Rob Williams and Jason Tavaria launched Dolphin Music whilst still at university, and with a lot of hard work they have created and established a very successful business. They are one of the leading providers of musical equipment on the internet and have built up a chain of 3 shops in Liverpool, Gateshead & Huddersfield.
What gave you the idea for Dolphin?
Most of our friends were DJs; we were not, but we enjoyed the music. We discovered a computer program called Rave Ejay which allowed you to create a dance song on your computer very easily, so easy even we could do it!
We knew that all our friends who DJ'd would love this and so we started the business focusing on computer music.
Our idea was to create an online shop selling such equipment, but to also be more than just a retail service and offer customers the chance to learn about making music by providing tools such as our sound card selector to help them decide.
We knew we could get people to the site by working with search engines such as Google and Yahoo. We believed we had a good idea and had nothing to lose by giving it a go.
What were you doing at the time you had the idea?
When we set up we were both studying at university. When Rob left university he was working full time and then he would come home and work on the website for the company.
What was the first thing you did to try and make the idea happen?
After the first year we had designed the e-commerce site, managed to get the bank to agree to give us a credit card terminal and had even had a few orders. Working from a student house, boxes of equipment would arrive and we would ship them out again via the Post Office and then via our couriers.
After university we moved to a bigger house with some friends and carried on working. Within a year we had around £100,000 stock just in the house and turned over £1 million in the year.
We then moved to our first business premises, a derelict office in an industrial part of Liverpool. We started recruiting staff and got a sales manager, some sales staff and a full time Logistics Manager. Our product ranges online grew from just Music Technology products, to PA and DJ products.
Our last move happened in November 2005 when we moved to a 14,000 sq ft office / warehouse complex. We currently employ 56 people and we are pursuing our newest venture which is a chain of music shops that we plan to grow across the country.
With the growth of the company we have created a relaxed working atmosphere with empowered employees who take pride in their professionalism and we encourage creativity and innovation in our staff.
Who helped you, and how?
We used credit cards and read books and websites. As for advice and help, we really didn't get any. We would have liked some but at the time there was nothing that we could see that was available to us.
What obstacles did you encounter along the way?
The main barrier was entry into a market were there was already large established companies and relationships that existed between them and suppliers. It was hard to break into the circle but we did it.
When did the idea start looking viable?
When we moved to our first official business premises and we started employing staff.
Today Dolphin Music sells products from 300 different suppliers such as Yamaha and Shure to home users, professionals and the education sector. In the last year Dolphin Music has built up a chain of 3 music shops in Liverpool, Gateshead & Huddersfield.