Meet The Boss: Ian Griffiths, chief executive of

AT first glance, the differences couldn't be more stark.

Working in the heart of London's financial district, Ian Griffiths' mantra was all about making money.

The investment banker worked for Japanese bank Mizuho, a client of Lehman Brothers.

However, when the financial landscape collapsed in 2008, his world changed too.

Leaving the capital, the car enthusiast returned to the North-East to set up a new vehicle-based business.

A radical change from the capital's banking environment you may think.

However, the venture still focused on the importance of money, with its aim laying solely on helping motorists get real value for their cash.

His website,, supports drivers to find the best and most affordable mechanics in their area to keep them on the road.

The Newcastle-based firm's website allows drivers to post job requirements, such as MOTs and services, who then receive quotes from garages.

Once the work is completed, customers are asked to leave feedback to help the next motorist find the right mechanic for their needs.

It now has more than 4,000 mechanics and about 26,000 posts, and the 34-year-old couldn't be happier.

He said: “I worked down in the city for just under ten years, but when Lehman Brothers went bust, the market changed a lot.

“All of the risks takers stopped doing that and our firm followed suit.

“It was difficult to trade when nobody was taking risks.”

Mr Griffiths decided he needed to change.

In 2009, he launched the website,, offering a marketplace for people to find used cars.

He said: “The site was a terrible user experience to be honest, and we were a bit naïve because Auto Trader had such a place in the market.

“But, out of that, came the idea for

“We had seen these models work in the building trade and could see it work for car repairs and mechanics.

“We launched it in 2011 and it has grown quickly ever since.

“The beauty of it is that if people need a service or MOT, they can simply just post the job to our site.

“We then send it out to the closest 20 garages who are signed up, and they are asked to come back and leave quotes.

“It means that customers can compare prices of different local mechanics, but also compare the feedback left by other people.

“Motorists still harbour a lot of mistrust and wariness about being ripped off by garages, and that's where we come in.

“We work hard to help our rated mechanics all over the country to make new contacts in their local area, and to ensure customers have a platform to report back about the service they have received.

“We are growing very strongly, some really get the idea and others perhaps not to the same extent, but people are seeing the real advantages of the service.

“In one sense, the jobs are the same and it another they are different, but it's all about trying to create value.”

Favourite North-East building and why? Durham Cathedral. It brings back memories of university and is impressive in its own right.

What was your first job and how much did you get paid? Asda checkouts. I was on the minimum wage.

What is the worst job you have had? Asda freezers and Asda trolleys.

What would you cook for me if I came around for dinner? Spaghetti Bolognese. It's every man’s speciality, right?

What would your superpower be? Time travel. I hate sitting on trains.

Name four people, dead or alive, who would be at your perfect dinner party. Steve Jobs, Ricky Gervais, Steven Hawking and Louis Theroux.

What is the most expensive thing you have bought – other than car or house – and how much did it cost? A website, it was fairly expensive, put it that way.

Who is the best person to follow on Twitter and why? It’s too difficult to choose one individual, but we keep up to date with a range of trade contacts.

We work hard to keep abreast of the latest goings on in the motoring industry and Twitter is a great way to do that.

Favourite book? The Fear Index, by Robert Harris.

When did you last cry? I may have shed a tear when my little one was born.

What is your greatest achievement? Aside from the clichéd answer of having children, within business, I’ve achieved a number of things I’m proud of.

However, I think securing backing from a UK plc for my business has to rank right up there.

What is the best piece of advice in business you have ever been given? This is something I tell my guys every time I’ve had a beer.

I was told my first day at work on a trading floor in London by my new boss, “You must listen to every single conversation that is going on around you, even when you are on the phone or having a conversation yourself”.

That advice was invaluable, it’s a skill that’s tough to learn but has proved time and time again to be amazing advice.

Favourite animal and why? I’m allergic to cats, dogs and horses, so maybe a fish?

Most famous person on your mobile phone? Dean Smith, staff photographer at car magazine, Evo.

What was the last band you saw live? The Killers

Describe your perfect night in. A curry and a good movie. Simple.

In another life I would be… Exactly the same.

Who would play you in a film of your life? I've asked the office on this one and it's unanimous. Seth Rogan or Jonah Hill.

What irritates you? Bad table manners.

What is your secret talent? I've just got my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu blue belt, but that’s more for perseverance than talent I think.