Getting to Know You – Alastair Crawford founder & CEO of 192.com

What do you currently do?
I’m the founder of 192.com, the UK’s leading people-finding website. 192.com is an SME but we were the first to challenge BT’s monopoly of directory enquires, launching the first alternative to the BT phonebook. We’re now launching BizBuzz.com, a free business directory, to help SME’s connect with 192.com’s 8 million unique users a month.     
 
What is your inspiration in business? 
To create things that people need and have a real impact on their lives.
 
Who do you admire?
Larry Page, the founder of Google. He found a way to create products that sell themselves, though real value rather than hype, and do so on a world-wide scale was so impressive.
 
Looking back are there things you would have done differently?
I wouldn’t have launched the business from my sister’s spare room if I could have avoided it! And I wouldn’t have worried as much.
The Royal Mail tried to sue us for using the Postcode (they claimed) without a license. After two years of litigation and a six day trial the High Court ruled in our favour, as we did in fact have a license from Royal Mail. So in hindsight I would have enjoyed the ride a bit more, but it was pretty stressful at the time.
 
What defines your way of doing business?
You have to be credible and trusted, and you can’t just put profit ahead of everything else. Your customers, suppliers, the wider public, and particularly the competition need to know you are accountable and open in all matters and that all you’re doing is providing a better service at a more competitive rate.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Be determined and creative. Know the competition, and prepare to evolve the business to accommodate new markets and challenges. Flexibility is key.
Ask yourself what do people need and I can I get it for them?
With BizBuzz.com we saw that SME’s were dissatisfied with paid-for online directories, and businesses weren’t effectively connecting with customers, and we hope to bridge that divide.      
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