The Prizebomb: Harvey Hawkins
Online raffle website
Tell us what your business does:
The Prizebomb is an online raffle website with a difference; all our raffles are free to enter. Each raffle is sponsored by a different company, which is how we make our money, but it enables the public to get something for free.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
I had always wanted to make money through online advertising but to get a company to invest, they need to see that there are large numbers of visitors going to the site. I thought of ways in which I could encourage people to visit the site and soon arrived at the notion that the best way to attract visitors was to give people the chance to get something for absolutely nothing.
How did you know there was a market for it?
In hindsight, I didn’t really do as much market research as I perhaps should have but I worked on the premise of "build it and they will come". I couldn’t see a reason why people wouldn’t want to give themselves a chance of winning something for free, as long as I made the registration process as easy and simple as possible.
What were you doing before starting up?
I left school at the earliest opportunity, aged 16, as all I wanted to do was work hard and earn money. I got a job at a local estate agents and worked my way up from the bottom. I enjoyed it enormously but I just knew that I wanted to work for myself.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
The simple answer is, yes. From a very early age it has been my ambition to run my own business and make it successful.
How did you raise the money?
Fortunately, The Prizebomb didn’t have tremendous start-up costs but all of the little capital I had has gone into it. I am at a stage now where the profit that I am making is going straight back into the business in an attempt to make it snowball to get more and more members, which will enable us eventually to host bigger and better giveaways.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
The biggest challenge has been trying to present the concept to the public without them thinking it is a con. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who exploit innocent people online and some visitors see the words "free giveaway" and automatically tar The Prizebomb with the same brush. The only way we can overcome that is by word of mouth from people who see that the site works ethically and can relay that message on.
How much do you charge?
To sponsor a raffle, the company donates a prize of their choosing and a £50 advertising fee.
What was your first big breakthrough?
We have run campaigns for some big name companies but the one that remains so special for me was the very first contract we signed with Chargrilled.com. That was the first time I realised that other people understood the concept and that it was going to work, I think I will remember that moment for a long time.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
I don’t know if I am in a position to give advice to other people because I am still learning a huge amount every day but the one thing that I would say is that if you have an idea or ambition and it still stacks up after doing research, then go for it. There is no greater thrill than seeing an idea become real.
Where do you want to be in five years' time?
I want to continue to be running The Prizebomb but on a bigger level where we are giving away more products and continuing to make people happy.