Meet the startup that’s bringing every retailer’s cut price stock together in one browsable e-commerce site.
At any one time a retailer could have thousands of discounted items up for grabs without announcing a sale is on. Love The Sales clubs all these items together so shoppers can browse online by category and size. Simple.
Its founders aren’t another bunch of trust fund kiddies. Mark Solomon, 28, Stuart McClure, 37, and David Bishop, 33 have all been working - and in McClure’s case raising a family - while building up their prototype.
“The best move we made was staying in our jobs and burning the candles at both ends,” says McClure. READ: Crowdfund or VC? Three British businesses explain their funding choices
“If you can handle that for long enough it is a much safer way to startup,” he advises.
The team has spent past 18 months ducking in and out of their London offices to meet multi-millionaire investors on their lunch breaks.
“We couldn’t sack off at work as we all had aggressive growth targets to hit. But when we got home - totally exhausted - we’d have to open up our laptops and crack on,” says Solomon.
Fine for a couple of weeks, you might think. But Love The Sales were “burning the candle” for well over a year while they created their site.
McClure remembers sprinting to an angel lab during an “extended lunch break” on his own as the others couldn’t get the time off.
Placed in front of twenty high-powered businessmen, it was McClure’s moment to shine.
“I was stood in front of a square block of desks sat at by millionaires in charge of huge businesses watching me pitch. And then I just ran back to work.”
“It was pretty hectic. But it was still exciting,” Solomon chips in.
McClure and Solomon wanted to bring their product to life before pitching, so passed out the usual seed stage. When they met their colleague, Bishop, who had the technical skills necessary to build the site, they knew they were onto something.
“Anything we had to pay for, we paid for ourselves. We thought, if we can prove our facts and figures we’re more likely to get investment,” McClure says.
Assured that Google would sandbox their website, they were able to sell a “few grands worth of stuff,” before their initial funding.
The enthusiasm and hard work is beginning to pay off. The startup is preparing for Series A funding after securing a six figure sum from VC the Collective earlier this year.
The idea of bringing together all retailer’s discounts in one searchable platform is pretty clever, rendering Love The Sales an easy sell.
The idea formed when McClure, who became a father as a teenager, began looking for cut price shopping.
“I had kids really young and we really had to save money,” he says.
When you consider that the average price to raise a child is £230,000 in the UK, and the average household income is £30,000 - it’s clear that purse-friendly initiatives like McClure’s will be a hit with families across the nation.
Bishop, former technical lead at Reed.co.uk, is charged with keeping the site up while McLure and Solomon work on building up their product, marketing it and ensuring that retailers get their products on the site.
It runs on Microsoft Azure, which Love The Sales gets at a discounted price thanks to Microsoft’s startup initiative, BizSpark Plus.
The main challenge is cleaning the data, which includes clothing and beauty items (amongst others) which are often labelled in clashing categories. American Apparel’s take on what a pair of shorts may be decidedly different to that of Marks and Spencers, for example.
But the team have enough IP (thanks to Bishop’s thousands of categorisation algorithms) to ensure they are always one step ahead of potential competition.