Celebrating 18 Years: Reflecting on Serve Legal's Journey to Market Leadership

June 2024 marks a significant milestone for Serve Legal as we celebrate our 18th birthday. This occasion offers our team a moment to reflect on the journey that has shaped Serve Legal into the market-leading business it is today. Hear first hand from our CEO about his journey through the business world, to creating Serve Legal in 2006.

meet the team pic (11)"Having started on a graduate training programme with Allied Domecq in 1991, running pubs in East London and Soho (in London’s West End), I was asked to leave the company as I was too much of maverick. I then joined a start up called Waterfall Holdings which had a great idea around American Pool Bars - but failed miserably on execution. After a year with Waterfall Holdings and many failed interviews, I ended up at Wizard Inns which was a pub and bar start up backed by British Venture Capitalist, Guy Hands. With the help of his financial support, we built the business up from nothing to a 65 strong pub and bar company which we sold to Marston’s Pub Co for £90million in 2004.

Having gained a taste for the entrepreneurial way of working, I teamed up with Charlie Mowat and helped develop The Cleanspace Partnership. Alongside this, I set up a Commercial Consultancy called Coolerking Resources which specialised in getting small and mid size pub companies the best procurement deals possible.

With all this going on in the background I still felt a need to prove myself in the corporate world so joined a large pub business called Laurel Pub Co, backed by Robert Tchenguiz. The first day I joined I knew it was the wrong fit for me but I am glad I soldiered on and persevered as it was here that the seed of the idea for Serve Legal was planted.

In the space of a couple of weeks Laurel Pub Co had at least 2 or 3 licences suspended due to underage drinking, meaning potentially millions of pounds being lost in revenues and profits. We needed to find somebody to help us prevent the sites being permanently closed or having severe restrictions placed on their licences when they re-opened. All we could find was a retired policeman charging far too much. The bars re-opened with severe restrictions and disastrous revenues. Myself and my future business partner, Julian Sargeson, were asked to leave the business not long after and as we pondered the future we remembered our issues around the bars being closed and being unable to find anyone to help us. We Identified a problem and looked to come up with a solution. Serve Legal was born.Untitled - 2024-06-05T124702.120

Serve Legal set out to offer a service that offered retailers a chance to demonstrate due diligence and responsible retailing when selling age related products such as alcohol, knives, vapes, tobacco, lottery and gambling products, pharma products and on line services. The business has now grown to be valued at £30 million and has no debt. Not bad considering we started the business in our bedrooms!! More importantly, over 18 years the business has given work opportunities to over 40,000 18/19 yr olds some of whom are now part of the Senior Management Team. Proudly, one became my Sales and Marketing Director at 26 years old - whilst over half of the overall team are former auditors. I am now the oldest person remaining as my business partner has retired. The company is now very young with most of the team under 30 which gives me incredible insights into how they approach work and how they interact with their colleagues. Gone has the cynical mistrust and assumptions about colleagues which I was used to, now to be replaced by a far more positive and consensual working environment which looks to involve everyone in the business. As a result Serve Legal is a far more robust organisation which is ready to expand rapidly in 24/25." 

Ed Heaver, Co-Founder and CEO of Serve Legal