We spoke to Deepak Tailor, founder and CEO of Latest Free Stuff, about his evolution from a teen eBay power-seller, to a global internet entrepreneur. After a journey that at one point saw him manage more than 70 different websites, Deepak created an innovative website that aggregates all the best freebies, samples, and competitions in one place for users, giving people the chance to save, and get free stuff!
As an Amazon best-seller book author, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, Deepak has come a long way from his days of selling objects in and around his house and has now built the largest freebie website in the UK, reaching more than a million people every month. In this interview, we find out more about the man behind the magic!
How did your entrepreneurial journey start?
My journey started when I was 16 years old, while still in school when I was fascinated by the world of making money online. After researching how to buy and sell digital products on the internet, I started selling things on eBay – everything from homeware and kitchenware to miscellaneous items I found around the house (that usually belonged to my Mum!).
Using that as a foundation, I worked hard to expand the range of items I could sell, eventually selling everything from digital services, books, and language guides, to spyware products, and sim cards, by the time I had finished with school.
How did Latest Free Stuff (LFS) come about?
Although I had reached a point where I was a ‘power-seller’ on eBay, with a network of 70+ websites that were 100% automated, and allowed me to earn the equivalent income of an average full-time job, I was keen to redirect and dedicate my time and effort towards a business that could really make an impact in society, reach a big audience, and provide a solution to as many people as possible.
Thus, LFS was born, with the idea of aggregating all the best freebies, free samples, and competitions available to users in one place, with offers available from a variety of verticals, including food and drink, health and beauty, household products, magazines and newspapers, and more.
My family had always had a big impact on my journey into entrepreneurship, but I didn’t have all the answers, and to start building the business, I had to try and test different things to see what could and would work best. With outsourced tech and development support from the Philippines and India, I was able to grow LFS into the largest freebie website in the UK, reaching more than 1 million people every month, where users could find the best offers in a single place, saving them time, effort and money – a money-saving source and solution that I knew would become priceless.
What inspired ‘How To Live For Free’, which made you an Amazon best-seller book author?
With the entrepreneurial experiences I’d had since 16 to hand, I wanted to become a key person of influence, and share the industry knowledge I’d acquired to give people ideas on how they could save through their everyday lives too. It was from this that the idea for ‘How To Live For Free’ was born, and with Tom Church, my friend, and business partner for LatestDeals.co.uk, we created a guide for users to get tips and tricks, on everything from ‘extreme couponers’ (where people could collect and stack coupons to massively discount their general shops), to dumpster diving (with advice on how people could get food for free). To date, we’ve seen more than 80,000 copies sold, with orders still coming in on a day-to-day basis.
How did you get involved in Dragons Den, and what was the experience like?
Dragons Den was an amazing experience, although it was definitely one of, if not the, hardest things I’ve ever done. I have never really wanted to be in the public eye, so after (unexpectedly) receiving an invitation to the show, the idea of pitching my business to the Dragons on national TV was very new (and scary!), but it was something I adjusted to, and an experience I have definitely learned a lot from!
To get myself ready for the pitch, I took 2 months away from work and prepared answers to more than 1,000 questions so that I would be ready for anything and everything they could ask me. The pitch itself was almost 2 hours long in total (although you would have only seen a fraction of it on the show!), but I had confidence in the mission I was working towards, that passion, and the position of LFS at the time, allowed me to receive 3 offers from the Dragons, one of which (from Deborah Meaden), I accepted, as I was confident that her experience in launching and growing successful tech businesses would help propel LFS, and allow us to grow and scale faster than ever.
The impact of being on the show was incredible – while the episode was being aired, our website visitors spiked to more than 970,000 people per minute, with around 250,000 new members joining on the day the show was broadcast. This allowed us to grow the business in the way we’d wanted, to a position where we can now use our market power to drive down prices for the brands we work with, so the most attractive and engaging offers are available to our users.
What tips would you give someone on how to start, and scale a business?
It is extremely important to find a business that you are passionate about, where you can see a gap in the market that you are able to fill with the niche of the product or service you can offer. I would highly recommend looking at what others have done in the same market, as you can learn from their mistakes (and successes), and plan your journey accordingly. I wouldn’t suggest reinventing the wheel, but instead launching a product or service that you know and understand well, where you can be confident about the costs, pricing, profit margins, etc. It is easier to penetrate a market where you can take market share from the competitors, and learn from their best practices than it is to grow something brand new that has never/rarely been tried (or done successfully) before.
With regards to scaling a business, the most important thing is to understand your audience, and to know who they are, where they live, what platforms they use, and why they could (and should) buy what you have to offer. With this knowledge, you can use all the different marketing tools and solutions available to build your brand, presence, and community – don’t be afraid to ‘jump on the bandwagon’ for any new marketing opportunities that are popular, and make sure you build a presence across the social media channels you know your users engage with. From there, you’ll have the foundation of a business that can grow to be successful, and you can then strategize accordingly to set yourself (and your business) targets to work towards. Raising funds can be particularly useful in helping you to scale up quicker, and using the knowledge and support you can get from advisors and investors can make the world of difference in how quickly your business can grow and flourish.
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