10 QUESTIONS WITH JAMES HARFORD-TYRER, FOUNDER OF CUDONI
1.) Good morning James, welcome to The London Musings! I must start by asking you: what inspired you to start Cudoni?
Good morning - a pleasure to speak with you! From my early teenage years it was very apparent that busy people had better things to do with their time than to spend countless hours on conventional peer-to-peer marketplace platforms (often repeatedly) going through the arduous process of reselling luxury products which they no longer wanted to use. The busiest of people value their time, and don’t want to be photographing, categorising, guessing a price and describing their items, before having to deal with customer handling, managing returns, storing, packaging and posting - it’s tiring just thinking about it.
I used to sell things on behalf of other people as a teenager, and 10 years later there still was not an adequate solution in the market - so I put a team together and we’ve built that solution.
2.) Let's say I have a Chanel bag I am keen to sell. How does it work?
It’s a simple three step process. Firstly, we collect your bag at a time and place that suits you. Secondly, we provide a market valuation for it, based on global sales data for similarly sold items all around the world. Thirdly, we sell the bag for you - end-to-end. For example, the customer enquiries, professional photography, handling and shipping... Basically, all you need do is sit back, relax and get paid.
3.) Online selling is all the rage. How does Cudoni differ from other C2C selling sites?
Cudoni provides the most convenient service out there for sellers. We collect your items at your convenience and carry out the entire selling process for you, from start to finish - you literally do nothing. In fact, we like to say that the hardest part of the Cudoni process is making the first call. We also allow you to sell (almost) everything in one place which our customers particularly enjoy.
Alongside convenience, we focus on providing an exceptional service. Cudoni is designed to be tailored to you and your specific requirements. As opposed to a courier, for example, we utilise a Cudoni VIP representative for collecting your items - they’re far better equipped to help answer any of your questions. You also have a customer accounts manager on the other end of the phone who can deal with any queries or issues which may arise during the process.
We also pride ourselves on achieving the highest price we possibly can. As opposed to other services which limit themselves to one marketplace, we utilise a combination of online and offline global sales channels and partnerships to achieve the very best result possible. On average, we achieve a 30% higher sales price for the customer than if they sold the same item themselves. This is purely a result of the sales team’s data-driven approach, technology and the multifarious sales channels we have cultivated over years of trading.
4.) What keeps your customers coming back again and again?
On one level, it is the extensive use of data and technology to extract the most value from an item, combined with an unmatched level of convenience. Moreover, our buyers want assurances around quality and authenticity, and we guarantee them complete peace of mind. In truth, however, it’s far deeper than this. We aren’t simply a faceless service; our representatives care deeply about their clients. It’s a real relationship, and that’s what people crave in this age of big data and digital transformation.
5.) Do you ever come across any rare or particularly valuable luxury items?
Absolutely, some of the most weird and wonderful requests have passed our way. Our clients trust us, and many of them are ultra-high net worth individuals and celebrities, so they receive the most unusual of gifts sometimes. We’ve been asked if we can sell supercars, multi-million pound houses, art and even a used toilet brush made for Tom Ford by Gucci. The most common item that our clients are searching for or selling, is the Hermès Birkin bag. Its exclusivity, craftsmanship, and excess make it an item that just can’t be surpassed.
6.) Prior to Cudoni, what were you up to work wise?
From the age of 12, I have run businesses in the consumer and retail space and became more interested in the intersection with technology at around 16. I tried my hand at quite a few other things in my teenage years - I’ve been involved in the management and creation of high-end bar, restaurant and nightclub venues, and worked as a tennis coach. More recently, I’ve worked been lucky enough to have experienced working in Investment Banking and was Chief Operating Officer of a technology company backed by Lebara Mobile before setting up Cudoni.
7.) What does your typical working day look like now?
It’s incredibly varied and is constantly evolving. I’m generally up and making headway into my day quite early (5:00am/6:00am). I’ll always speak one-to-one with my management team to ensure that we are making good progress across all areas of the business, to understand some of the challenges that they may be facing and to discuss how we can improve further.
At the moment, we are closely considering our expansion plans on the back of another recent fundraise of £1.4M, which means a lot of conversations with our Chairman, Matt Cooper (Founder of Capital One and Chairman of Octopus Investments) and with some of our key shareholders (such as the venture arm of the Daily Mail and General Trust).
I will usually have several external speaking engagements or meetings a day and like to leave the more administrative side of my role for the evenings (after 8PM) when there is a little more peace and quiet.
8.) What advice do you have for budding entrepreneurs looking to leave their job to pursue their own business venture?
What are you waiting for? Being an entrepreneur is a mindset - you either have it or you don’t. If you are really destined to do it, it’s time that you move out of your comfort zone and get started. You will build resilience in time; no idea is perfect when you start. You can’t hesitate because of fear or concern or you will end up sitting on your hands forever.
9.) When you're not busy working, where can you be found in London and what will you be up to?
I am based in South West London, so I am primarily around the King’s Road in Chelsea or the riverside near Fulham; trying to keep active, but more often eating and enjoying nightlife (primarily rooftop bars wherever possible) with friends. I’ll definitely be watching the tennis at Wimbledon this week and I’ve recently signed up to a Tough Mudder which I am already regretting.
10.) What's next for Cudoni?
It is a particularly exciting time for Cudoni at the moment. As I mentioned earlier, we have just announced the completion of a further funding round from existing and new investors, whilst Matt Cooper has been formally appointed as chairman of the board. At this stage, our focus is on continuing to scale Cudoni across the UK and overseas, but we are also investing heavily in improving our technology and product so that we can continue to ensure absolute convenience, the highest levels of service and the best sales prices on the market for our clients. We’re particularly excited to share that Cudoni’s own marketplace has been given a makeover and will be going live very shortly.