After 14 years of working in large companies like BMW and Royale Limousines, Will Roberts decided to leave the corporate sector to launch a unique lifestyle management service. Founded in October last year, Alsaker helps clients save big bucks on major purchases – whether it’s a car, house, jewellery, or anything else of significant value.
Truth be told, Roberts isn’t your typical startup entrepreneur. He has more in common with the ‘old school’ business world and the last generation of hard sell corporate salesmen. But over the years, he has mastered the art of sales, and built an impressive network of suppliers – meaning that he can get deals that are otherwise unattainable.
Taking some big personal and financial risks, Roberts reinvented himself as an intermediary negotiator between buyers and sellers. Unlike most startups today, he decided to direct his business interests upon an elite niche market of consumers, using his skills in corporate management, financial negotiations, and automotive and real estate sales to deliver a personalised service.
The official Alsaker website homepage and corporate mission statement reads, “Our mission is simple: to save money for our clients. You can rely on Alsaker to research, negotiate, acquire and deliver on your needs, all while making your life easier.”
Put briefly, Alsaker Lifestyle Management is a consumer services and asset acquisition startup. The company assists individuals, SME executives and corporate high rollers save money on high-end purchases – this by product research, negotiations, procurement and sales support. Although Alsaker acts as a facilitator for transactions of all kinds, their focus is on clients spending large amounts of money on assets. This way, they stand to save considerable amounts of money – from thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars – as well as time.
Roberts says, “After dealing with this clientele for many years, I found that a high level service has been lost, especially in Sydney. With Alsaker, we will make sure that clients get that exclusive service that they’re accustomed to and they really want.”
Without any clients, employees or external funding, Roberts independently founded Alsaker Lifestyle Management. The startup is still a one-man show and sole proprietorship run by Roberts, but a high level of business autonomy suits the Alsaker model.
According to Roberts, “Alsaker isn’t the type of business that is suited to raising money. And I always want to ensure, especially in the early stages of the business, that we offer a bespoke, high-level service directly to the clients. I don’t want any interference from third parties.”
Roberts is willing to keep his hands on the helm, while running the business alone: “It’s going to be just me in the short-term while we build out our clientele. This way they know I am going to be 100 percent accountable for them.”
Thus far, public marketing hasn’t been a priority for Roberts, though he has put up some interest-driven posts on LinkedIn and Twitter. He says that much of the awareness he’s been generating has been through word-of-mouth and networking at events: “I’ve built a large network over the years, and I’ve been touching base with my contacts to get the word out.”
This won’t be the case for much longer, as Alsaker’s first marketing campaign will launch in February. He’s been working closely with the team at Hooch Creative to ensure the campaign isn’t generic. “I can’t do mass marketing with this type of service, because it’s confidential and discrete. It’s not something that can be generically advertised. We have to be very targeted and strategic.”
Trying not to define Alsaker in terms of older business models, the lifestyle management angle has been a challenge to get across to the market. Roberts says, “The key difference with us is that we are not a concierge service. We’re an asset acquisition service. When people call in, they will get through to me directly and I will be available to handle the request straight away.”
Alsaker is a membership-based service, with two membership levels. There’s the Lifestyle Membership, which is $5,000 per year, and the client is limited to five major transactions. Then there is the Executive Membership, which is $15,000 per year, and the client has unlimited transactions, as well as access to 24/7 service.
While the membership costs may seem high, Roberts guarantees that, over the course of the year, he will save his client at least the membership fee. In fact, recently, he saved a client over $3,000 on a single car purchase: “He already negotiated on a particular car, and I went in and saved him a further $3,000 on top of what he already thought was a good deal.”
Roberts currently has four clients, and will be taking a total of 35 by the end of 2014. The reason he wants to cap the number of clients he takes on in the early stage of the business, is because he doesn’t “want to be caught up in the growth of the business, and not have enough time to give clients the high level of service they expect and need”.
Roberts also stresses that the business is not only about what he has to offer. He says he wants to assist other people in his network as well. “People like Steve Hui from iflyflat have great offerings and their mission aligns with what I’m doing with Alsaker: saving people money on high-end purchases.”
“We’re the gateway for our clients to utilise these other products and services that they might not have discovered or thought they needed before. We’re the tool to open up their eyes to other great services out there that will actually save them money.”
More information on Alsaker Lifestyle Management is available on www.alsaker.com.au.