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Archive for the ‘Will King’ Category

An article a few days ago spoke about how UK entrepeneurs are looking to expand, despite the recession and looking eastwards towards “Europe”. I say Europe in inverted commas because German, French and other friends of mine find it strange when people in Britain refer to the European mainland or continent as “Europe” and interpret it as implying Britain is not part of Europe. Britain is definitely part of Europe, but as for the whole issue of the EU and federalism that is another separate debate and topic.

The article in question can be read here:

It also mentions Will King, the highly successful British entrepreneur (and I believe potential future billionaire) who has his own shaving company and is seeking to challenge shaving giant Gillette who I wrote about in a previous article:

Potential future billionaire, British entrepreneur Will King, the "King of Shaves".

In addition to Will King, angel investor Sherry Coutu’s name appeared as one of the entrepreneurs as someone whose opinions were included in the research.

High flying angel investor, Sherry Coutu.

Sherry Coutu is described by the Telegraph as a “serial entrepreneur” with investments in more than 35 companies, .

This interest and enthusiasm from British businessmen and women in expanding in to western and also eastern Europe is all the more interesting given the current Eurozine crisis which the continent is struggling to cope with. This however has not deterred, which should hopefully be a healthy sign for all of us.

The research by RSM Tenon says that 31% of Britain’s entrepreneurs are planning to target foreign markets in 2012 with half of them interested in “western” Europe and secondly “on the hit list is eastern Europe, which will be pursued by 37% of the study’s respondents”

“Eastern Europe” or “Central Europe?”

This brings us to another question of geography and appropriate terminology and that is of calling countries such as Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and others as “Eastern Europe” or “Central European”.

Many people from such countries have an aversion to the term Eastern Europe which they believe has a stigma including association with the old communist past which they would like to forget. They have geography on their side. Europe stretches all the way from the Atlantic i.e Ireland and Portugal to the Urals mountains in Russia.

Europe stretches from Portugal in the Atlantic to the Urals mountains in Russia, countries such as Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic are geographically right in the middle, in the "centre".

Branding plays a key part in business as people no matter how much they may not realize it are subconsciously affected by imagery, terminology or even connotations. So many in countries such as Poland and Hungary actively try to promote wider use of this term. It will be difficult since the term “Eastern Europe” is primarily a legacy of the time when Europe was divided between the capitalist and communist blocs in the “West” and “East”, and anything east of the then West Germany was seen as part of the “iron curtain”. Such a cultural division did not exist however prior to the second world war and countries such as the then Czechoslovakia were definitely regarded as mainstream European countries. How successful will this effort to re-label such countries as “Central Europe”, be? Only time will tell, but it would not active lobbying by their governments including urging international media outlets such as CNN, Al Jazeera, the BBC and others to use the term “Central Europe” so it is thus used on a popular level.

However whilst British entrepreneurs “go east”, one thing is certain the continent’s focus this summer will be on central Europe as the key television event of the summer which will be watched by billions of people not just in Europe but also the rest of the world, the European football championships will be held in Poland and Ukraine. This will also be in addition to the London Olympics.

Euro 2012 to be held in central/eastern Europe, Poland and Ukraine.

Spain are favourites to win the title and are current world champions with some of the greatest players in the world.

Spain, reigning European championships, celebrate their victory in 2008 over Germany.

Three times world champions and the only European country to win the European championship three times, Germany will be looking for revenge.

The Germans are second favourites and will no doubt be as organized and determined as ever.

Will it be tears again for the Dutch, a picture of Dutch international Wesley Sneijder in tears after Holland's defeat to Spain in the 2010 World cup final.

The Dutch are third favourites, the picture shows key Dutch player Wesley Sjneider in tears after their defeat in the final of the 2010 world cup. Holland have reached the world cup final three times and lost. They are often called the best football team to never win the world cup.

Happier times, 1988 when Holland won the European Championship on the soil of their greatest and arch rival, Germany (then West Germany).

Midfield dynamo, England's Steven Gerrard.

England are fourth favourites.

Italian fans.

Football mad Italy, the second most successful team in World cup history with four world cups are ranked number five in the list of favourites.

Poland play on home soil with mass national support for their team.

Will home advantage make Poland progress further than expected?

Ukraine win the under 19 European championship.

Ukraine too like their western neighbours Poland enjoy home support and will be hosting the final in their capital, Kiev.

The Olympic stadium in Kiev where the final will be held, watched by possibly hundreds of millions around the world.

Countries such as Poland and other central European countries are expanding economically and fresh opportunities are waiting there for adventurous entrepreneurs with the right ideas and strategies. Ukraine is also another country with immense potential, traditionally being the bread basket of the former USSR with its rich fertile land. Both countries host Euro 2012 this summer.

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The Sultan of Social Media? King of Shaves, Will King

 

My blog today is about someone who I am going to coin the “Sultan of Social Media”, if this term sticks and is used more often then remember it’s 24/11/2011 and it was coined by me, Jahan Choudhry. Anyway the person who I am covering in this article has the name of another royal title, King. This King’s first name is Will which would be the reverse of prince William if he ever becomes King, who would be known as King William or “King Will”. I am speaking about Will King also known as the “King of Shaves”.

