Danny Jatania is CEO and Chairman of Pockit, an online savings website that allows its members to participate in exclusive offers and discounts in areas such as insurance and utilities. He is also a Director of Lornamead, a leading, privately-owned family company that markets personal care brands globally. We catch up with Danny to discuss his experiences at both Lornamead and Pockit.
Q: Did you always want to spend your life in business?
Danny Jatania (middle), with sons - and fellow businessmen - Virraj and Yuvraj
I feel it [business success] is a combination of determination, self-belief, a lot of hard work and the willingness to take risk.
A: Yes, as a teenager I was involved in the family business after school and during my holidays. At the time we had a small grocery business where I served customers, delivered to their home and helped out with the packaging of products. I also gained experience working in the laundrette business – this involved collecting money from the machines, dealing with customer queries and even cleaning the place up after hours! I thoroughly enjoyed the challenges that came with both of these businesses. My first taste of success in business came at the tender age of 17 when I managed to sell fish and chips equipment which our business had purchased from a liquidator of a large fish and chips restaurant. It was a tough sell and this inspired me to develop my entrepreneurial flair.
Q: What do you think is the biggest factor that contributes to business success?
A: I don’t believe there is a single biggest factor that contributes to business success; however, I feel it is a combination of determination, self-belief, a lot of hard work and the willingness to take risk. All of these factors played a big part in the success of my family business.
Q: Where did the idea for Pockit come from?
A: In my management role in the family businesses, I experienced the discounts that could be achieved when negotiating in bulk. I realised that if I could negotiate discounts for our group of companies, then I could negotiate even better discounts on behalf of a much larger group such as UK households. Market research proved my point and this inspired me to develop the concept and launch www.pockit.com. One of the biggest challenges was finding the right brand name that would fit with our target customers. We went through a number of iterations before finally arriving at "Pockit."
Q: Today’s young entrepreneurs are often described as being extremely passionate. Is passion essential to building a successful company?
A: In my view, passion is definitely an important ingredient to building a successful business. You have to be very committed to your business - this means working long hours and, at times, sacrificing your social life. In addition to passion you must have the drive to succeed and improve.
Q: How should those in business go about striking a reasonable work/life balance?
A: An entrepreneur requires time to relax and spend time with family and friends, however, in the early days there is no work/life balance. When we launched our cosmetics business, I would often find myself working 15 to 18 hours a day and the only time I spent with my children was at breakfast time. However, when the business became more established I managed to spend more time with my children and family.
Q: What lessons have you learnt from your involvement with Lornamead that affected how you run Pockit?
I view cash flow as the lifeblood of the business
A: The first and possibly the most important lesson I learnt was to manage the cash flow of the business very efficiently. I view cash flow as the lifeblood of the business. Secondly, it’s vital to keep a close eye on your overheads – this is particularly true when it comes to marketing spend – it’s very easy to overspend without seeing a return. Finally, developing a relationship based on trust with customers and suppliers is integral to the development of any business. In Lornamead
, for example, we have relationships with some suppliers and customers that have lasted over 20 years.
Q: How do you think the internet has changed the game for businesses and entrepreneurs?
A: The internet has revolutionised the way businesses operate in some fundamental ways. For example, the speed at which business transactions can be processed has significantly increased and dramatically improved efficiency. It has increased the demand for businesses to be more competitive due to the amount of choice available to consumers, and increased the number of ways a business can reach their customers via marketing. The web has become an important part of both business and social activities, allowing businesses to collect valuable information on the spending habits and preferences of their customer – this in turn can help shape the strategy of the business. I think the internet has made it more viable for entrepreneurs to implement their ideas and also to obtain funding as there is a greater appetite among investors in this sector.
Q: What three pieces of advice would you give to entrepreneurs currently starting a business?
Stay focused on the set objectives of your business but be flexible in your planning.
A: Firstly, it’s important to start by understanding that not everything will go exactly as planned and, therefore, take into account unexpected eventualities and don’t be disheartened by setbacks. Stay focused on the set objectives of your business but be flexible in your planning.
Secondly, your team will be one of your most valuable assets, therefore, ensure you select the right people to work with you.
Lastly, engage business mentors who will challenge your ideas and help you shape the business. I have found this to be particularly effective throughout my career but you must be willing to listen to the advice you’re getting which may not always be what you want to hear.
Q: When does an idea turn into a viable business?
A: From my experience of recently launching Pockit, an idea turns into a viable business when there is an increasing demand for the product and there are people willing to pay a price to purchase that product. The idea should also have the potential to withstand competitors currently operating in the market and attract external investors. As an example, we carried out extensive market research to answer these questions and pitched our idea to many potential service providers, household consumers and investors before we considered the idea viable.
Danny Jatania is CEO and Chairman of Pockit, an online savings website which allows its members to participate in exclusive offers and discounts on their insurance, utilities, telephone and broadband, travel and holidays, high street shopping and dental/optical/aesthetic care. He is also a director of Lornamead, a family-owned global marketer of personal care products.