Each week we catch up with a different entrepreneur to discover what makes them tick, their top tips and more. This week we spend five minutes with Andy Oldham, MD of Quidco.
Hi Andy! What is Quidco and how did you become involved?
Founded in 2005 by two students, Quidco has quickly risen to become the largest online cashback platform in the UK. Now accounting for 1% of all UK online spend, it boasts over five million members and 4,300 retail partners.
I joined Quidco in 2010 because I was keen to be a part of this success story, and to leave my own mark on an exciting consumer tech proposition with a bright future.
What time does your day usually start and end?
I leave the house bright and early at 6:30qm, and I’ll usually arrive at the office an hour later. I rarely leave any later than 6:30pm – that’s usually more than enough to get through all of the important tasks in a day. Even when workloads build up and you feel like you’re spinning dozens of different plates, making sure you take time for yourself is important. Not just for family or personal reasons, but to maintain your energy and focus throughout the week.
What is your favourite part of your job and what is your least favourite part?
Being involved in such a dynamic business, which is at the forefront of new technology in the retail space, makes for a really diverse and exciting role. We’re also really fortunate to have a growing team of young, bright, energetic and ambitious people. Bouncing off of them and picking their brains is one of the day-to-day pleasures of the role.
After spending a lot of time at large, blue chip consultancy firms, I’ve grown to really enjoy the flexibility of a privately funded enterprise. We can be more fleet of foot than businesses with external investors or larger corporates. Quidco is an agile organisation, able try new things as and when required, which enables us to maintain our momentum and steal a march on our competitors. It’s this agility that has allowed us to become the first UK business to offer in-app integration with Uber.
In terms of my least favourite, that’s easy; like most people working in the City, it’s the daily commute!
What has been the biggest challenge for your business?
The business was founded back in May 2005. Back in those days the world of affiliate – now performance – marketing was really embryonic and the concept of cashback was virtually unknown among marketers and consumers.
The biggest challenge we’ve faced, as Europe’s largest cashback group, is driving consumer awareness of how cashback works, establishing trust and forging a path with the rest of our supply chain to deliver a great customer experience. As the leader in our market we take the responsibility very seriously and have invested a tremendous amount to establish industry practices that are adopted across the wider market.
What do you feel are the biggest obstacles to growth for SMEs in the UK?
For ambitious SMEs that aspire to grow I think the biggest obstacle is attracting and retaining the best talent. In the wider eCommerce industry there’s such a battleground for talent at the moment. Start-ups are able to attract the more entrepreneurially-minded people and the larger well-known brands offer stability and typically a wider range of benefits. SMEs really have to fight hard to attract and retain the right people.
What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to anyone looking to start their own business?
Be agile. Things won’t always pan out the way you plan, so being able to roll with the situation is critical. It’s also vital to focus on the big stuff that delivers value, don’t be attracted by all things that might look shiny and bright but don’t have substance. Lastly, always deliver on what you promise.
Would you do anything differently if you could start again from scratch?
Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Knowing how things have panned out for some of our product lines, there are of course things I would have approached differently. But more fundamentally I think the business has scaled in a way which I would mirror if we were doing this again. We take measured decisions, introduce new products and services and launch in new countries with a deliberate view on the long-term sustainability of the business. Taking a longer-term view on this means we end up with a really solid operation, rather than just throwing lots of things at the wall and seeing what sticks.
What do you do to relax away from the hustle and bustle of work?
I have a couple of young kids who are pretty full-on, so while I wouldn’t say it was relaxing per-se it certainly means I get time not thinking about work. This year I also signed up for some charity sport events to raise some money for my God-daughter, which means I’ve been training hard for the most part of the year. It’s been a great release valve for the stresses of the role.