From the classrooms of South Kensington to homes across the continent, Michael Pawlicki (MSc Strategic Marketing 2012) successfully delivered his low-cost European removal business, VanOne.
Over the last four years the fleet has grown to over 40 vans and 48 staff. Here he shares his story on this road to success.
“I first got the idea for developing a low-priced European removal business when I was sitting in my Business School lecture on the changes and effect online technology has had on consumer services.
“At the time I had a part-time position promoting the European freight services online and thought of what my tutor had said about how value is created with co-creation in services. That led me to consider an inexpensive international moving service, specifically designed for people with low-budgets wanting to move across Europe at affordable prices.
“Introducing co-creation into the European moving industry was a pioneering task. My team and I knew that if we built an algorithm to automate service pricing for international removals and offered an online booking service like the airlines do, we’d be the first within the UK market to so this. However I almost overlooked an important aspect for ‘start-ups theory’; the ‘First Mover Advantage’. Our customers had no experience in using the online tools developed for them, one of the disadvantages of being first on the market.
“This presented an unexpected challenge. We soon realised that our customers were more comfortable handling their removal needs over the phone or meeting with removal representatives from the company, as opposed to online. To overcome this we enhanced the online user experience with the creation of videos and photographs, graphically illustrating the service provided. Our website if full of visual aids and interactive advice to support customers through every step of the process.”
However as Michael explains, starting your own business is not an easy challenge, no matter how prepared you are. “I’ve realised over the last few years that starting a business on your own is a lengthy process and at times I longed for a business partner to complement my skills with new abilities and knowledge.
No matter how committed and skilled your team might be, the ultimate responsibility for turning your idea into a viable business lies solely on your shoulders.
“It is also essential to understand the need to have a proper financial management plan in place from the onset, as without this, no matter how great your marketing and technology strategies may be, the business will not succeed in the long term.
“My advice to fellow entrepreneurs is to carefully consider what exactly they want to achieve from starting their own business and importantly, how will they finance it? I think there’s a current trend in the UK that encourages young entrepreneurs to start their businesses with venture capital which isn’t a bad idea, but personally I believe the market still offers great opportunities for entrepreneurs who want their business to grow organically.
“The knowledge I gained from the Business School regarding marketing strategies and gaining competitive advantages has not only altered my thoughts on business, but also shaped the operational structure of VanOne. Since graduating my team and I transformed the company from a start-up comprising three men and one van to a company that now has a fleet of over 40 vans and 48 staff members.
“I am very proud of my business and believe its success lies in the determination of our staff to maintain low prices together with a convenient, safe, speedy and reliable service that offers benefit our customers. By combining online technology that’s easy to use with low-cost logistics, VanOne today is a mix of technology, economic and human resources, factors that are difficult to replicate – that’s what makes it unique!
“My next challenge is to research the European Express Road Freight Transportation market with the aim to offer faster European logistic solutions to businesses in the UK.”
Have you started your own business? Are you inspired by Michael’s story? If so get in touch and share you own business journey with us: firstname.lastname@example.org