After being featured on Holly and Phil’s This Morning ahead of Mother’s Day, demand on BuildMyGift.com had this couple working all hours to send out their products on time for the occasion.
Manveel and Ras Deol work with a range of different suppliers from Ted Baker and Kate Spade to Hotel Chocolat and Cowshed to offer shoppers gift boxes full of high-end products that are completely unique to their friend, family member or loved one.
As part of our “In love with my co-founder” series, we caught up with Ras to find out about their experiences launching the business last year and why the couple liken themselves to Beyoncé and Jay-Z.
When was the business founded?
We came up with the idea for BuildMyGift.com in March 2017 and since then it has been a whirlwind of researching, planning, buying in stock, designing our brand and launching the website. We registered BuildMyGift.com as a business in June 2017 and launched to the public that November.
What is the company’s turnover?
We haven’t yet being going for a full year, but based on our forecast for 2018 it will be just under £100,000.
How many employees are there?
Currently there is just the two of us, however we have plans to expand and bring on more staff in the next 12 months.
How did you both meet?
We met when we were at university, after some friends introduced us. Four years later we married in 2015.
What inspired you to start a business together?
When a close family member fell ill and had to be admitted to hospital the usual flowers and gifts just didn’t seem appropriate – they were neither personal nor impactful.
We were bored of cookie-cutter gifting and frustrated with the lack of choice on the market. It was then that we came up with the concept behind BuildMyGift.com.
Ultimately, both of us want to become our own boss, so setting up a business together seemed like the ideal approach.
What specific roles do you both have?
With Manveel dividing his time between the family business and BuildMyGift.com, he oversees the web and SEO elements of the business.
Earlier this year I was able to give up my job in HR to focus solely on the business, so I cover marketing, business development, operations, stock management, acquiring new brands and preparations for the events we have coming up later this year.
However, despite me playing a bigger part in the day-to-day running of the business, we make all key business decision together.
How do you separate work from your personal life?
Initially we struggled to find a balance and even now, a year on, we can find ourselves becoming business partners rather than husband and wife.
When we went on holiday in July we both found ourselves constantly checking emailing and responding to customer queries, but ultimately we know that is the sacrifice you have to make as a startup. However, we now have a rule that we set aside at least an hour before bed to switch off and talk about something other than the business, otherwise we risk it consuming our every conversation.
Do you have any rules to leave work at work?
As an ecommerce site we aren’t in a Monday to Friday, 9 to 5:30 job anymore – our business has the potential to operate around the clock.
For example, we were featured on This Morning the week before Mother’s Day, which resulted in us (and our family and friends) working until 5am to ensure all orders were packed and delivered on time.
We try not to make a habit of working these types of hours, but we know sometimes it is for the greater good and we will reap the rewards at a later date.
What are your individual strengths?
Manveel is methodical and brings positivity and an air of calmness. I like to work at a fast pace and have a sense of urgency to complete tasks, so we balance each other out quite well and it means we can reach a happy medium.
Having worked within the family business for almost 10 years, Manveel has a wealth of knowledge in the back office side of things. Tax, bookkeeping, accounting etc.
Whereas I have worked within a corporate environment so I enjoy leading on the business development side, as I have experience working with senior stakeholders within businesses and can apply my HR background.
What’s been your biggest business achievement to date?
For the consumer side of our business it has to be appearing on This Morning, as part of a Mother’s Day gifting round-up.
Hearing Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby talk positively about the brand we have worked so hard to create was incredible, and when Holly described it as “a Christmas stocking for Mums” we knew she understood exactly what we are trying to offer our customers.
From a corporate point of view we have recently secured a contract with a large logistics firm as their gifting provider. This has the potential to get our brand out there to many more businesses and ultimately opens up a lot of opportunities for us.
What is the hardest part of working together?
Although we spend a lot of time together, it isn’t quality couple time and it’s sometimes hard finding time for that. You end up becoming business partners rather than a married couple. With emails and mobiles meaning you can connect to the business and your customers 24/7, it is very easily done.
What is the best part of running a business together?
We have always shared the same goal of becoming our own boss and creating a successful business and now we are seeing our dreams become a reality. This in itself is so rewarding, however there’s no better feeling than sharing these successes with your partner.
What celebrity couple are you most like?
As cringeworthy as this may sound, we are probably most like Beyoncé and Jay Z, as we are driven to be successful and achieve our goals, but our family and our close circle are extremely important to us too.
Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest from Business Advice.