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Dragons Den lastnight.....

Discussion in 'General Business Forum' started by eddieriby, Feb 15, 2007.

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  1. JustOneUK

    JustOneUK UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    3,568 268
    HEH, I stumbled upon the site about 18 months ago, it was a mess then!

    I have to be honest I was going to watch the footie until I called out to the missus, "holy s***, it's Ling"

    "Who the f*** is Ling?" came the reply.

    When I told her that the Dragons would definately put up the money, it became quite interesting. The problem is who wants to sell that high a % of something that is already a success?

    Good for her not selling out, but then again I think it was more a marketing move just to get some traffic to her site, she neither wanted or needed the money. Get £50k for 5% with a couple of dragons on board and your a winner, walk out on the Dragons (who should research these things) and your a winner too.

    The only thing that interests me... what's the competition like for this sector?

    Posted: Feb 16, 2007 By: JustOneUK Member since: Nov 19, 2005
  2. Bulldog Design

    Bulldog Design UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    69 0
    The website has a bit of an anti-brand thing going on. It's cluttered and confusing, but in some strange way that gives it its edge, it makes it memorable.

    Ling, good to have you on the site!! You are crazy :D but I respect what you have achieved in business.. very impressive
    Posted: Feb 17, 2007 By: Bulldog Design Member since: Sep 27, 2005
  3. da8iwr

    da8iwr UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    1,187 134
    Hi Ling
    Has anybody offered to invest in your business yet out side of the den?
    And have you accepted?

    (from darlington)
    Posted: Feb 17, 2007 By: da8iwr Member since: Oct 16, 2006
  4. Stephen Berry

    Stephen Berry UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    1,754 283
    I like Bulldog's comment about 'anti-brand'.
    It's a similar market approach to that taken (albeit in different eras, different industries and different technologies) with Easyjet, Virgin in the early days and (dare I say) even Apple and Amazon (and arguably Microsoft) when they all started. Their 'anti-brand' approaches rapidly became brands and immitated brands - so it will be interesting to see whether this 'going against the established flow' tactic progresses with web sites.
    Thoughts anyone?
    Posted: Feb 17, 2007 By: Stephen Berry Member since: Jan 3, 2007

    LINGsCARS Banned

    1,774 413
    Stephen and Bulldog...

    Well, I must say I do work with my husband Jon (he is back end of pantomime horse) but he also has other interests (shareholding in car supermarket - nothing to do with me). We decide the brand together.

    I think you are both quite right. Really my brand is still evolving. This ties into an earlier post which asked "what's the competition like in this sector?".

    Actually damn heavy! There is a portal site at wwwDOTcontracthireandleasingDOTcom and if you look there you will see dozens of contract hire businesses posting/advertising. That portal makes A FORTUNE for the guy who owns it. I pay £1250 a month +VAT to advertise, and it pays me back.

    But most of the competition run terrible websites (they are not really online businesses, they are normal businesses with websites.) They all post phone numbers, for example. A dead giveaway.

    They trade under ambiguous titles like "ABC Leasing" or "Highway Leasing". Makes me wonder: "Who runs these companies?". So, back to the brand: I decided to use me, as I have a USP in the motor industry. It was Chinese Bird, it has developed into Mental Chinese Bird :) Just digressing I will say the rest of the Motor Industry HATE this. They cannot fight against it, if they attack me it may be seen as racist/sexist/David-Goliathy, they cannot duplicate it, I have just hit a nail on the head, by accident of birth. In private on industry message boards they are vicious and spiteful. In public they do things like contact MD of Mazda and get me blacklisted because I am marketing their cars "too cheap" - says local dealer. I cannot get Mazdas officially now, have to go through back doors. This may be illegal practice but goes on all the time and no one will admit these secret lists exist....

    Back to post:

    I mean, everyone is a BIT mad, eh? Plus we can have fun with it, and it excuses mistakes. The rocket truck was an inspired idea, and I just don't know where that came from... the London Bus was more considered - I wanted to sponsor some events (at the moment Rallycross Championship) and needed a display stand. Every one I looked at was more than the bus.

    Look, I am not a guru, wise person or leader here... I (we with hubby Jon) just risk some cash and think "what the hell". I am way behind most on business skills. However, I know my industry is actually very little about the cars - that is something that 99% of the others miss.

    Like Virgin airline, I just WANT to fly Virgin rather than BA or China Soutwest or KLM. I'm not sure why, nothing to do with the planes... or really the service. Just rather give my money to RB, even though I know he doesn't own all of Virgin Atlantic.

    Does this make sense?
    Posted: Feb 17, 2007 By: LINGsCARS Member since: Feb 16, 2007

    LINGsCARS Banned

    1,774 413

    Yes they have. About 6 people. I am really undecided. Truth being, I don't actually need cash as long as I avoid the traditional marketing (£000000's advertising) route.

    Also, I must be careful about growth; no good flooding myself with business and bogging down (she says after DD :)).

    I have found a BSc student from Sunderland Uni, a php/mysql/ajax/web whizz who is part time employed at £10/hour (for quality) and is recoding my site. So that as well as sales (which it seems to do well) it will handle all the processes. For eg, the customers will UPS-track their order. But with candy, like small funny vids, rewards for complying and uploading stuff like driving licences, goodies for using that and not emailing etc etc. Every few hours if they log on to check (cars are emotional and have people chomping at the bit, they want them yesterday but can't do that...) they will have new message, film, question (I control them with questions - if I want to slow someone down, I ask big question or request 3-months bank statements faxing or emailing - that keeps them busy for 1/2 a day :)). I must get customers into habit of asking the webpage, not asking me. They will see if it is real-me or the dalek-me answering. I've written my mysql database, my God is that structure big to cover every eventuality, and now we are building pages. This is a separate topic, but it will be nearly Web2. Just to say, no other car company will have ANYTHING to touch this. They are all 100% manual which drives up their costs as they need people/offices etc.

    Anyway, then I can double throughput easily with less work than now.

    So THEN I may need investment. But with a 45 day average payment cycle, increased sales soon generate capital to re-market with. And with no stock, premises (home office), staff (except Mark the geek) or debt, it all depends on the speed I want to grow. I think. Unless you think different. please advise, any opinions on this subject are VERY welcome.
    Posted: Feb 17, 2007 By: LINGsCARS Member since: Feb 16, 2007

    LINGsCARS Banned

    1,774 413
    Sorry to flood... but while I am here, re webpage design - of course there is no right and wrong really.

    But I wonder why it has all defaulted to a "standard". You know? One menu down the side of services/products, then the standard FAQ, Contact Us, across the top.

    Each page has one picture, it has to be clean, calm design etc... and often the webteam throw in a useless flash entry page "skip". Everyone skips, I think.

    But most of these standard webpages are pretty useless in providing stuff. Like my 200 car price list formats onto A4 sized page for printing, but not many people allow that. But it is useful. Also, I give A-Z or price order. Not many people allow that, but it is dead easy to code. I am always frustrated by the lack of info/answers on webpages, plus most are static and just built then left and people say "we have a web page". It was written by consultants usually. The menu often includes "mission statement". I prefer "mantra" because it's shorter... and then I poke fun. Please tell me, who seriously will read the proper one (apart from MD) and be impressed?

    The reason I say all this rubbish is that I have just read about the Apple iPhone. Apparently it has just one on/off button and everything is done on context screens on the big display. Get this: to resize a photo, you touch it with your thumb and first finger and pull them apart, and it zooms bigger!

    THAT is the kind of brilliant thing I like, but on website there is rarely any brilliant thing, just conformity. Ajax is one flash of the brilliance, and I have done it on my website back end, avoiding page refreshes when editing prices on a list of 200 cars (this forum should use Ajax - you would be amazed!! Everything would stay the same, except the page would not refresh, all the stuff would just appear by magic - actually your browser does it. But it is so good it seems like magic). And Ajax is free, it's just code you type in. Cost: zero.
    Posted: Feb 17, 2007 By: LINGsCARS Member since: Feb 16, 2007
  8. webit

    webit UKBF Ace Full Member

    1,130 7
    Ling - you are bonkers of course but we love ya' I first noticed your site about a year ago as it just shouts out from the rest of the sites out there.

