Name: Sam Nozdrachov
Business name: L.Samuel
Sam is the proud founder of L.Samuel, a brand which aims to revolutionise the way you charge your mobile devices. Their flagship product at the moment is a product completely new to the European market, an A5 branded luxury notebook with a hidden battery integrated inside the back page, which can charge android and apple devices and 16GB USB flash drives.
“At the moment business professionals are reluctant in using power banks, as it can look silly at a meeting or in the restaurant. However, with our solution there are useful features for working professionals, entrepreneurs and businessmen such as 16GB USB flash drive, 10000 mAh power bank and notebook as an all in one device.”
What inspired you to start your own business/project?
The inspiration for this current project came from another business called “Brainstorm”, which I was managing in 2015. I had a team and we were making notebooks with graphical designs as there was limited choice the retail shops. However, we had to pivot and I decided to make the best notebook the market has never had.
I built a product with the most useful features specifically for business professionals. I have never come across notebooks with integrated gadgets nor technology, Furthermore, the fashion industry is slowly introducing cloth with integrated tech’. After identifying this gap in the market, I decided to make a brand which concentrates on high end luxury stationary with integrated technology, which is useful for business people.
What was your biggest fear about starting your business and how have you overcome it?
The biggest fear about starting a business is uncertainty and dealing with uncertainty everyday. You can never be 100% sure whether your products are going to sell or not, even if the potential customers feedback is very positive. In business, sales ultimately indicate whether what you are selling is something that people are ready to pay money for. Generally speaking, people do not like to spend money on things that don’t bring value to them.
In the early stages of the business cycle, start-up products are usually used by Influencers and innovators, which account for about 20% of the whole market. So the biggest challenge is finding your first customers and maintaining relationships with them. You really need to make these people use the product and listen, listen, listen! Afterwards, you need to change your product according to the market needs, this process is called “Product co-creation” where start-ups co-create and tailor the products quickly according to the customer needs and wants.
What are you most proud of? – e.g. personal milestones, awards, sales, awareness increase, positive feedback
First of all I am proud that last year, I was able to successfully launch and manage a new unknown smartphone brand in United Kingdom called Takee UK, considering UK is the worlds 3rd largest smartphone market. My company was the first official distributor and representative of a Takee brand in the UK. Takee smartphones were the first Chinese smartphone brand to win the CES Innovation award in 2015, in addition to winning the German IF Design award. When we started no one was selling this brand in United Kingdom. However in 6-8 month the smartphone brand became popular in the UK and now is sold by many sellers on amazon and ebay. So we created good competition in the market, however, unfortunately we didn’t get exclusive distribution to protect the market power.
In addition, I am proud of the marketing achievements we achieved, especially in digital marketing, taking into account we did not have massive budgets. We had to be incredibly creative to achieve the following numbers:
Facebook viral post ad – 128,704 people reached and 46000 views.
YouTube – I managed to create collaboration with the biggest technology Reviewer on Social Media in United Kingdom -SuperSaf.
1st Video Unboxing – 210 000 views, 2200 likes
2nd Video Full review – 100 811 views, 1114 likes
How does your business differ from others? What’s your USP (unique selling point)?
A lot of people do not see what I see. Many of them say “but you can use normal power bank as well” or “You just charging money for making 1 device multifunctional”. However, there is a particular and distinct difference between my product and existing solutions to the problem.
It is for the first time people can charge their mobile devices invisibly to other people in any place they won’t. It is for the first time people can charge their smartphones on the table and invisibly to others at Restaurant, Business meeting or conference. So L.Samuel brand provides a Stylish way to charge smartphones and mobile devices invisibly to other people. Most of the business professionals do not use power banks because wires and multiple devices looks unprofessional on the table.
How did you come up with your business name and branding imagery?
I came up with the brand name and brand imagery after people even made first pre-orders. At first I was concentrating on doing market research and finding out whether this product is needed in the UK market and most importantly if people were willing to pay the initial price point.
After validation of my hypothesis and market testing, I was consulting with solicitors and lawyers which Kingston University and Young Enterprise department helped me get in touch with. In addition to lawyers and solicitor, I was advised by the branding experts I know from my country (Ukraine), China and some other countries in EU.
After consideration of both sides of advisors – Marketing with Branding and Law experts. I knew that my company name cannot be associated with anything in particular. So I was literally walking in Kingston town centre and Central London analysing all the brands and company names I could see. In the end I made a decision to create brand name using my own name. This way I can register a trademark and defend my brand.
How have you promoted or marketed your business?
I have made a Facebook group and LinkedIn company page. At the current moment I was only using LinkedIn paid advertising targeted at senior level employees who work at high-end retail shops e.g. Harrods, Debenhams, Bentalls, and Selfridges etc. Furthermore, I will be reviewed in some technology magazines. In addition, I recently launched a website and I will soon implement a digital and marketing strategy to increase traffic.
How did you raise funds for your business/project?
I sold my Ipad, 2 professional camera lenses, Ipod, TV, Xbox and everything I could see in my flat. I knew that all those devices were distracting me from achieving my targets (except my camera lenses) and i decided to get rid of tem all.
Looking back, what would you have done differently with your business/project?
I truly believe that I am on the right path at the moment. I wish I had launched my website earlier. I started this company just when during the same period as my final year exams and assignments started, so it was pretty tough task do both.
Where do you want to be in 5 years?
In 5 years time I want to have an office in London City area, being in control of my current brand L.Samuel. I want to make sure I create products which satisfy particular customer segments needs.
L.Samuel Notebooks is just a beginning of the product line. There will be many brand extensions in the L.Samuel brand. As I have mentioned before I want to create a brand which is going to integrate technology into high quality stationery products. So in 5 years I can see Leather A4 folders for Ipad, Laptop bags with power banks, Designer leather cases with integrated power banks and a wireless notebook charger.
How has/did University support you in developing and growing your business/project?
First of all, Kingston University has brilliant societies and departments which help students such as the student entrepreneurship society and the enterprise department. If you are an active member like I was throughout all my 3 years at Kingston, you will get amazing opportunities. Firstly, there are a lot of events organised where very successful entrepreneurs are invited like – Yoganathan Ratheesan, Rachel Elnaugh and many more!
I actually had a chance to speak to those people after their speeches and they gave me such valuable advice. Furthermore, all enterprise and entrepreneurship societies bring like minded individuals together.
Not to mention, that Kingston University has a Kingston Nest Business incubator. They allow students to register their companies by the business address and provide them with office space at the same time.
Why do you believe enterprise skills are important? Please give us a brief quote.
” Start-ups environment changes everyday and it is so important to build a product which customers actually need. I call it ‘Must have product’ vs ‘Nice to have product’. In almost every situation you probably will not build the business on “Nice to have product”. You need to satisfy a particular very annoying problem for the customers. That is why , Pivoting is absolutely vital. Unsuccessful business ideas with good team can Pivot into great business according to the costumer needs and problems “