This Harry Potter actor is taking on Amazon with his e-commerce venture Flubit

Why young entrepreneur Bertie Stephens’ firm Flubit is one to watch

Entrepreneur Bertie Stephens is just 27, but he’s already the founder and CEO of one of the UK’s largest online marketplaces.

His firm, the London based internet shopping company Flubit.com, claims it is the biggest independent market place in the UK and the third biggest overall behind Amazon and Ebay.

Before founding the company, Stephens had a stint in the film industry, where he played Harry Potter character Neville Longbottom’s stunt double.

The money he earned went into setting up Flubit.

We spoke to Stephens to find out more.

VITAL STATISTICS

·         Company: Flubit.com

·         What it does: Flubit is an ecommerce platform that has the power to create better prices on the exact products you’re about to buy online. 

·         Turnover: £15m

·         Growth: 200% year on year

·         Founded:  April 2011, London

·         Founder/s: Bertie Stephens and Adel Louertatani

·         Size of team: 70

What problem are you trying to solve?

The Flubit concept is simple but very different from the conventional eCommerce approach. Most marketplaces follow a traditional shopping model – products are listed publicly for buyers to browse and they click and buy. Flubit.com doesn’t do that and we don’t list any products. Instead, users paste the product weblinks from Amazon.co.uk and other large marketplaces and retailers and Flubit creates a better, unique and private offer for that exact same item.

Flubit.com is incredibly simple to use, creates better prices for users on items they were going to buy anyway.  The conversion rate is around 30%, which is nearly ten times better than traditional online shops.

How big is the market – and how much of it do you think you can own?

UK online retail sales are expected to reach over £50 billion in 2015. We’re disrupting the eCommerce sector in the UK by taking sales away from Amazon and have big ambitions to grow our share of the market in the UK and overseas.

How do you make money?

Flubit takes a small percentage from each order made through the site.

Who’s on your team that makes you think you can do this?

We have a strong, dedicated team of 70 employees made up of developers, data scientists, operations, merchant sales and marketing who all have a vested interest in making Flubit a success.

We’ve invested heavily in building out proprietary technologies and have put a big focus on creating an inventory of over 22 million products made up of over 550 integrated UK online retailers.

Who’s bankrolling you?

We have a number of wealthy individuals and family funds that invest in Flubit.

What do you believe the key to growing this business is?

Always iterating, improving and progressing. Creating compelling, simple and beneficial user experiences, providing great customer service and an online shopping service that customers want to use time and time again that saves them money.

What advice would you give other entrepreneurs trying to secure finance?

I don’t think there’s such a thing as ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to raising capital. However, I do believe there are a number of things that are worth bearing in mind when taking that next important step.

Cash is king. Whether you’ve been in business one week or for years and years, having a healthy cash flow and funds to invest is crucial.

Know that introductions matter. Put yourself out there and ask people you know if they know of any investors who might like what you’re doing, and you’d be surprised how many are willing to introduce you.

Realise the difficulty of the process. Pitching to investors is tough. Of course you must have a detailed business plan and know your numbers inside out, together with a compelling story behind your business and a clear vision for where you want to take it. Also, knowing how to deal with rejection is a must if you want to get through the process unscathed!

What metrics do you look at every day?

We have a team of data scientists who are continuously looking at reports and metrics to understand how we can improve the business.  But the stats we constantly look at first are new user growth, orders, revenue and most importantly customer feedback and reviews.

What’s been the most unexpectedly valuable lesson you’ve learnt so far?

We’ve learnt through experience and trying things out.  The first ever BETA version of Flubit was a co-buying proposition. After some initial testing we spent a few months building out the technology ready for launch. As we geared up to go live we weren’t convinced it was a concept that was going to get the necessary traction and after some user testing we were even less sure.

We therefore made a decision to delay any launch and essentially adapt the concept to what is the Flubit.com we know today. It was the best move we could have made and taught us not to be afraid to change tack or delay a launch if you’re not 100% happy.

That’s the benefit of being a start up. You can be flexible and agile and learn as you go. Plus and most importantly you change course quickly if things aren’t working out.

What’s been your biggest mistake so far?

Aside from that [the above] I don’t think we’ve made any huge mistakes.  We’ve very much been guided by our customers, we have some great advisors and our own experts in the business.

Obviously we’ve faced challenges along the way and one of those is finding the right team members.  We’re fortunate that we now have a really strong team of dedicated individuals who are driving this business forward but we I would say we made some recruitment errors in the early days. 

What do you think is on the horizon for your industry in the year ahead?

It’s a really exciting time for eCommerce, particularly in the UK.  The Brits are one of the biggest exponents of online shopping in the world and this industry is only going to keep growing.

But the competition is extreme so unless you are disrupting, doing something different and offering world class experiences you are going to struggle.

Which London startup/s are you watching, and why?

Eat First have caught our attention recently. Mainly because everyone in the office seems to be using them at the moment! They deliver ready to eat, quality meals within minutes from placing your online order.  It’s an impressive service.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Anonymous

    "His firm, the London based internet shopping company Flubit.com, claims it is the biggest independent market place in the UK and the third biggest overall behind Amazon and Ebay" Claims to be the biggest in the UK there is no mention of number of products etc.. also where is the proof that "Flubit.com" is the third largest behind Amazon and eBay? What about Alibaba.com etc??? Proof in terms of figures is needed before a huge statement is made like that, plus with a £15million t/o, which is great, but it still say they are the biggest in the UK and third behind Amazon and eBay (is this UK or Global??) is a huge statement still to make..

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  • i carefully looked through the points, and deeply feel there are a lot for us to learn, i work for www.dhgate.com and this article give me some idea to improve.

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