But the 38-year-old from Poulton persevered and self funded his business, EKM, with credit cards, working from his bedroom in 2002.
He then moved to a desk in a shared office in Burnley and as his workforce grew, he moved to Caxton Road, in Fulwood, last year.
Now, some of the same companies who rejected his ideas use EKM to sell their products online.
EKM is an all-in-one e-commerce solution that enables clients to create their own successful online shop. It works closely with shop owners, offering dedicated support and assistance to help them to bring in sales and grow their business.
Antony says: “We take pride in the quality of our service and the level of support we offer to shop owners. We assign a dedicated account manager to each customer, who will help them to create their online shop and get them ready for their first sales.
“Fast forward to later down the line, when their shop has been live and trading for some time. We understand that as business owners, they are busy working on other aspects of their business, and so won’t always have the time to work on improving their website.
“It’s therefore easy for their shop to become outdated and start looking a little tired.
“This is where our design team will review merchants’ sites to look for areas of improvement, which could be anything from feature recommendations to a whole site redesign. This ensures their site will stay fresh, relevant and ahead of the competition.
“Our customers range from hobbyists who start a side business in their spare time to make extra money, to large enterprise level businesses with teams of people behind them.
“As a digital tech company, it’s no surprise that the majority of our business comes from online channels such as Facebook and Google. Outside of the online world, we sometimes attend trade shows where we can speak to aspiring business owners face-to-face.”
Antony has 74 employees, who he makes sure he takes care of by offering extravagant rewards for reaching milestones such as trips to Ibiza, Creamfields and celebratory nights out. The office is also billed as a fun space, with a three-storey slide to whizz down.
Antony adds: “Our goal is to ensure everyone should ‘do something you love’, both for shop owners and our own team members. Our new office was designed to be a great place to work in. We’ve got a Airstream caravan meeting room, three-storey slide and auditorium.”
Sarah Brady, 25, is so passionate about her work, she moved up from being an account manager to a junior web designer.
She says: “During my time as account manager, it became apparent to me I preferred the design aspects of the job, so when a position became available in the design team I applied and was successful. I have created a couple of theme variants and seen them on shops, so it is a bit of a confidence boost that you’re doing something right.”
John Slater, 29, designs user interfaces for machines and software, such as computers, mobile devices, and other electronic devices,
He says: “My role is about building easy-to-use and great-looking web interfaces for EKM, which are being used by thousands of merchants. When merchants use one of our products, they are usually interacting with a part of the experience I designed. Working on a product you really care about helps with job satisfaction. Seeing a single change, no matter how small, making huge impacts on merchants’ businesses is what makes it all worthwhile.
“Having an office with a slide might be a little special, but making impact on potentially millions of customers every month is far more rewarding and one of the main reasons I come to work.”