We catch up with the founder of AnyVan.com, our Website of the Year 2010, to find out more about his award-winning business.

Anyvan.com, which scooped Website of the Year 2010 in last year's awards, is known as The Delivery Auction Website.

The site works by connecting customers needing goods moved with transport providers looking for extra work on routes they are already travelling on. In doing this, ANYVAN.com can offer customers very cheap rates on moving goods, while serving an eco function in making use of otherwise empty vans rattling up and down the country and giving more work to transport providers. We caught up with Angus Elphinstone, the founder of the site, to find out more.

Explain your business

Anyvan.com is for anybody with something to move. Be it a single piece of furniture, an item from eBay or an entire house move - you an list your delivery job onto the site. Transport providers then bid on the items being moved, and the customer accepts the most appropriate bid based on price, feedback rating and timings. This process is free for both customers and transport providers.

What’s your background?

At the age of 24, I left my job as an estate agent based in Knightsbridge and started a company called White Van Gentlemen (WVG), a London-based removal company. This catered to London’s more discerning clientele -whose goods often demand an appreciation that many services cannot deliver. Attention to detail, excellent customer service and a dedicated team of professionals has proven to be the key to a hugely successful operation. WVG still trades to date with one manager and 5 members of staff.

When did you launch the site?

Anyvan.com soft launched in October 2009 with the main launch being at the beginning of 2010. For the remaining months of 2009 we focused on ironing out bugs and ensuring the site was running smoothly enough to push it hard come January. With little knowledge of the web industry, the first two months were a harsh wake up call to the dynamics of it all but fortunately those two months were crucial to having everything is place before January.

Who are your biggest competitors?

As it's a very new service, we only have two main competitors, both who field a similar service. These companies are doing well but we feel we can steal the march and become the market leaders in our area. Our other, not so direct competitors are van rental companies, as consumers still feel this is the cheapest way of transporting their items. ANYVAN significantly out performs van rental costs and does not involve using your own time to transport. Obviously, all independent transport services are our competitors on the one hand but also our clients on the other hand.

What have been/are your greatest challenges?

Our greatest challenge is making people aware of our service. The delivery auction marketplace has only just been created so we are up against both educating potential consumers about our product and then for them to have enough faith to list their delivery job onto the site. Our service is simple and effective but it is communicating the benefits and the way the service works in a succinct fashion to a user that does not know they are looking for you we find the greatest challenge. Very quickly the ‘penny drops’ but getting to that point is our ‘vertical climb’

Who is your business mentor and inspiration?

Being an entrepreneur myself, I obviously have great admiration for any other entrepreneurs who have worked hard and become successful. Duncan Bannatyne is a great example of someone who started from the bottom, selling ice creams at the young age of 20 and then, over the years, due to hard work and sheer persistence has owned several businesses and become a leader and influencer in his industry. In some ways, it was harder back then which is another reason why I admire such success.

What was the inspiration for the site?

For the past few decades, the supplier has always been in the driving seat with regards to dictating market prices. My aim was to create a delivery marketplace where the customers were in the proverbial driving seat over what price they were prepared to pay. Anyvan gives the customer the ability to pick and choose who to use, based on price and other factors. Customers dictate the market price - the leading mechanism for my business and the way I crave to see the industry move towards.

How many visits do you have per day and by how much do you hope/expect this figure to grow over the next 12 months?

We are seeing circa 1500 visitors per day with an average of 150 listings per day. Since launch, we have seen a 25% increase month on month which we feel we can keep close to for the up and coming year or so. At the end of 2011 we aim to be attracting 10,000 visitors per day creating circa 1000 job listings per day. Only time will tell!

What is your motto?

My personal motto is: “Solve the obvious problems that people have stopped seeing.” The company motto is: “Efficiency through Numbers” – From the core basis of our business model to the way we employ the team here, this is our ‘mantra’

Where do you see the business going from here?

Starting a business from ground zero is exciting and one year down we are where we had hoped to be which is incredibly rewarding. We have a product that benefits all users so we know this business can work and is ultimately scalable and being environmentally beneficial is important to us. Consolidation in the UK is our primary focus for now but international growth will always be the logical evolution in time.

2 February 2011