We've just opened a new office in Croydon, to add to our sites in Glasgow and Rotherham: we've got about 30 desks lined up, and about 10 staff in place so far. We currently have about 50 people in the UK, and plan to be up to 80 by the end of July, so it's the biggest expansion in the company's two-and-a-half-year history. I actually used to work largely from home, even when we had about 30-odd people - but it was getting to the point where I couldn't really do that as much. Now I think it's time to take the reins and drive the business a bit harder.
Anyway it all seems to be coming together nicely. I'm still interviewing like mad: we're hiring lots of people into niche areas: some will focus on international territories, other are joining our SEO and online advertising team, looking at ways to get the site more exposure and traffic. The idea is that instead of having a few people that multi-task, we'll have real specialists. Generalists are good up to a certain point, but now we're seeing bottlenecks in the business and we want people to start taking charge of specific projects. Some roles are filled really easily, but some are hard - hiring senior management, for example. It's something I've never done before - what you really want to know is: 'Are you good enough to take my company, my baby, and make it better?'
Most of my time this week has been spent getting on the ground and training all these new people. Each of them needs to be nurtured: they need to be told what we do, how we do it, how we deal with clients, how we market things - but at the same time, I want to let them bring in their own thoughts and ideas. To be honest I feel busier than ever at the moment! But I'm hoping that once they're up to speed, they'll be able to do things just as well as me and maybe even better. For instance, I've had my new operations manager in place for four weeks now and it's definitely making life easier - he's getting things done, in areas I wouldn't have had time to ovearally concentrate on. So I think it's going to work out very well.
Hopefully when all these new people are settled in, it will release more of my time to look into new areas. I've always wanted the business to be very innovative, but since it got bigger, it became harder to manage - it needs your attention constantly. That means certain areas don't get the attention they deserve, like building more client relationships, doing new deals, looking at what your competitors are doing and so on.
For instance, we now have more than 3,000 retail partners, and we'd like to start offering them different services. We've very skilled at SEO, at email marketing, at paid search - we now have all this expertise within the company. So these are the areas that we're talking about and planning and starting to roll out. All these ideas have been in my head for months and months, and we're finally starting to move on them. I think it's actually the most exciting time in the company's history. There's just so much going on.
Mark Pearson is the founder and MD of MyVoucherCodes.co.uk, the UK's biggest free-to-use voucher codes website. Last year it generated £28m of savings for its users, processing 2.5m online purchases; last month, it attracted 8m unique visitors. Mark, who originally trained as a chef under Gordon Ramsay at Claridges, came up with the idea in November 2006, aged just 26, when he was trying to book a train ticket back to his native Liverpool, and his site has since attracted some 30m visitors.