Magazine article Management Today

How I Beat the Odds: Adrian Everett - Founder of Electronic Cigarette Brand E-Lites

Magazine article Management Today

How I Beat the Odds: Adrian Everett - Founder of Electronic Cigarette Brand E-Lites

Article excerpt

I was an RAF pilot for more than a decade before leaving in 2006 to start my own business. I had always wanted to do my own thing, and in between trips to Iraq and Afghanistan I had tried my hand at many harebrained schemes - everything from doggy daycare to setting up an astrology website.

My business partner, Michael Ryan, and I were both in a rubbish place at the time. I'd lost my house because I couldn't keep up with the mortgage payments and Michael was going through a divorce. The smoking ban had come in and we came across the story of this chap in China who had invented an e-cigarette - an unheard-of device at the time. A smoker for 17 years, I knew this had the potential to be a life-changing product.

Michael and I both borrowed pounds 5,000 from family members and we started working from a small flat in Redditch.

In 2009, our first trading year, we turned over less than pounds 100,000. In 2013, we made pounds 43m-worth of sales in the UK. E-Lites is now the leading brand of e-cigarettes in the UK, and we're going international this year, starting with South Africa.

When we were trying to get the idea off the ground back in 2008, no one believed that e-cigarettes could be a real product category and banks wouldn't lend to us. To change the mindset of smokers was a huge thing Doctors had been trying for years to come up with nicotine replacement therapy and they were largely unsuccessful. So the first challenge was getting people to believe in our vision.

The next step was making a business worth pennies into a global brand We set up a website, our own route to market, and platforms for distribution and promotion, with no support. …

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