In the latest part to our One Year On series, we would like to introduce you to cost-saving postal service, UNI-Post. Aiming to lower costs on postal services and available to both business and individual customers, UNI-Post continues to use trustworthy mail service Royal Mail in a simple to use arrangement. Founder and CEO, Justin Messenger is an enthusiastic and tell-it-as-it-is type of entrepreneur, with some great insights in starting up his own business. Read on for his stimulating story and how he found Transmit Startups of benefit when starting up.
What is the nature of your business and why did you choose a Start Up Loan over other types of finance?
The nature of our business is mail and parcel deliveries specialising in hybrid mail solutions. We chose a start up loan as a spin off to a local event Venturefest where we were hoping to attract some investment. But we soon found out that the investment arena is a very complex and challenging world as well as very BLUNT. However at this event we met Richard Myers who came across as very quiet, interested and knowledgeable showing empathy towards what we were trying to achieve and more importantly explained briefly what the startup loan would offer. From there we setup a separate meeting before I was passed to one of his team for the all important due diligence or for us paperwork.
This involved a business plan review etc which we already had in place, so no dramas, but something every small business should have, to give them some measure as to where their business is going. And it's a great tool to share with those you choose to, so they understand your business and more importantly your vision. 3 to 4 weeks later the money was in the bank and we were off and running.
What has your business achieved over the last year? What is your favourite success story to date?
I suppose we've achieved many things such as one of the final 6 in the ‘If you can we can’ challenge, we've survived our first year without an overdraft and we've purchased our first van.
However the largest success stories are the fact that we've saved a small but national charity thousands of pounds in time and postage costs, helping them do more with the little they have, and we even have a testimonial to prove it. We have our very own hybrid mail corporate video. We've created an ADD ON for all those Xero users so they can invoice by post if they wish to do so.
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We've won business with a local Energy company sending daily volume with us, as well as three other local businesses with national reach - one specialising in heat reduction systems; the second being a signage and print business sending items all over the UK and world; and the final one being a fuel poverty charity, again allowing them to do more with the money they raise, which in turn benefits those in serious need.
Finally we've won a place on the Entrepreneurial Spark programme with NATWEST and RBS starting in August 2016 (can't wait).
Spin offs - We've created another business specialising in print - consolidating lots of little business orders and negotiating greater discounts that we pass on to our clients e.g. 500 business cards ordered and paid for before 12 at 400 gsm matt laminate finish delivered next day for for only £30 plus vat where applicable.
Messymagpie is about to be launched specialising in greeting cards but designed by local artists with a small biography on the rear to provide not just income to them but recognition for their talent.
Beebaye has just been launched (still working on the website) however it specialises in house, factory, office and business clearances and donates a lot to charitable causes to ensure not everything goes to landfill aiding the environment.
What have you learnt from the first year in business? Is there anything you would do differently?
Yes I've learnt a lot, even though I consider myself quite knowledgeable when it comes to business. I'd spend more time focusing on making it easier to understand what we do, making our message simple. Giving people a reason to change now, that is a challenge! Identify who my customers could be and that sometimes NO is the PERFECT answer.
Would you recommend a Start Up Loan from Transmit Startups to other businesses? How beneficial was the free business support?
Yes, I already have and it helped an associate of mine in Peterborough - the free business support is probably where I believe both Transmit and ourselves have not ensured we capitalise on these opportunities, eg I do not know what we are entitled to but have never asked or looked to find out - likewise Transmit haven't really pushed this to us either, however I do admit if you want something you have to go and get it, no one will do it for you.
Over-riding all of this is Richard Myers himself, without him I do not believe Transmit would be the success it is and it's a shame other organisations do not have more like him.
If you could give one tip to a new entrepreneur, what would it be?
Do not let negatives stand in your way but be real and VERY, VERY honest with yourself about your capabilities and that of your business. Remember going into business for yourself doesn't just impact on you, it impacts all of those close to you especially your family.
If you’re now feeling enthused by Justin’s story and fancy looking into the next steps to setting up your own business, register with us now!