We caught up with Charles from Works Out of The Box to find out what he’s up to and what the future holds.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and Works Out of the Box
My name is Charles Rivett-Carnac, I’m currently at Sussex University studying Business and Marketing. I run an electronics retail company called Works Out of The Box which I started at 16 and…. I’m 6ft 6”.
How did Works Out of The Box start?
I started by selling my electronics under the business and brand name Laserware, but it came to a point this year where I had to register as a limited company – so I started Works Out of The Box Ltd, which retails Laserware-branded electronics. When I was 16 I started importing laser pointers, and from then on I just enjoyed importing various gadgets from Hong Kong and China. I always used to do my own website and coding but it has now got to the point where my time is best spent focusing on the importing side of the business – it made sense to outsource my website and branding needs to Adjust Media.
How is it juggling University and your businesses?
Not easy. With target shooting and musical commitments to also juggle, it’s usually University work that becomes the lower priority. Why study business when you can run a business? I was happy to gain a 2.1 this year, but I think it’ll be harder to keep up in my final year.
What tips would you give someone wanting to start their own retail business?
Pick products to sell that promise a good margin, taking into account taxes and VAT – don’t pick something just because you like the product. My two most disastrous and costly importing decisions were two products that I really loved, but I didn’t think about the figures properly. Also remember that, unlike services where completed jobs can be forgotten about, you’re under moral and legal obligations to give at least a year warranty. Finally, risk only as much as you can afford to lose. Ebay is a great place to start small and grow quickly.
What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve come up against starting and running your businesses?
Umm… My first big order to China, where I had to trust someone 5000 miles away with the majority of my savings in the hope that he will send back products. And preferably the products would work.
What does the future hold for Works Out of The Box and yourself?
The aim is to get Laserware products into as many shops as possible and distribute them effectively through Works Out of The Box. My future, however, depends somewhat on the success of the business in the next eight months. I’m hoping that the business will prove to be scalable and I will carry it on as a full time job after university. Adjust Media will hopefully help me find new markets and customers through social media along the way, and this could prove vital to my survival.
What’s your favourite app?
Best invention of the 21st century?
I’ll take a gamble and say the Raspberry Pi, in the hope that turns out to be incredibly popular and hugely significant.
What is your favourite product you have ever sold?
Xenon torches. Huge flashlights that are nearly quadruple the power of a car headlight. Spy Camera Alarm Clocks were also a highlight.
What’s your favourite chocolate?
I’m not a massive chocolate person, but it has to be Cadbury’s.
Any last words?
If you’re an entrepreneurial student or graduate and you’ve got an idea, go for it. You’re at a time where you can afford to go bankrupt – low living costs, no family to support, no mortgage. Once you’re roped into a big organisation, you may never get the chance to do so again.