I set up Cocoon Vehicles in 2006 after running a successful trial within a dealership. Unfortunately the dealership didn’t want to take the scheme any further forward, even after making a healthy profit.
I saw potential in the business model and with a colleague, we set up Cocoon Vehicles. Before the name “Cocoon” had been thought of, we went through a number of different names. But sat with Cocoon after Jeremy Clarkson reviewed the Audi RS4 on Top Gear.
At first we ran Cocoon Vehicles as a bedroom broker, with a website and a virtual number pointed at my mobile. Dealing with any enquiries and orders in the evening time. Our first car that we delivered was a beautiful Mercedes CLS320 Coupe to a Joinery company in Nottingham.
My boss at the dealership, Myron Nykolyszyn found out that he was to be made redundant. My business partner approached Myron about coming into the business, and to our amazement he accepted.
We sourced some office premises, eventually finding some beautiful office space on Pride Park, which just happened to be opposite the Audi dealership. We moved into these in the January of 2008.
It was very lonely for Myron at first, as you can imagine. We had a huge space and there was only Myron in the offices at this time. But as time went on, we got busier.
As per the main startup brief, we were still running as a broker. So we would advertise other funders deals and take a commission. Commission wasn’t high and between Myron and myself, we took it in turns to pay the rent every month on the office. Whilst my other business helped with paying for the phone bills and Internet.
One of the brokers we used, had a friendly chap who was our Rep. His name was Paul Stone. He would pop in with figures for our customers and have a friendly chat over a cup of coffee. Paul explained that he felt that he was very successful but couldn’t achieve anything else working for somebody else.
Myron and me sat down, and discussed where we needed to take Cocoon Vehicles. As you can probably read from this, our other business partner was not involved in these conversations. She had landed herself a very good job with a manufacturer and it was very rare that we saw her.
I suggested that we needed to ask her for her shares to sell to Paul to help with the company investment and future. This partner hadn’t put any of the money into the business and the input she had given had got less and less. The way we looked at it was that there was only so many months before both Myron and myself ran out of cash to push the business forwards, and we let Paul was the man.
The first port of call in all of this was to have a meeting with Tracey. We both said the sooner the better. Unfortunately I was away that weekend, but Myron felt confident to hold the meeting, and we knew what our goal was.
As you can imagine, the meeting didn’t go very well. And the partner was very upset. I don’t think she could see that it was something we had to do, to push the future of Cocoon. In the end she agreed, but this was after a meeting with just her and myself in a local pub.
Once this had been sorted, the way we went about it was that I was to sell my shares to Paul. And the money he invested into the business was to pay for his salary until he brought the sales up to a figure that could sustain his salary, Myrons and the overheads.
Between Paul and Myron, they did a fantastic job. I was still involved behind the scenes, looking after the marketing and the accounts. But I could only get into the office in the Evenings or Weekends, due to my full time job.
At this time, we were pushing Short Term Contract Hire. There was a big gap in the market for this, as people didn’t want to commit themselves to a vehicle for 2 to 3 years. The downside to this was there was only a couple of providers.
As time went on, our main provider of Short Term Leasing vehicles went under, and the majority of the cars had to be recalled. We had to write off a large amount of commission that hadn’t been paid and look for another source.
Paul was still doing a great job with the long term offers, and had brought some very good customers on board.
We approached a company in Manchester who was promoting short term cars on the internet, we arranged a meeting with one of the owners. Before we knew it, we had got ourselves a new provider.
The only downside to the new provider was that we would take the cars on and then rent them to our own customers,the plus side was that they generated all of the contracts and did the credit searches on the customers.
Sounds to good to be true! It was. This company was extremely hard work, changing the goal posts at every opportunity. There administration team was shocking and trying to get commission out of them was proving very difficult.
Time went on and we built our supply of cars from this supplier to around 35, we were making quite a bit of money. If only they would pay three commission invoices. Again, changing the goal posts. This company changed he way we had to do the cars. Now they would supply the vehicles to us at base costs and we would upsell.
This proved very messy, as communication within their office as poor. Not only that but we found out that they had accepted customers for vehicles, that wouldn’t get a £100 loan with a sub prime company, let alone anything else.
This relationship ended sour and legal proceedings had started between us. In the end, we held back payments for vehicles. Due to the large amount of commission and deposits that they owned to us, and that we had already paid out.
The end result was that we handed over what we owed and nothing else, we believe a victory on our side. This company is still going today, but thankfully it has done our business some good due to their poor administration and customer service, we have now got a lot of their customers on our books.
I took redundancy in the March of 2009, some of the money received went into Cocoon and the balance went into the bank to ensure that I could sustain a lower wage. I’ve got to say that working for your own business is completely different to working for someone. You take more calculated risks and anything you achieve is for the partners and yourself.
Due to the positive results in our accounts, we decided to take a number of vehicles on ourselves, this included a number of Sciroccos, Audi A3’s and a couple of Mercedes. Still based on the upsell, this brought us in a guaranteed amount of income each month.
We eventually found another supplier for short term vehicles, this supplier was a fresh of breath air after the previous. We found the cars being delivered were to a high standard and the standard of serviced received by their administration department was excellent. We now have over 150 vehicles with this supplier and the relationship between the two companies is strong.
Cocoon Vehicles even managed to survive through one of the worst recessions the country has ever seen, we achieved this by working hard and streamlining our business. we also feel that by keeping up with the latest trends of social networking and the Internet, we have grown the business.
Although our initial startup was just internet based, it took us almost four years to get the website we wanted to live. We spent a lot of money developing the sites, and thanks to Paul the funders who we deal with had faith in the systems we wanted to publish.
Up until the website was launched in March of 2011, we used a number of different WYSIWYG options to keep our customers up to date, to be air those worked really well. And Myron did wonder why we had spent so much money on developing the new website.
Since the new website has been launched, he is of a different opinion. The new website is very clever in that it fetches all of the deals offered by a number of funders, it then workout which one is cheaper and publishes it on the site.
At the time of writing, the website has over 10,000 pages listed with Google.
And so you have it, a brief history of Cocoon Vehicles. We now have over 50 cars ourselves, 150 sublet in and we deliver approx. 30 long term vehicles every month. Cocoon has grown over the years and we now have a courier and logistics arm to our business.
For more information on Cocoon, please visit Cocoon Vehicles Website