Since the age of 11, Ben Richardson has been intent on running his own business. We caught up with the determined entrepreneur who tells us how he finally achieved his ambition…
From an early age, Ben Richardson has been fascinated with making money. It all started at just 11 years old when he ran the Scout tuck shop. Selling sweets on the 45-minute journey to school, Ben told us it was the easiest money he ever made.
But with disgruntled parents, who weren’t happy with their children eating sweets every day, Ben had to think of a new way to make money. “I became fascinated with the clothing industry and would buy end-of-line stock and take it to car boot sales, selling clothes out of the back of a suitcase Only Fools and Horses-style!”
Spotting a gap in the market
But it was in 2003 when Ben finally found a more sustainable business. As a motocross and skateboarding fanatic, he spotted a gap in the market for an online motocross lifestyle clothing retailer. With backing from a friend’s uncle, FreestyleXtreme was born.
“In the first three to four years we didn’t know what we were doing,” admits Ben. “It’s only in the past five years that we’ve got a clear direction of where we are going – we’re an online retailer that focuses on two-wheel sports.”
Quick to realise that the demand for these products was strong, FreestyleXtreme created a name for itself. The company has grown from specialising in a niche product to a wide range of action sports products and has become renowned for having the up-and-coming hot Californian brands.
It’s not just consumers in the UK who are fans of the site: “We’re a pan-European retailer. Now, with the DHL’s help, we’ve opened up to the whole world,” explains Ben. Within the past eight months alone, FreestyleXtreme has launched in New Zealand, Australia, the US and Canada.
In a competitive market, how has the company developed to cater to the worldwide market? “We offer a localized experience,” explains Ben simply. “If you’re French, the site is in French. We’re based in the UK and we will ship with DHL on a 24-hour express delivery, so you get as good an experience as being in France. This is what has fueled the growth over the past five years.”
So, can Ben speak any foreign languages? “No, but I can quote lots of colours and product types,” says Ben laughing. Using students from local universities in Bath, Cardiff and Gloucester, he has found a sustainable way of getting the site translated into a number of languages.
But it’s not been all plain sailing. Struggling to crack the German market, the entrepreneur had to take a step back and re-evaluate their offering. “The FreestyleXtreme brand doesn’t quite fit the German market so we’re working on repositioning ourselves and making sure our service is as good as our German competitors.”
Advice for others
As Ben enjoys success with FreestyleXtreme, he has some sound advice for fellow entrepreneurs looking to go global. “Confidence is the key,” he told us. Stating that so many people will give you a million reasons why you can’t do something, Ben is sure that if you put the research and time in, you can.
Goals and dreams
After expanding their product offering, cracking foreign markets and gaining new fans and customers, what’s next for FreestyleXtreme? “Our goal is to be the world’s largest action sports retailer. We want to follow in the path of Asos – everyone knows who they are,” enlightens Ben.
What’s more, the entrepreneur also plans to expand the website into an online media centre with news and features, making FreestyleXtreme the one-stop-shop for all things action sports.
“I won’t be content until we get there,” said Ben determinately.
View the range of products at www.freestylextreme.com.
Follow FreestyleXtreme on Facebook.