – wouldn’t it be good if I could anonymously text any ideas that I have directly to the manager of the coffee shop. Often you want to suggest or request something – whether it’s to turn down the music, bring back your favorite cake, or just praise a particular staff member – but it’s not always something you want to do in person.
Tell us about your Business
I always describe MessageTheManager as a tool which turns the mobile phones of your customers into a dual comment card and suggestion box. With just about everyone having a mobile phone nowadays there’s no need to stick with the traditional comment cards and suggestion boxes to get feedback from your customers. Instead why not let them text the manager directly.
From a business point of view it makes sense. You get real-time feedback from your customers, allowing you to deal with any problems before that customer goes away and posts a negative review online, and your customers often have the best ideas when it comes to how your business can improve.
What is a Day in a life of you like?
It’s very varied, no day is the same. It tends to start with a cup of tea and a scan of my emails. After this the day can involve anything from meetings with restaurants and coffee shops to marketing tasks.
One particular skill you got right and gave you best results.
The main skill I’ve probably got right is actually simply explaining the idea to potential customers like restaurant and coffee shop managers. I’m not a natural sales person and it’s taken a little time to refine exactly what MessageTheManager does in a succinct pitch. But now I’m there – turning every customer’s mobile phone into a dual comment card and suggestion box is the explanation which really helps people to understand what it does.
What have been your biggest challenges in running your Business so far?
The biggest challenge was getting the business off the ground. When it was launched I had no idea which marketing channel would be most effective so the ROI on marketing spend was low.
How did you overcome these challenges?
Test, test and test again. A whole array of marketing channels were tested, refined, and tested again, until a few started to show results.
What have you found the most effective way to get new clients?
So far I’ve actually found that direct approaches have been the most successful method, offering a free trial together with personal support. Our customers – predominantly restaurants, pubs and coffee shops – have responded very well to that.
What advice do you give to other business owners?
Be committed and determined. Sometimes the business stories that we hear make us think that business success comes overnight. The vast majority of the time it doesn’t. It takes work, you have to be determined and tenacious, but once you have some momentum it all becomes a lot easier.
How did you keep motivated through difficult times?
I’ve launched internet start-ups in the past so I have first-hand experience that things can initially be harder than you might expect. With the right expectations and belief in what you’re doing you can stay motivated.
What are your Marketing, Funding and Team Building Strategy?
On the financial side everything has been funded in-house. The strategy is to keep it this way for the foreseeable future. With marketing a whole host of methods have been tested, from PPC to Twitter and Linkedin advertising, old-style direct mail, and simply approaching potential customers directly.
We’re still a very new business so we’re yet to have any big achievements, but getting our first customer was a big thrill a couple of weeks ago and we’re now receiving some great feedback from the first businesses that signed up.
What’s your favorite quote?
“All of your customers are partners in your mission” – it’s a quote from Shep Hyken, a customer service expert. It’s a good reminder that all customers should be valued and their insights sought and listened to. It’s what MessageTheManager is all about – giving managers a direct line of communication with their customers.
Who inspires you?
Peter Jones, famous here in the UK from Dragons’ Den, is a big inspiration. He’s built up his fortune from scratch twice, having first lost everything when he was in his twenties. To lose your home and business, have to move back home to live with your parents, but then pick yourself up and build a successful company all over again shows great character.
Do you have a Business Philosophy?
It’s to try not to focus on the money too much as that can lead to short term strategies and decisions that aren’t in the company’s long-term interest. If I had a business philosophy it would be to try to create the best business that you can, in the eyes of your customers. Success and profit will then naturally follow.
Startup Freak wishes Charles Cridland, All the Best!