How the self-made made it

Business start-ups: help is at hand for would-be entrepreneurs

Lesley Clare and Andrew de Rozairo's business idea came to them when they wanted to print a simple colour business presentation. They were so outraged at the price quoted to them - pounds 10 a page - that they decided there must be an opportunity to set up a do-it-yourself computer studio.

"We figured that most of the cost was paying the operator to press `print', so we asked if we could operate the computer and save that expense," says Ms Clare, a former finance specialist with Apple Computer.

Told that customers were not allowed on the machines, they reflected that there must be many people in a similar position to them in knowing how to do the work but needing access to the expensive equipment required for short periods and at a reasonable cost.

The plan was to set up a centre where customers could walk in off the street and start working at a computer - confident that expert help was on hand if they got into difficulties.

But before they went ahead, the pair - who had met at the Insead business school in France - did market research. They sent questionnaires to a group of Kensington residents selected from the phone book and received 40 per cent back, most with positive comments.

So they put their savings into the project and set about getting a bank loan to make up the difference. After weeks of frustration they found a NatWest manager who believed in the idea but, more importantly, adds Ms Clare, believed in them. "Most banks were reluctant because it was new territory."

However, they were still not prepared for how long it would take them to be actually up and running. Having found premises and arranged the lease, they then had a problem over the name they chose - the Government objected to The Home Office. So they resorted to "declare" - taken from parts of their names.

Within 12 months of starting out, in London's Earls Court, they had outgrown the premises. And in the past six months they have bought out a competitor in Covent Garden and opened another centre in Camden Town.

Three years after setting up they have 10 employees and are looking at achieving a turnover of pounds 500,000 in this financial year. With more than 50 computers, 15 printers and six scanners, "declare" claims to be the largest do-it-yourself computer studio operation in Europe.

It has been, admits Mr de Rozairo, "a tough learning curve". But he points out that the business has helped more than 40,000 individuals and firms in its short life, and the duo's greatest satisfaction comes from watching start-up companies - many of whom are given advice based on their own experiences.

Now preparing another business plan with the aim of obtaining further funding for the months ahead, Mr de Rozairo and Ms Clare will be on hand at the Carlton Enterprise Fair, which takes place at the New Connaught Rooms in Covent Garden this Friday and Saturday.

The event - which the television company says is part of its "commitment to putting something back into the region" - will feature contributions from a range of advisers with the idea of helping anybody planning to start or already running a small business. It comes as accountancy firm Clark Whitehill is preparing a similar event for owner-managed businesses for 31 January, with speakers including shadow Chancellor Gordon Brown.

In order to promote the Carlton event, which comes as many leading banks are renewing efforts to inform would-be entrepreneurs of the help available to them, the television company is screening several short films in which Karen Jones, co-founder of the Cafe Rouge chain of restaurants, fashion designer Bruce Oldfield, and Nicola Foulston, chief executive of the Brands Hatch motor racing circuit, talk about their early days in business and what has motivated them.

Ms Jones says: "I think strong business partnership is crucial. I have learned to listen to good advice in all my plans."

It is a view echoed by Mr Oldfield, who says: "When I started, I knew how to be a fashion designer. But I had to learn how to run a business. I survived because I took some sensible advice."

Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
A polar bear’s diet is rich in seal blubber and half of its own body weight is composed of fat
i100
News
London is the most expensive city in Europe for cultural activities such as ballet
arts
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
tv
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Desktop, Surrey)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Deskto...

Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Desktop, Surrey)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Deskto...

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape