Interview with Castoff.
Britain is renowned for its contribution to the world in many ways including famous inventions, technology, writing, sports, transport and other areas. This also includes the British contribution to business, commerce and finance. One key example that comes to mind is of course the City of London, a major international centre of finance. There are of course famous British cars instantly recognised worldwide such as Rolls Royce and Jaguar.
Rolls Royce, a car company of British origin.
Jaguar, another British success story.
In addition to achievements in the finance world and the manufacturing industry Britain has also produced a not so well known success story in the world of computer technology. It’s important we should know this, particularly as we are living in an increasingly digitalised world, where laptops, PCs and mobile phones play a greater role in the lives and choices of consumers and businesses. ARM Holdings is a company which also has a British connection and it is highly likely that today either you or someone you know will be using ARM technology. ARM Holdings is the company which is a giant in the digital technology sector, with more than 90% of chips inside mobile phones produced by ARM.
ARM’s success is a major achievement in the IT sector.
ARM chips are in Mobile phones and other technology used through out the world, here a Japanese student holds an Apple Iphone which is powered by an ARM chip.
ARM is a British company and a global giant that produced 2.9 billion chips in 2007 alone. ARM was floated on The London Stock Exchange and NASDAQ in 1998.
A new British success story?
Whilst Rolls Royce, Jaguar, The City of London and ARM have achieved major success and worldwide recognition in their fields, there is no British company comparable to the likes of internet giants such as Google or Facebook.
The online world is dominated by US companies such as Google, Facebook, Amazon and others.
With the British economy currently going through a difficult time and with government job cuts there may yet be some good news for the British public.
A new company has recently launched that may break the online US dominance and tradition. This new company is “Castoff”. Castoff Limited trades as castoff.net and is a new online trading platform for individuals, businesses and retailers.
To find out more about this new company I spoke to their Director of Operations, Marcus Down.
Jahan: Hi Marcus, great to be able to speak to you.
Marcus: Hi Jahan, and thank you for the opportunity, it’s nice to meet you.
Jahan: So Marcus please tell me more about Castoff.
Marcus: Well Castoff is an online auction site, which allows you, whether you are the average person or a small business, or anyone really to put items on the internet and sell them. There are of course other auction sites around.
Jahan: Yes, so what is particularly different about Castoff?
Marcus: Well there are a number of things about Castoff which are quite different. Many of us have grown up having a good relationship with our local shop keeper, having conversations with him or her and even forming friendships. There is a special bond between a local shopkeeper and a customer. We are similar in that we are local to Britain and trying to help our local market. We strongly believe in providing the best service possible whilst developing a friendly relationship with our customers. We are very focused on actually helping and working with our customers.
Jahan: Can you tell me what you mean by giving the best service as possible?
Marcus: Well, we integrate and relate with our customers. We speak to them and welcome them, thanking them for joining our company following registration. We are developing our own forum where customers can communicate with us further, telling us what they think, sharing ideas and advice alike. We can help with design and development of their brand within our brand. We have a special “Thanku” policy for loyal customers and we also help charities. We actually pick up the phone when it rings and know many of our early customers on a first name basis.
Jahan: You help charities?
Marcus: Yes it’s on our website. Charities can use our services completely free of charge. They have a fully functioning ecommerce platform they can make their own extending their potential to gain a return for their given charity. As I say this is free for ever with nothing hidden at all.
Jahan: You clearly have a vision?
Marcus: I have been a business professional for many years now; I have lots of experience and have enjoyed a reasonable degree of success. Fundamentally though, making money and being financially successful, whilst something people should try and attain, is not everything. Our company philosophy is to share in our success, helping local UK customers, the community and charities. We aim to share the benefit.
Not only do companies, small businesses, we and the consumer benefit but so do others who have no connection with Castoff, including those being helped by various charities.
We sincerely want to make a positive difference both to British businesses and to the community.
Jahan: Interesting. So you are starting off during a time of economic difficulty here in the UK, I can imagine some saying that might not be a good idea.
Marcus: Well, on a personal level Jahan, if anyone wants to be successful they have to start as soon as they can, not in haste but with adequate preparation and planning of course.
This is in fact the ideal time to be starting a business which is helping people to find cheap deals and save money. We are helping people to save money at a time when there is less money around. We certainly don’t love the current economic climate but it does offer us a better opportunity to launch the Castoff brand – the British brand that can save people money.
Jahan: I see.
Marcus: Yes, it’s as logical as that. Small businesses benefit by not having to spend huge amounts on advertising, customers benefit by getting cheaper deals and we understand our local market more than others do. Going back to the example of the small local shopkeeper who is friendlier and has a more personal relationship with the customer than a big multi-million supermarket does, we are like that local shopkeeper in that we understand and care about our local customers.
Jahan: Being a British company seems to mean a lot to you, yes?
Marcus: Well that is what we are, and that is who we are catering for. If we were operating in for example Yorkshire we would understand the needs of customers there and would cater for that. We operate in Britain and really feel we understand what customers here want. We want the British people to work with us and for the British people to work with each other. Together we can make Castoff a brand with worldwide recognition.
Jahan: So you seem to attach a lot of importance to community, customer service and a good relationship.
Marcus: Yes, there are many different ways to make money and be financially successful. What is important is doing it in a fun and ethical way. Castoff is about having fun and being fun in a workmanlike and professional environment. The Castoff journey should be a fun experience for both customers and sellers alike. As a company we would be far happier with earning a decent living by providing a great service, helping charities and being seen as honest and good quality, rather than earning tens of millions but with a lot of unhappy customers amongst the fewer happy ones. Also during this time of economic difficulty as you mentioned Jahan, we are providing a way for ordinary people to find alternative ways to provide extra income for themselves and their families.
Jahan: Do you think you can do well?
Marcus: Yes, we can and we already are! We wish the best of success for all others doing something or anything similar and if they do well then great that is fantastic. We have received a great reception from many and I myself have spoken to local businessmen and local radio stations to gauge the market. If you read internet forums you will see people are happy with what we do. We will succeed if people like us, and people will like us if we give them what we want. Some tend to overcomplicate things and make things sound fancier than they really are…but what do people want? Well the consumer wants what me and you want, good quality and honesty.
Jahan: Marcus, thank you for taking time out to speak to me.
Marcus: You’re welcome Jahan and again thank you very much.
End of Interview.
Having spoken to Marcus and also looking at their site, I think Castoff can do well. They seem to have a very sensible down-to-earth approach to things and though they are not thinking of being a huge internet giant such as Google or Amazon, if they do well and get a lot of the 60-70 million British market then they can become another British success story. However it seems that this is not on their mind at the moment, but rather providing a good service to British customers. It will be interesting to see how they do in the future and we may hear more and more about them. Their website is: www.castoff.net
– Jahan Choudhry