"King Will", the name some might use forPrince William if he ever becomes King of England. Image source: Askmen.com

 

Will King, or "The Sultan of Social Media". Courtesy: Daily Telegraph.

I arrived at Will King’s seminar in the Business Start up exhibition in London midway through so I might have missed some key things in Will’s speech and therefore would not be able to do it justice or an accurate reflection of it. I will start by giving some background information.

The King of Shaves.

Will King used to work for a marketing company, but one day he was made redundant. Despite this in 1993 he founded his own company, the King of Shaves, a company which produces and sells razors and has achieved such phenomenal success that now it is seeking to challenge international giant, Gillette. To fully appreciate the sheer scale of such success you must understand that besides the glamorous luxury items that dazzle people with their glitz and glamour, it is basic every day daily use items which are less susceptible to fluctuations in the economy and guarantee constant money. People will always buy household items whether they are as rich as Bill Gates or a street cleaner. Gillette for example were worth around £37 billion when Proctor and Gamble bought them in 2006. Will King is engaging in direct competition with such an absolutely huge organization whose items are bought by hundreds of millions of men throughout the world every day.

The other thing to bear in mind is that this is not a specialist market which very few people know about and if you do the right research and the right things you can make money from a limited amount of clients. This is a mass market where everyone will know about you and be able to instantly scream out to the whole world how bad you are if everything goes. Most men do not use luxury yachts but most men do use razors. Therefore Will has also got it right in terms of the quality of his product, and it is this probably more than anything else which has secured his success.

So after starting the company in 1993 he secured one of his first major deals with the glamorous London department store Harrods. The road to success is nearly always paved with difficulties and Will faced his share too with ups and downs, in his first year Will sold £300 whilst losing tens time more that amount with a loss of £30,000 however this did not stop King. The following year things got better as he made sales of £58,000 which is almost twenty times more or 2000% more than the year before. If someone were to meet an entrepreneur who told them, next year I will sell twenty times more than I do now, and know this was going to happen for a fact I am sure 99.9% of people would invest. However though Will increased his sales, he ended up making a loss of £70,000. However the very fact that he not just doubled, not just triped or quadrupled his sales by four but by times twenty I feel vindicates all the confidence and self belief he had in himself. If King, and I believe he will, goes on to making his company, “King of Shaves” a direct competitor to Gillette he will join the list the names of famous British business men and entrepreneurs such as Alan Sugar and Richard Branson, the latter whom he has cited as an example, as well as American and other international businessmen. I believe he has the potential to become a billionaire.

Millions in the US and UK watch the TV series, “The apprentice”, however King of Shaves has actually won real life prizes such as the CBI’s (Confederation of British Industry, Britain’s main business body) “Growing business” of the year.

CBI, Confederation of Business Industry

Sultan of Social Media?

Though Will King plays on his surname, and in the seminar we attended we even saw on image of him with a giant card similar to the King of Spades, the question now is can he be given the title “Sultan of Social Media”, because it is this tool which he will be using amongst others to compete with Gillete including utilizing facebook and twitter, whilst Gillette pour millions in to advertising in mainstreammedia to promote an already established and well known global brand. King’s talk was delivered in a style different to others and he himself admitted he is a serious person, though he did not seem arrogant or pompous. He mentioned a number of interesting things in the time I was present including the following.

Social media

 

“Word of mouse not just word of mouth”

Traditionally it is known in sales that word of mouth recommendations are the strongest forms of marketing, as people trust their friends and their opinions. However in this increasingly more digital age there is also “word of mouse”, whereby a single click people can recommend a product or company to their products using email, facebook, twitter or other things online.

In the future if King successfully manages to compete with Gillette than perhaps his company will be studied in business books as a prime case study of the emergence of the digital age and social media.  To repeat what I said, razors are not a strange and exotic object known only to the priviledged elite, they are every day items that men use, and their female partners are familiar with too, I myself used one yesterday!  Therefore this will not just be some obscure company or sector but one which we are all familiar with.

“Digital Dialogue”

The recurring phrase which I heard in King’s seminar, for the duration I was there, was “Digital dialogue”, which he explained is an increasingly two-way relationship between companies and customers in the digital age. Now with internet customer forums where ordinary people can say how good or bad a product is, they have far more power over the popularity of a product than in the past when advertising men merely launched a marketing campaign with lots of TV adverts saying how great they were. The consumer is being empowered.

I am happy that I attended the talk and if Will King does succeed, which as I said before I think he will, in his goal to rival Gillette then I think he can perhaps become more famous than British businessmen such as Alan Sugar, James Caan or even maybe Richard Branson, unless he decides to retire or sell his company.

King has also written a book “How to Build a Great Business in Tough Times” which is available on Amazon.

The King of Shaves website is http://www.shave.com

– Jahan Choudhry

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