News Feed Item

Steffan Rygaard's 5 lessons in entrepreneurship

LONDON, Feb. 4, 2014 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- Steffan Rygaard, director of Vision Direct Ltd, started his business in 1997 working from a box room in a shared house, with just £1,000 and a credit card. Today the company employs 40 people, operates through much of Europe and has a turnover of around €20 million. So what's the secret of his success?

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20140204/MN58676)

Firstly - crucial for all new businesses - he'd spotted a gap in the market. "The idea was simple," he says. "Contact lenses were extortionately expensive and unattainable in the UK other than through opticians. The industry was almost a monopoly. I pioneered the idea of direct sales of optical products to the consumer, starting with replacement contact lenses, through VisionDirect.co.uk."

Rygaard's initial £1,000 start-up funding came from four people - himself, his father, a long-term family friend, and "someone with industry knowledge" - and the company was split four ways. However, within six months he'd bought back all the shares.

Vision Direct gained huge publicity almost immediately, with reports in the Guardian, Independent, Daily Mail and Times, as well as coverage on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme and the BBC's 9 O'clock News. The commentary centred on the optometry profession's shock that the company was selling contact lenses online with no eye testing involved. Not only that - it was considering legal action.

Despite Rygaard's argument that the company would only supply contact lenses to customers who already had a prescription, and would send them reminders to have their eyes tested regularly, Vision Direct was successfully prosecuted by the General Optical Council in 1998. The company had to pay a fine of £50,000.

But this was not the end of Vision Direct. Consumer feedback and further press coverage revealed strong support for the company's services, with many people fed up with the high prices charged by opticians for contact lenses. Independent columnist Oliver James was unequivocal in his opinion:

"Until last week I have been an enthusiastic user of this wonderful service. But then, last Thursday, came the news that Vision Direct has been successfully prosecuted… On the technicality that because [they] leave it to the honesty of their public to declare whether they have had a test in the past year, the company was held to be failing to act responsibly. What gives the lie to this argument is the simple fact that in Denmark, Germany and several other nations, direct mail lenses have been acceptable for some time."

Indeed the fact that the service is perfectly legal in other European countries (as well as the United States) led to Rygaard moving the business to the Netherlands, from where it now operates, having grown from strength to strength since its controversial beginnings in the UK.

Rygaard is keen to share what he has learned about setting up and running a business with others who are starting out. "I learnt some truly harsh lessons," he says. "I would like to pass these on to all entrepreneurs that dream of starting a company. These are five gems that I have never forgotten on my journey."

So here are those gems, in Steffan Rygaard's own words:

Lesson 1:

Get funding of some sort because you need it for growth. Don't be naïve - if you start a company you will need to pay yourself.

Lesson 2:

Make sure your bank manager knows you well. You will need a bank to help alleviate the working capital facilities.

Lesson 3:

Do not hand over signing power. If you take on directors or anyone with authority, think very carefully about what they are allowed to do. 

Lesson 4:

When you employ your first members of staff, ensure you manage their expectations. Keep in regular contact with them and treat them as equals.

Lesson 5:

Check every invoice. There is nothing wrong with being tightfisted. Remember that you started with nothing, so don't give away too much.

And finally, Rygaard adds one more piece of advice: "Always try and find time to talk to people. There is always something you can learn."

Follow Visiondirect on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and our blog.

By Jens Håkanson on behalf of Steffan Rygaard

Media Contact: Gareth Woods, Visiondirect.co.uk, 0044-(0)8447454545, [email protected]

News distributed by PR Newswire iReach: https://ireach.prnewswire.com

SOURCE Visiondirect.co.uk

More Stories By PR Newswire

Copyright © 2007 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PRNewswire content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of PRNewswire. PRNewswire shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

