About your business
Founder name: Alain Desmier and Michael Laming
Company name: OrSaveIt
Company age: 9 months old
Company location: London
Staff numbers: 5
Date started: July 2012
Tell us what your business does:
OrSaveIt is an impulse savings app that helps people to keep track of their pennies whilst they’re on the move, so the pounds look after themselves.
Where did the idea for your business come from? What motivated you to start it?
Working in an office and buying lunch and coffee every day, we realised we were spending as much as £900 a year on takeaway coffee and £1,300 on buying lunch. We realised that the money saved by not having a morning latte could pay for a holiday!
Not many of us can remember every £2 or £3 that we spend or have the chance to record them when we’re out and about, but the OrSaveIt app makes it easy to track through your mobile.
What did you do before?
I was the director of business development for LeadPoint Inc, a Californian start-up, and I was also consulting for a number of other start-ups.
Mike, my co-founder, was the CTO of www.enternships.com.
What did you have to overcome (if anything) to start it and get it off the ground?
Based on the various bits of research we’d done, we had a very clear idea of what we wanted to build and how we wanted it to look. What took us two months was coming up with a brand that really matched the functionality of the app.
What makes your business stand out from others like it?
The OrSaveIt app is the first serious attempt to launch a mobile savings app in the UK. We believe it’s the simplest way to record savings as you make them – because it’s so user-friendly.
What was your first big breakthrough?
The Daily Mail covered the app four months before it was due to release, focusing on the screenshots, user-friendliness and the overall concept. It was a massive morale boost and also attracted hundreds of visitors to the site, who’ve now gone on to download the app and sign up to our money-savings blog.
Your business tips
You’re prime minister for a day. What would you change for small businesses?
Honestly? Not much. Business owners will complain (as I have been known to) that there is too much regulation or that taxes are too high but I don’t really believe that’s true. I don’t think there has ever been a better time to start a business.
What’s your best customer service tip?
To actually listen to user emails rather than just pretend to. So many start-ups in particular try and ‘fix’ customer service with automated replies, or shift the responsibility to a junior member of the team resulting in the problem being ignored. It doesn’t have to be an essay – but you should take the time to acknowledge and thank people who take the time to give you their feedback.
What would you do differently? (What have you learnt?)
We moved too quickly and in too many directions before we had the core product nailed, which has meant we’ve gone back to the app with a second version quicker than I would have otherwise liked.
What one piece of advice would you give to people who want to start their own business?
Don’t rush into anything. The advice often given to people wanting to start a business is not to fear failure and to “just do it”. Nothing could be further from the advice I give people when they ask for it.
Work for other people, work in big and small companies, and keep learning. Entrepreneurship isn’t a boat that you are going to miss because you’re too old, and it’s more important that you’re ready to take the jump than fear your idea might be copied by someone else.