Meet Matt Lovett, aged 24 and Founder of Wow Media, a global brand running a range of online services. Matt started his online marketing career when he was just 13 years old; he funded his first website by selling sweets at school. Since then, Matt has gone on to win numerous prestigious awards including The Daily Mail Enterprising Young Brit Award, in addition to being voted as the Business Person of the Year 2015. His entrepreneurial ventures have been commended by the likes of Sir Richard Branson and have been broadcast on national television. By the time Matt left school, he was earning more money than the Head Teacher at his school. Here’s everything you need to know about Matt’s Journey to date…
Getting to Know Matt
How did you become an entrepreneur at the age of 13?
It happened by accident. Two friends and I started selling sweets at school; we’d buy 100 sugar sticks for 99p and then sell them for 1p, so we made just 1p profit on the 100. After about 6 months we saved £20, which was a very slow process! Luckily, we got better at business fast. We used that £20 to start our first website, but before we launched the site we bought one of our friends out for £10, our first acquisition! The site was a cashback website and we made £30 from retailers within our first day. After a few more months I bought out my other friend for £70. Another 3 months down the line I started making around £3,00 – £4,000 profit per month, by which point I’d turned 14. By the time I was 16 I was making £15,000 per month. I had no idea what to do with the money as that wasn’t the reason why I was doing it; I just really enjoyed running the business.
What childhood experiences contributed to your business?
My parents were always very big on saving money. I thought my pocket money was rubbish; I got around 50p per month. I remember wanting a Thunderbirds toy which was £30 and my Mum said “well, you’ll have to save your pocket money until you can afford it”. I calculated that at 50p per week it would take me forever to save enough money for the toy. That was my lightbulb moment; I realised I was going to have to start making my own money to buy the things I wanted.
I kept my business a secret from my parents at first because initially they tried to dissuade me from pursuing it. They were concerned about the high risk; they wanted me to have the security of good grades and go on to university, but that was never going to be the right path for me. They forced me to go to college; I went for a day and then quit.
“I calculated that with 50p pocket money per week it would take me forever to save for the £30 Thunderbirds toy. That was my lightbulb moment; I realised I was going to have to start making my own money to buy the things I wanted.”
Who is your idol?
Richard Branson, who I had the pleasure of meeting! I went to his house in Oxford in 2013. The opportunity came from winning The Daily Mail Enterprising Young Brit Award and I went with Jamal Edwards, Founder of SBTV. The security around his house was insane. Once I made it through the gates and the masses of fields around his house, being inside was a very relaxing experience. I was allowed to explore quite a bit and I found interesting parts of his home including a room where he had a pool table and a bar. Through meeting Richard Branson, the main things I learnt were the importance of building a brand and the necessity of diversification.
When did you decide to grow your business?
It wasn’t so much of a decision, it was quite naturally the path I was going to take as soon as I quit college. We created a model which allowed other businesses to use our cash back site technology but we created a bespoke and branded version for each client, so it looked as though they had their own cashback site. We took a commission of 20% for each transaction from all retailers. When I was 17, we got our first office in Birmingham. I took on 4 people straight away. The office agreement had to be signed by one of our clients since I hadn’t yet turned 18. I then paid the rent money to that client. Afterwards, we expanded the business to both Sweden and the US.
How do you deal with competition?
By evolving. Originally the cashback market was not being utilized by many people, but by the time I’d build a team in Birmingham the market became incredibly competitive very quickly. Business was slowing and revenue was decreasing. We had to diversify. We went into voucher codes at first, placing ourselves third on Google rankings, at the same level as My Voucher Codes, a company which exploded and is now the top player for voucher codes globally. Against huge competitors like this, our life span in voucher codes was very short lived.
The next thing we therefore tried was the affiliate network. After that, we also launched a game app for Android which ended up doing well with 100,000 downloads in a couple of months, without any budget for promotion. I bought some source code for the game and modified it myself; I’m not a programmer but there are enough tutorials on Google to help with this. At its peak it was making £1,000 per day. We diversify into different areas where necessary; we’re continuously evolving.
“We diversify into different areas where necessary; we’re continuously evolving.”
As a CEO, how do you deal with pressure?
I try not to think about it. If I let myself over analyse things then it becomes something which is very easily done, but a lot of the time it’s not worth it. If you allow yourself to think too much, you start to worry about things that don’t matter. There’s no point spending time on the wording of an e-mail or other trivialities; you have to be fast with your decisions and swiftly move on. You should always focus on the bigger picture.
“There’s no point spending time on the wording of an e-mail or other trivialities; you have to be fast with your decisions… You should always focus on the bigger picture.”
Do you have a mantra you live by?
Yes, I’m a big believer in the notion that you should enjoy what you do. It’s the philosophy I live by myself and is also the philosophy I share with others. As well as this, I try to remain as calm as possible throughout all scenarios in life and in business, as opposed to letting everything cause stress. If something goes wrong, I take a very systematic approach and learn from bad experiences rather than getting upset about them.
What habits do you adopt to decrease your stress levels?
Being organised. Tasks held by each member of our team are now logged on one central system. There’s a process for assigning tasks to different people and everything is accessible online. This avoids any ambiguity about who is doing what and decreases the likelihood of losing to-do lists written on paper. The more control you have over your workload, the less stressed you are.
“The more control you have over your workload, the less stressed you are.”
Rebel Wrap Up
If you could go back to any point in your life, what would it be?
Everything I’ve experienced has been an incredible learning curve. For that reason, I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s all brought me to where I am today.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
I haven’t received that much advice. The biggest thing I’ve picked up is not to let fear hold you back. You just have to dive in and do it.
What is the one rule you disagree with?
That education and university is the way forward for everyone. It can be pushed on people too much over other valuable lessons which can be learnt through experience. Not enough people consider entrepreneurship.
If you could change one law what would it be?
The Cookie Law privacy legislation. The government decided this should be enforced, despite having no idea how the internet works. It just seems stupid to me.
Who is the most disruptive entrepreneur of the last 2 years?
Alexander Solomou. Founder of TheLadBible.
What’s your definition of entrepreneurship?
Someone who takes risks and executes their idea. To be an entrepreneur you’ve got to go all the way and put 100% of your efforts in. You’ve got to put yourself in a position where you can leave your day job and pursue your business full time.
What advice would you give to anyone reading this?
Just go out and do it.