Vashi started his first company aged just 20 in his home country of Tenerife, Spain. His love for his English childhood sweetheart led him to England, and his love of diamonds led him to set up Diamond Manufacturers Ltd in 2007. With no extensive former experience in the industry, Vashi had to teach himself, and to begin with was greeted with derision by the industry. However, with his eye for detail, entrepreneurial flair and determination, Vashi developed online diamond jewellery retailer, Diamond Manufacturers Ltd.
Q: What inspired you to set up your business, Diamond Manufacturers Ltd?
A: A combination of my passion for diamonds and for e-commerce.
Q: You started your own company at just 20 years old, had it always been your goal from a young age to become an entrepreneur or go into business?
A: Yes, it had always been my goal for as long as I can remember.
Q: Did you have concerns when starting up your business or were you confident from the start that you could be successful?
A: I had several concerns but always believed that I could be successful. Where there is risk there is opportunity, and I thrive with great challenges.
Q: The online diamond jewellery industry is a hugely competitive one, yet you had no former experience before entering into it in 2007. How did you manage to adapt?
A: Coming from a diamond wholesale background was an advantage as I had an established supply chain at source level, although making the transition into the online jewellery industry was not easy.
I studied the online space carefully, researching every diamond jewellery retailer; I did my homework so as to develop a business model that would be both scalable and sustainable.
Q: What were some of the greatest challenges that you faced during this time?
A: Increasing competition together with a downturn in the economy made it very difficult to become profitable especially being a small business. Having said that, for every problem there is a solution so I conducted due diligence and managed to turn most of the threats into opportunities.
Q: How does Diamond Manufacturers Ltd differ from other online diamond jewellery retailers? What is its USP?
A: Diamond Manufacturers offers the strongest guarantee in the business backing every product with the combination of a no questions asked money back guarantee, double-the-difference price guarantee and lifetime warranty.
Diamond Manufacturers is different from other online diamond retailers as most are brokers, meaning that their stock is sourced from diamond wholesalers. Whereas, Diamond Manufacturers sources its diamonds directly from cutters, meaning most are held in stock. This gives us control over the merchandise, such as the flexibility to offer our customers the option to view the diamonds before they make a purchase. Many competitors do not hold physical stock and rely on information from third party supplier databases.
Q: You’ve described your business model as being built around your customer’s expectations can you explain how this works in practice?
A: As a customer-centric organisation we foster a culture of employee development through praise and recognition. We treat employees in the same way that we want them to treat our customers. We have an open communication policy where everyone is encouraged to share ideas, take initiative and promote the understanding that making mistakes is fine as long as it creates learning opportunities.
Everyone in the company knows where we are, where we are going, and how we plan to get there. As a result, it’s everyone’s goal to exceed our customers’ expectations.
Q: What do you enjoy the most about being an entrepreneur in your chosen industry?
A: I love my job and wouldn’t change it for anything in the world. What I enjoy the most is being part of our customers’ most special occasions like engagements, weddings, anniversaries and birthdays. I am very hands on and have a lot of involvement with our customer service team, making sure I stay in contact with customers by taking calls from time to time.
Q: Do you sometimes find it hard to create a work/social life balance?
A: Yes, very hard. This is the most difficult aspect of my life, as I am married and have two small children with whom I can’t always spend as much time as I would like.
Q: What would you describe as the three most important characteristics that an entrepreneur should possess?
A: Drive, determination and persistence.
Q: What are the biggest challenges start-ups and entrepreneurs face when starting a business?
A: Growing quickly and profitably. It’s easy to grow a company fast or to make good money as a one man band, however building a business with real overheads requires good decision making on an on-going basis. Every good decision you make can take you to the next step, whilst every bad decision can take you a long way back or even worse. A lot of entrepreneurs I meet wish to have an office before they have begun to trade. My advice would be to work from home or even your local coffee shop – Starbucks
is a good example. Running a successful business and ego don’t mix well, if you are in business for the wrong reasons it will not work.
Q: What stops you from questioning or doubting yourself when faced with challenges or events that have not gone your way?
A: I analyse the outcome of every decision that I make but at the same time, I quickly stop looking back on what has been and choose to look forward to the best that can be.
Q: What advice would you give to businesses that may be struggling in the current economic climate?
A: The current economic climate poses threats to a lot of operating businesses, and with threat comes opportunity. Many businesses which are currently struggling could quickly turn their fortune around and become successful by changing their strategy. Sometimes it’s an easy and quick fix while other times the business needs to be remodelled and restructured. My advice would be to take an objective view of the current situation, look at the causes and quickly devise a strategy for change. Ask around, especially internally, as your employees usually have a level of insight one can’t always see. Don’t cut your marketing spend until you have cut other expenses that can’t produce sales.
Q: If you could give future entrepreneurs three pieces of advice, what would they be?
A: Follow your passion, do your homework, and let your imagination fly while keeping your feet on the ground.
Q: What are your plans for the business moving forward?
A: My plans are to become a better business in our customers’ eyes. We have aggressive plans for expansion, which include going International this year, and I am fortunate to have with me a special team of people who share my vision and passion.