60 seconds with Zoopla's founder Alex Chesterman
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Alex Chesterman OBE is one of the UK’s most successful serial entrepreneurs. He built his success by turning existing stale markets on their heads. In 2003, he disrupted the DVD rental market with the launch of ScreenSelect (later LoveFilm) which was then sold to Amazon for £200 million. In 2007 he founded Zoopla (later ZPG), which floated on the London Stock Exchange in 2014 and four years later was sold for over £2.2 billion. His latest venture, Cazoo, aims to shake up the used car market in the UK.
Cazoo is one of Octopus Titan VCT's most recent investments – the third time that the team behind Octopus Titan VCT backs Alex Chesterman.
We have interviewed Alex Chesterman – here are his comments
Q: You’ve been very successful already. What is motivating you to do it all over again?
A: Setting up a new business is certainly a lot of work and requires energy but it is what I love to do. I am motivated by finding ways to improve things that I feel are sub-optimal for consumers and can be done far better.
Q: Why Cazoo? What is the opportunity?
A: Cazoo is going to transform the way people buy used cars. It’s the UK’s largest retail market with poor customer satisfaction, lack of transparency and low levels of trust. We’re going to fix that by delivering a great experience and making buying a used car no different to purchasing anything else online. The market is huge and we’re convinced we are going to build another multi-billion pound business.
Q: What are the key ingredients to success of your previous businesses you could replicate?
A: Each of the businesses I’ve started solves pain points for consumers and makes their experience better or easier. LoveFilm provided better selection, value and convenience. Zoopla delivered much-needed transparency and efficiency. Cazoo is all about creating a trusted brand in the used car market that provides transparency, value, selection and convenience.
Q: Have you made any mistakes?
A: I am sure I’ve made mistakes along the way. There is a constant sequence of decisions to take but as long as you get most of them right, you don’t need to worry too much about a few small mistakes. The worst decision when building a business is not making a decision.
Q: What makes a successful entrepreneur?
A: I think successful entrepreneurs generally have strong self-belief and resilience. Nothing ever goes precisely to plan, so there are always opportunities to throw in the towel. Being successful is really about not quitting and finding solutions.
Q: Is “disruption” the latest fad?
A: The term ‘disruptive’ is certainly over-used and few businesses succeed at transforming markets. To be genuinely disruptive you have to do something fundamentally different both to the traditional players in the market and to all other new businesses emerging in that space.
Q. What makes Octopus a good partner?
A: I have a longstanding relationship with Octopus, which has been mutually beneficial. It has a good team which has proven to be very supportive and understands how to work well with founders.
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