Where Are They Now? The Story Of Sophie Cornish And Holly Tucker, Co-founders Of notonthehighstreet.com


By Sarah Abrahams, AngelNews

Here at AngelNews, we are big fans of any organisation that helps boost small business growth. Couple those values with innovative, quality products, and a focus on excellent customer service, and you have one of the most high profile e-commerce businesses in the UK today; notonthehighstreet.com. The brains behind the award-winning online marketplace are best friends Sophie Cornish and Holly Tucker, who between them have over 30 years of media and marketing experience working with big brands such as L’Oreal and Boots, top five advertising agencies and major magazine houses such as Conde Nast and National Magazine Co. Both Sophie and Holly have also run their own small businesses in the past, and worked on the staff of other internet start up companies. They met when they worked in advertising 12 years ago and became best friends not realising that over a decade later they would become highly successful business partners.

So what is notonthehighstreet.com? From garden to gourmet, lingerie to linen, bracelets to handbags, cushions to kids’ clothes, scarves to stationery, notonthehighstreet.com has a fantastic range of beautifully made, original products. The website brings together over 1,800 independent small UK businesses that combined sell over 35,000 products through a single checkout. Each small business has been carefully chosen by notonthehighstreet.com, for its innovative, well-made products to inspire shoppers looking for style, originality and quality, but who never seem to find it on the high street.

The story so far…

Notonthehighstreet.com launched in April 2006 and was an instant success. With Holly and Sophie’s extensive marketing skills, their PR campaign drove 16,000 unique users to the site on the first day, and to date the company has won an estimated £38m of editorial press coverage – not bad for a company that’s only 5 years old! And let’s not overlook the awards the team has won; some highlights include being named a top 50 e-boutique by The Independent, London winner of the Grazia O2 awards, named in Marie Claire’s top 23 UK businesswomen shaping the future of Britain, and Holly Tucker was also awarded Entrepreneurial Woman of the Future at the Women of the Future Awards and has also been featured in Management Today’s 35 Women Under 35 and Glamour magazine’s 35 Women Under 35 Power List 2011. Phew!

The excellent PR and consumer response post-launch certainly attracted the attention of the Venture Capitalists, and in 2007 notonthehighstreet.com had its first major development when SPARK Ventures plc, the quoted venture capital organisation focused on early stage investments in the technology, media and telecoms sectors, became a minority shareholder in the company. This was followed in years to come by further investment of £1m from Venrex LP in 2008 and a joint investment in 2010 by Index Ventures and Greylock Partners, who between them have invested in the likes of Betfair, Skype, LoveFilm, Net-a-Porter and Facebook. Sophie and Holly attribute these investments as being significant in enabling even more small businesses to become part of the notonthehighstreet.com community, and to build notonthehighstreet.com into a brand that is synonymous with small, creative lifestyle businesses and products.

The mantra of success: Never Compromise Quality!

A real highlight for the company came in 2010, when it hit sales of £15m, just four years since launching the website. But whilst sales are high and flourishing, one thing that will never be compromised is quality. The team at notonthhighstreet.com pride themselves on selecting only the most creative and original businesses (and their products) and are passionate about maintaining the quality and brand of their site, that has so greatly contributed to their success to date. In fact, over 40 small businesses apply each day to become part of notonthehighstreet.com, and the company estimates that over 88% of applications to sell on the site are turned away to ensure that only ‘the best of the best’ are represented.

Making a difference

As well as being a hugely successful commercial company in its own right, it’s important to commend the support and opportunity that notonthehighstreet.com has given to start-up and early stage retail businesses in the UK. Describing the concept behind notonthehighstreet.com, Co-founder Holly Tucker explained “We have created a unique shopping site, like no other, for consumers bored with repetitive high street offerings and at the same time creating a unique small business marketplace selling high quality creative products.”

Similarly, speaking about their passion for helping UK small businesses to trade online, Sophie says “Our ongoing developments and investment in the business will bring ever more small businesses and shoppers together online. Our success record has proved the urgent need for e-commerce support for small businesses, hundreds of which had told us that this lack of support was their greatest worry coupled with the fact that they needed new, non-traditional ways to sell their products.” We certainly admire the work they are doing in boosting small business growth in the UK, and will be encouraging our community of AngelNews retail companies to consider being ‘not on the high street’.

What’s next for notonthehighstreet.com?

With a rate of over 135% year on year growth, double the number of subscriptions and 7.5m web visits in 2010, the growth potential of notonthehighstreet.com is undeniable. Led by two ambitious and inspirational founders, the company is aiming high with expectations to double its total transaction value to £30m+ by the end of this year. We have no doubt that notonthehighstreet.com will become a household name in years to come.

Happy Christmas Sophie and Holly – we will be visiting the site to do our Christmas shopping this year!

Click here to view a video interview with Sophie and Holly

For more information on notonthehighstreet.com, or to start browsing the website shop, visit www.notonthehighstreet.com

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