A Great Local Offer crack
From jet-setting around the world as an international IT consultant, to running his own web development company servicing clients including Apple and Sky TV, most would think that Steven Eyre was in it for the global market, rather than the local one. But with the founding of his brainchild, website www.greatlocaloffers.com, it appears that could not be further from the truth. With discount vouchers for a whole host of Cheltenham restaurants, bars, retail outlets, hotels and more, Great Local Offers has become such a hit with the Cheltenham community that it is now being rolled out across the whole of the UK.
Steven moved to Cheltenham in 1989 to study a HND in Business Computer Systems at the University of Gloucestershire, after growing up with a keen interest in electronics and all things computer based.
“I had my first computer when I was 10 – a Sinclair ZX81”, remembers Steven. “It was a black and white computer with graphics or sound that plugged into the TV. I wrote my first piece of software, a game, during my summer holidays and submitted it to a computer magazine. I never thought that I’d be able to make a career out of what I loved doing for fun when I was younger.”
It was by chance that Steven ended up in Cheltenham after seeing an advertisement at his local college in South Yorkshire, where he lived at the time.
“A friend and I both applied for the course and both got accepted through clearing – and I haven’t looked back since! I did the two year course and then completed my degree before I got offered a job working on the IT Helpdesk for a software company based on Bath Road.”
Throughout the late 90s Steven spent his days travelling to numerous different countries every week to places including the USA, Russia, India, Australia, Scandinavia and the Middle East as an International IT Consultant for the Cheltenham-based company. “We were part of the internet bubble before it burst”, he explains, “Every week I was travelling overseas to deliver seminars or sales support to a whole host of international companies, it was hugely exciting to be part of that.”
When the bubble burst unfortunately so did the company, but with a wealth of experience to his name, Steven felt confident enough to go it alone and has headed up a number of companies since. Following a move to Reading to run a telemarketing company, he was soon drawn back to Cheltenham where he had first met his wife Rachel in the Slug and Lettuce. They now have two children Emily, 7 and William, 8.
“I love Cheltenham and it’s always been a great place to live. I really like that it has a local, small town feel to it, yet there’s still a huge choice of things to do, places to go and restaurants to eat in – I heard somewhere that Cheltenham’s got more restaurants per head than anywhere outside London! Don’t take my word on that, but it does feel that way!”
It was because of this abundance of consumer choice in the town that Steven introduced Great Local Offers in Cheltenham. He explains, “Cheltenham is full of small, independent businesses and the site works by offering these companies the chance to offer discounts and promotions to subscribers, whilst getting on with whatever it is they do best. Of course there are other similar sites online, but these mainly promote the larger chains. Although we do also feature the chains on our site, the real aim of Great Local Offers is to promote the businesses that are truly local to the area – the places which make an area unique.”
“We launched at the end of last year and the site was thankfully a hit. The Fresher’s Fair at the University of Gloucestershire was a key turning point for us when we considerably increased our subscriber numbers, which in turn attracted more local businesses who wanted to feature on the site. It was very much a case of the chicken and the egg in the beginning, but we are now at the stage where we have so many outlets listed that new subscribers are signing up everyday, so everyone benefits.”
Yet it was not so quick to get the site off the ground, as Steven explains, “For a long time I’ve had the idea of a website with local content. I pitched the idea to my fellow directors at the telemarketing business in Reading years ago but it was a relatively new idea back then and they weren’t convinced. Yet it was always at the back of my mind and I later developed a piece of software that could help create a voucher promotion site. Competition was growing by that stage and, as usual, there was always something else to do, so the idea got shelved again.”
As was the case for a lot of business ideas, the recession last year created an opportunity for Great Local Offers.
“Understandably everyone wants to save money during a recession whilst small businesses need to keep customers coming through the doors, so last year seemed like the right time to take the plunge.”
A self confessed workaholic, Steven’s hard work is far from over as he plans to replicate the site’s Cheltenham success in every other UK town and city.
“My aim is to grow the site to the point where Great Local Offers becomes the website for people who are looking to visit local outlets, whether they are residents of the area or just visiting.
“The site is already available in other counties throughout the UK but we are aiming to develop into a franchise operation in 2011, so that we can give the site the attention it needs to make it the same success across all regions.”
Look out for the Great Local Offers app for the iPhone, which is due to be launched in January 2011 and Android app due out later in 2011. If you would like more information about Great Local Offers please visit the website at:
Or call Steven directly: 08456 780786