24 Nov 2011, London Evening Standard, Ralph Miller
“Fruit stalls used to be dotted all over the city”, says Daniel Ox as he reminisces about the industry his family has been working in for over 100 years, “now they are being taken away”.
But Upminster-based Ox, 31, is not one for sentiment, having transformed the family business from a struggling stall into one of the fruit trade’s leading online retailers. His first forays into the market started when, aged 18, he worked beside his stepfather at his traditional fruit stall in Piccadilly Circus. As the internet took off, he decided to design a website for the family business.
“I built a one-page website and handed out flyers in the street. I picked up 10 accounts on the first day. People would come up to the stall and say I am going to take it back to the office, so I thought we should offer a delivery service to those customers and called it Fruit For The Office”.
After a year of running the business, he began to feel jaded and fed up with the lifestyle. “I was meeting my friends in the pub on a Friday night and I was going to work and they were on their last orders, so I just said I didn’t want to do it any more, and my stepdad took it over.”
Passing trade at the stall continued to decline and when Westminster council put up its rates, Ox’s stepfather had to fall back on the online customers. Having recently dropped out of university, Ox was unsure what to do with his life and spent a few months working in bars in Spain. He caught the travelling bug and decided, with his brother, to start an online travel business – beatthebrochure.com. That proved successful and he became hooked on computer programming.
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