    Welcome and I really hope you stick around and join in as much as possible. :)
    Posted: Feb 17, 2007 By: webit Member since: Jul 13, 2005
  9. Stephen Berry

    Stephen Berry UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    1,754 283
    Ling - for a good look at brand / web offering etc - why not have a chat with JPMH? They are currently working on Blackberry and others.
    Nik Myers is the 'M', Phil Harvey is the 'H' - see
    they have more innovative and market based ideas in 5 minutes than I do in a year.
    I think what you are discussing is a lot bigger than just re-jigging a few web site pages - you could transform the whole car purchasing/leasing market.
    No personal interest - just people whom I have seen do a good job.
    Posted: Feb 17, 2007 By: Stephen Berry Member since: Jan 3, 2007
  10. Matt1959

    Matt1959 UKBF Legend Free Member

    6,295 1,226
    one thing springs to mind Ling. You are your business - what happens if you get run over by a bus next week - what happens to the business and its unique style thats part of its success?
    Posted: Feb 18, 2007 By: Matt1959 Member since: Sep 8, 2006
  11. Scott-Copywriter

    Scott-Copywriter UKBF Legend Full Member - Verified Business

    9,759 2,681
    Thats the most bizaare question I've heard in a long time.
    Posted: Feb 18, 2007 By: Scott-Copywriter Member since: May 10, 2006
  12. Matt1959

    Matt1959 UKBF Legend Free Member

    6,295 1,226
    whys that then?
    Posted: Feb 18, 2007 By: Matt1959 Member since: Sep 8, 2006
  13. Scott-Copywriter

    Scott-Copywriter UKBF Legend Full Member - Verified Business

    9,759 2,681
    Well you're basically asking someone what would happen to their business if they got hit by a bus :p

    Never hear that one everyday do you?
    Posted: Feb 18, 2007 By: Scott-Copywriter Member since: May 10, 2006
  14. adam

    adam UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    930 42
    No but it is a good question and one that separates the "self employed" from the "business owner". No type is better than the other necessarily but if Ling is the business, it makes it a different proposition to being the business.

    With Vendesent, people deal with me, yes there are others with me but I could close it down and start again over night with some writing that I do, sales, consultency etc. With Indoor Phones, the company is much more than me, the person does not come in to it. Some weeks I don't go in at all and don't do much on the front line but it carries on due to some great staff.
    Posted: Feb 18, 2007 By: adam Member since: Sep 12, 2004
  15. webit

    webit UKBF Ace Full Member

    1,130 7
    The difference between a system underpinning a business and a personallity however seems to work from Branson, Sugar, ling etc.
    Posted: Feb 18, 2007 By: webit Member since: Jul 13, 2005

    LINGsCARS Banned

    1,774 413
    Maybe I will get run over by my own London bus, heheheh.

    If I got run over by a bus and died, what would happen to my business is this: .... - ? I wouldn't give a flying fluck, would I? (I'd be quite dead, and as a Chinese, we do not have some invented heaven/afterlife like (wierd?) Muslims/Christians/Bhuddists, we just die and that's the end, gone! Ping, Pong, Gone! To the worms.).

    No offence to the made-up religions. Especially Muslims as they bite. Except please notice they don't bite the Chinese much. Not much fuss is made by the fundamentalists about the treatment of Muslims in China. They leave that WELL alone.

    (Thinking about this, I wonder if there is a smaller number of virgins for a Musilm (man?) being killed by a bus (say 2, and 1 for a taxi), rather than the quite large number I see being claimed for being a martyr. And what does a women get? Not sure if I would like virgin men, they would be hopeless. Anyone here Muslim and would help me out without getting all worked up?)
    Posted: Feb 18, 2007 By: LINGsCARS Member since: Feb 16, 2007
  17. adam

    adam UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    930 42
    Ooh, that will get 'em talking!
    Posted: Feb 18, 2007 By: adam Member since: Sep 12, 2004
  18. Bathead

    Bathead UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    985 81
    this is the best thread i've read in ages!! :)
    Posted: Feb 18, 2007 By: Bathead Member since: Apr 4, 2005
  19. Kent Accountant

    Kent Accountant UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    1,998 161
    I've seen the website before but didn't look too deeply as I don't like leasing cars. Very impressed by her confidence on Dragon's Den - hadn't realised before how young she was. Must be an inspiration to some of the younger members on here
    Posted: Feb 18, 2007 By: Kent Accountant Member since: May 30, 2006

    LINGsCARS Banned

    1,774 413

    Actuall I get refused alcohol in Tescos and can get 1/2 price on the bus and in Cinema. But I am 33. That is not TOO young! :)
    Posted: Feb 18, 2007 By: LINGsCARS Member since: Feb 16, 2007
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