The national contest, now in its ninth year, recognises, supports and celebrates the initiative and dedication shown by new businesses in the UK.
Warren Bennett and David Hathiramani, who started A Suit That Fit.com, are now hoping to scoop the top title and a cheque for £25,000, courtesy of HSBC.
A Suit That Fits.com is the world’s first online hand-tailored suit-making company, offering the largest range of quality suits and shirts in the UK. Customers are given the flexibility to create their own designs at off-the-peg prices, starting from £150.
Using A Suit That Fit.com’s innovative technology, Suit Wizard, customers can choose from over 40 billion different design combinations in a matter of minutes. Customers can create and order a suit entirely online, though many enjoy personal service at one of their three London branches or thirteen national TailorStops.
Inspired by their combined love of technology and tailoring, A Suit That Fits.com was founded by school friends Warren and David in June 2006. The idea originated while Warren was volunteering in Nepal, where he met a tailoring family who made him a fine-tailored black wool suit. Back in the UK, Warren and David realised they could use their respective engineering and software backgrounds to simplify and improve tailoring for the internet.
The pair trialed the idea in Hampstead market and sold their first suit within 20 minutes of opening. Realising they had a viable business idea, Warren and David worked through the night to create their first website and started work from a rented office in the heart of London.
Now, three years later, the company employs a team of 23 and has achieved a £1.4 million turnover.
All A Suit That Fit’s suits are made in Nepal and the company has established a head office in Kathmandu to facilitate communication with their tailoring team. Warren and David firmly believe in giving back to the Nepalese community and to that end pay more than 50% over the local rate for manufacture. They also donate 5% of the cost of each suit to the Hindu Vidyapeeth School.
The company’s key customer group for in-store fittings are 25 to 40-year-old professional city dwellers. This personal service allows the A Suit That Fits.com team to meet their customers every day, enabling them to cater for their exact requirements. This soon led the pair into their second key market – providing wedding attire for both grooms and wedding parties.
With their desire to take the company to the next step in terms of branding and identity, Warren and David have recently been accepted on a government funded programme, Designing Demand, where they will benefit from 12-15 months of free consultancy with some of the UK’s top design consultants.
A Suit That Fits.com is one of 10 companies to be named a Start-Up Star National Finalist. A Suit That Fits.com will now come to London to convince the national judging panel why they should be named the ‘HSBC Start-Up Star 2009’.
There will also be £10,000 cheques for the best new business trading Internationally, the best new Green business putting the environment at the top of its agenda and the best new business set up by a Graduate.
Attending the 2009 HSBC Start-Up Stars will be Secretary of State for Business, Lord Mandelson, who said: “I am pleased to support the HSBC Start-Up Stars Awards. Small Businesses are vital to our economy and their creation, growth and survival is central to the economic challenges the UK faces. The promotion and development of small businesses and the people they employ is at the heart of the Government’s economic strategy.
“My thanks to HSBC, the Daily Express and Sky News for continuing to develop these Awards for 2009. Prestigious awards such as these make an important contribution to allowing people to make the most of their talent and fulfill their potential.”
All entrants currently have access to a support programme and networking opportunities through HSBC’s Business Network. Next month’s webinar ‘An Evening with Lord Sugar’ will take place on Tuesday November 17. Previous webinars in this series have covered topics such as marketing, cash flow, social enterprise and intellectual property. You can view previous webinars by visiting www.network.hsbc.co.uk.
Head of Business Banking for HSBC, Huw Morgan, said: “HSBC Start-Up Stars is about demonstrating by practical example that with the right help and support, there are still opportunities out there for people with the dedication and will to succeed.
“We hope the success of A Suit That Fits.com in this year’s Awards will help it go from strength to strength, as well as prove to other budding entrepreneurs that business dreams really can be turned into reality.”
HSBC Start-Up Stars supporter, Google, will be offering £11,000 worth of free advertising plus mentoring at Google’s UK headquarters, to be split between the four winners.
Specialist Business Partner, Start Your Business, will also be offering a year’s free subscription to each of the category winners.
The overall Winner will be revealed at a black-tie gala dinner at London’s InterContinental Hotel on November 23.