Latest Stories
Join Impiger for their featured webinar: ‘Cloud Computing: A Roadmap to Modern Software Delivery’ on November 10, 2016, at 12:00 pm CST. Very few companies have not experienced some impact to their IT delivery due to the evolution of cloud computing. This webinar is not about deciding whether you should entertain moving some or all of your IT to the cloud, but rather, a detailed look under the hood to help IT professionals understand how cloud adoption has evolved and what trends will impact th...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Transparent Cloud Computing (T-Cloud) Consortium will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. The Transparent Cloud Computing Consortium (T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data proces...
In the next five to ten years, millions, if not billions of things will become smarter. This smartness goes beyond connected things in our homes like the fridge, thermostat and fancy lighting, and into heavily regulated industries including aerospace, pharmaceutical/medical devices and energy. “Smartness” will embed itself within individual products that are part of our daily lives. We will engage with smart products - learning from them, informing them, and communicating with them. Smart produc...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enzu will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Enzu’s mission is to be the leading provider of enterprise cloud solutions worldwide. Enzu enables online businesses to use its IT infrastructure to their competitive advantage. By offering a suite of proven hosting and management services, Enzu wants companies to focus on the core of their online busine...
Qosmos, the market leader for IP traffic classification and network intelligence technology, has announced that it will launch the Launch L7 Viewer at CloudExpo | @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley, being held November 1 – 3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. The L7 Viewer is a traffic analysis tool that provides complete visibility of all network traffic that crosses a virtualized infrastructure, up to Layer 7. It facilitates and accelerates common IT tasks such as VM migra...
WebRTC adoption has generated a wave of creative uses of communications and collaboration through websites, sales apps, customer care and business applications. As WebRTC has become more mainstream it has evolved to use cases beyond the original peer-to-peer case, which has led to a repeating requirement for interoperability with existing infrastructures. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Graham Holt, Executive Vice President of Daitan Group, will cover implementation examples that have enabled ea...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Coalfire will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Coalfire is the trusted leader in cybersecurity risk management and compliance services. Coalfire integrates advisory and technical assessments and recommendations to the corporate directors, executives, boards, and IT organizations for global brands and organizations in the technology, cloud, health...
In past @ThingsExpo presentations, Joseph di Paolantonio has explored how various Internet of Things (IoT) and data management and analytics (DMA) solution spaces will come together as sensor analytics ecosystems. This year, in his session at @ThingsExpo, Joseph di Paolantonio from DataArchon, will be adding the numerous Transportation areas, from autonomous vehicles to “Uber for containers.” While IoT data in any one area of Transportation will have a huge impact in that area, combining sensor...
November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Penta Security is a leading vendor for data security solutions, including its encryption solution, D’Amo. By using FPE technology, D’Amo allows for the implementation of encryption technology to sensitive data fields without modification to schema in the database environment. With businesses having their data become increasingly more complicated in their mission-critical applications (such as ERP, CRM, HRM), continued ...
In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Claude Remillard, Principal Program Manager in Developer Division at Microsoft, will contrast how his team used config as code and immutable patterns for continuous delivery of microservices and apps to the cloud. He will show the immutable patterns helps developers do away with most of the complexity of config as code-enabling scenarios such as rollback, zero downtime upgrades with far greater simplicity. He will also have live demos of building immutable pipe...
As data explodes in quantity, importance and from new sources, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and cloud environments grow with it. Managing data includes protecting it, indexing and classifying it for true, long-term management, compliance and E-Discovery. Commvault can ensure this with a single pane of glass solution – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enter...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudbric, a leading website security provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloudbric is an elite full service website protection solution specifically designed for IT novices, entrepreneurs, and small and medium businesses. First launched in 2015, Cloudbric is based on the enterprise level Web Application Firewall by Penta Security Sys...
WebRTC sits at the intersection between VoIP and the Web. As such, it poses some interesting challenges for those developing services on top of it, but also for those who need to test and monitor these services. In his session at WebRTC Summit, Tsahi Levent-Levi, co-founder of testRTC, reviewed the various challenges posed by WebRTC when it comes to testing and monitoring and on ways to overcome them.
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Rapid innovation, changing business landscapes, and new IT demands force businesses to make changes quickly. In the eyes of many, containers are at the brink of becoming a pervasive technology in enterprise IT to accelerate application delivery. In this presentation, you'll learn about the: The transformation of IT to a DevOps, microservices, and container-based architecture What are containers and how DevOps practices can operate in a container-based environment A demonstration of how Docke...