At just 22 Daniel Thomas is one of Nottingham’s top young entrepreneurs after shunning university to launch his own business importing luxury hot tubs.
Danz Ltd is now the UK’s leading online hot tub and spa retailer, with Daniel supplying both the British and French markets.
The company is his latest exploit having started his first business aged just 18, selling phone covers imported from China on eBay.
By building on his existing Chinese supply channels, Daniel then moved onto bigger and more lucrative products including projector screens, LCD TV brackets and golf karts.
His philosophy was simple – find a profitable market and provide greater value for money than his competitors.
He said: “I’d always wanted to own my own business and started making some cash on eBay whilst I was at college.
“Business grew steadily and by the time I was 20 I was turning over £300,000, five times more than two years before.
“Things were going well but I realised I needed to develop a long term plan and develop my own website rather than rely on eBay. So I purchased the domain www.Danz.co.uk.”
Daniel decided to specialise in hot tubs, believing he’d be able to shake up the industry with a more complete service than was being offered by the incumbent firms. Business boomed and by early 2010 he’d recruited his first two employees.
Daniel admits it was tough explaining his ambitions to a mother keen for him to attend university.
He explains: “At college I thought I wanted to go to university to study computer science, looking back it would’ve been the worst possible decision.
“My mum hoped I’d go to university then work my way up the corporate ladder, but I was making more money than most graduates and couldn’t afford to put the business on hold for several years.
“Eventually she came around to my way of thinking and has been great ever since. She’s really proud of me and even helps out with my accounts.”
Whilst Daniel has experienced phenomenal growth during his six years in business, he says money is far down his list of priorities.
He said: “I’ve been working with a local charity to help under privileged people in Nottingham and regularly give speeches via the charity ‘Model Behaviour’ on how to run businesses to schoolchildren from deprived areas.
“My dream would be to make enough money to give back to the community in a way that would make a real difference.
“Another goal of mine is to enter local politics. I’m passionate about Nottingham and want to fight for my city and its residents when I can. It’s another way for me to give back.”
But despite his success Daniel admits it hasn’t all been plain sailing - he’s made one or two mistakes along the way.
He said: “When I was 18 I went out and bought a brand new Audi A3 then drove it to college to show off to my friends. One year later eBay experienced a downturn and I was forced to sell it.
“Looking back it was a stupid thing to do and I’ve certainly matured since then.”
With the company set to grow substantially again this year, Daniel is optimistic about the future.
He said: “I’m really proud of what I’ve been able to achieve so far but I know there’s so much more to come.
“Hopefully we can continue to grow and I can take on some more talented Nottingham employees.”
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