Research Case studies
Entrepreneur and Apprentice star Leon Doyle currently uses the co-working space available in Leeds Beckett University’s Old Broadcasting House to run his three businesses; The Master Menu Ltd, Whitepumps.co.uk and 0800Divert.me.
He was initially helped by the University of Huddersfield’s Business Mine – a free, on-campus service which offers a wide range of advice to students or recent graduates aiming to start their own enterprise. He also represented the University at the annual Regional Enterprise Award competition at Venture Fest Yorkshire, and was nominated for the Huddersfield Examiner's News Business of the Year award in 2009.
Leon graduated from the University of Huddersfield’s Transport and Logistics Department in 2009 before moving to Leeds. This is where the idea for the Master Menu arose. Leon explains how he ‘instantly saw a niche in the market-it was a light bulb moment’. The Master Menu is an online take-away directory and publication business which also comprises local takeaway menus into one brochure. After a bit of market research, Leon knew this would be a success.
“Within 5 days, I had signed up 10 of the best takeaways in the area. Now MasterMenu boasts 900 takeaway outlets for you to choose from across the UK and Northern Ireland ”.
However, he did encounter some problems during the start-up process; ‘I got ripped off with the first brochures I printed’ this will have been due to inexperience when I first started out. He still managed to make a profit although he was spending almost 70% more than he does now!
Leon pitched this idea on the BBC’s Dragons Den and then went on to appear in the BBC’s Apprentice in 2011 and survived until week nine out of twelve. This experience has given Leon priceless promotion ‘I am regularly invited to share my business start-up experience with schools and colleges’. His highlight was being praised for his entrepreneurial talent and flare.
The most memorable moment throughout Leon’s start-up was the first day the brochures were distributed for the Master Menu in 2008. He was then approached in the hope to franchise the company; this made Leon set himself a ten-town target in order to predict an outcome to benefit a franchise. The first franchise was sold in Hull, ‘by far the best thing that happened to me and the company’.
‘It was quite difficult for me to hand the reigns over to a stranger but within a few weeks I knew I had done the right thing. We both watched the phone lines ignite after the Hull Master Menu had been distributed, the rest as they say, is history!’
The success of the Master Menu allowed Leon to pursue more business ideas: White Pumps, a website selling cheap canvas pumps predominantly to students and 0800 Divert, gives hundreds dialling 0800’s a way of getting previously charged numbers for free, available on the App Store and online.
He advertises these companies using the Master Menu that was distributed to over 40,000 homes. This was also very successful and a great ‘eye-opener’ for Leon.
‘It showed me how powerful the internet was and just how quickly I could get money out of customers online with the right advertising.’
For the future Leon is looking to grow the proven business model in the form of franchising.
"Go for it! Learn from your mistakes along the way. A successful business person is focused on the target they set and is someone who is likeable."