Daniel Thomas, now 23, launched his online hot tub
and spa site Danz.co.uk five years ago. He has grown the
business organically to become the market leader in the UK,
predicting a turnover of more than £1m this year. Here, the young
entrepreneur shares how he first got started in business, his
smartest decisions, plans for the future and growth
I'd been keen to go into business ever since I left school to
study computing at college. I decided to make some extra cash by
selling protective phone covers on eBay which I imported from
China. I was only 16 but was bringing in decent money and enjoyed
being able to support myself.
As my confidence grew so did the range of products I sold. I
started listing projector screens, LCD TV brackets and even golf
karts, all of which were also imported from China. The bigger the
product the better my relationship with the Chinese distributors -
which stood me in good stead for future business developments.
My philosophy was simple - find a profitable market and provide
greater value for money than my competitors. As the products got
bigger, so did my margins and it felt like the sky was the
I left college after two enjoyable years with good A-level
results, and planned to go to university to study computer science.
Looking back it's fair to say that would've been the worst decision
I could've made.
I knew that with business going so well I couldn't afford to put
things on hold for three years. I might've been able to get a
degree but I knew that I'd always be wondering what if, had I not
given the business my full attention.
Decision made, I decided to focus solely on selling spas and hot
tubs. They were popular products and I could offer them at a much
better rate than the industry's incumbent firms. As they were high
value items I was able to concentrate on quality sales, a very
different approach to the one I'd used selling phone covers.
I registered the company Danz Ltd in 2006 and knew that if I
wanted to grow the business I could no longer rely solely on eBay
sales - so I decided to launch my own website to supply the British
and French markets.
The site was a big hit and the orders continued to rush in, I
was soon running the UK's biggest online hot tub and spa retailer
all by myself, operating out of my bedroom.
Business rocketed and by 2007, aged 19, I was turning over
£60,000. I kept on building steadily, keen to make sure I didn't
overstretch myself. By the time I was 20 I was turning over
£300,000, five times more than two years before.
Last year I took on my first two employees, one from France to
help develop my links to the French market and the other to help
with the company's customer service offering.
It's fair to say the business has taken several knocks along the
way with one of the biggest being imitators entering the market
through eBay. They undercut our prices and sales dropped overnight
but thanks to our website and some strong marketing we were able to
make it through, just. It was a real eye-opener and I was forced to
sell the brand new Audi A3 I'd bought less than a year before.
Looking back one of the best decisions I made was setting up as
an online only business, saving money on maintaining a fancy
showroom. This helped me sells tubs for under £2,000 which opens
them up to a much larger market.
Studying computing at college has also served me really well as
I've been able to create my own software to use on the site which
gives me more control and saves on cost.
Business has been growing steadily and already this year we've
turned over more than £0.5m, something I'm extremely proud of.
However, like all entrepreneurs you're always looking to take
things on to the next level and breaking the million pound barrier
will be a real accomplishment.
We have plans to move to our own warehouse facility in the
summer to allow us to store a larger quantity of stock and deliver
to customers quicker. We also hope to take on another team member,
so it's fair to say we're planning big and hoping to continue to
grow for many years to come.
more about Danz.co.uk