AFTER turning down two offers to sell because it hadn’t reached its peak, Vroomvroomvroom co-founder Richard Eastes (pictured) says growth is at the top of the agenda for FY12.
One of the biggest challenges for the hire car company is keeping its door shut to potential buyers – for now.
“It’s been an interesting year, we had a couple of good offers to buy the company, but we didn’t go through with it because we hadn’t grown for a couple of years and we want to sell in the middle of a high,” says Eastes.
“There’s still more we can do to grow the company and there’s a good vibe in the office for us to grow again.
“Every offer of the sale had a tick in the right box, except we’d just had two years without growth and potential buyers want to buy a company that’s still growing, which will also get us a better price when it does come time to sell.
“We have three key areas of growth we’d like to focus on – campervans, our sister websites featuring relocation deals of campervans and cars for $1 and the third is to expand into the UK and the US.
“We already have offices in each of these markets, but we’ve been spending too much time developing the technology and not enough time developing the brand and customer base.”
After keeping staff numbers ‘lean and mean’, Eastes says he is now hiring staff for the first time in two years.
“We haven’t hired staff quickly – we’ve got 12 staff worldwide and we’re competing with companies that have more than 100 staff, so our biggest challenge has been getting jobs done quickly. We’ve started outsourcing and we’re about to take on two more people, which will be our first hire in 24 months,” he says.
“Over the past couple of years, while companies were interested in buying us, all we were concerned about was our profit, which was great. We realised that we needed to hire more staff in order to grow though, so we’ve stopped focusing entirely on profit and we’re hiring staff so we can grow instead.”
Eastes says he may look at selling the company again in the next couple of years.
“We have a good relationship with the companies that wanted to buy our company and we do some work for them. It just wasn’t the right time for us, so we’re heads down and working hard so that in two years time we can look at any offers again,” he says.
Eastes bought the company with his brother David and friend Peter Thornton for $500,000.
“We were doing some work for the company, which was struggling and the previous owner wanted out, so we put our money together and bought it. I was living with my parents at the time and saving formy first house but I spent the $50,000 on the business instead,” he says.
“I had to live with my parents for another two years, but it was a good move in the end. David put in $25,000 and Peter put in the rest. The company wasn’t making much money at the time so it was difficult to figure out where to spend that money first, but within a few months, it was covering its costs and profits started increasing.
“Now that we’ve dominated the comparison market, our new competitors are the airlines, which have also started offering comparisons, so another focus for us will be to convince our customers that our website is easier to use and provides a better service as we compare more companies than the airlines do.”
YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR FINALIST
Business Est: 2001
Turnover: $5 million
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