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The Power of Condoms, Comedy and Other Lessons by Alex Partridge

  • By joann Nair
  • On December 19, 2018

Alex Partridge, the Founder of UNILAD and LADBible graced us with his presence as the keynote speaker of thenight at the “From Zero to One Million Followers” event (held on the 13th of December 2018 at Hatch,a co-working space provider in Colombo).

Alex offered us a rather insightful look into his past, and the lessons he’d learned along his journey to success.


Lesson 1 : Hard work pays off… or does it?

Alex’s first ever business venture was a website he created called “Getanypresentsnow.com” which served as a platform for people to easily find presents that matched their recipients’ “expectations” (sounds easy enough).

I spent hours learning how to build, code and populate the website with different gifts”, states Alex, as he talks of the amount of grind he put into his idea.

Even though grinding hard inevitably pays off (No, not that grind!), in Alex’s case, it didn’t.

He hadn’t put any thought into SEO (Search Engine Optimization), or even established a marketing budget!

Naturally, he received little to none traffic, and his business ended in failure.

From Alex’s experience we can see that even though hard work is important, it is also necessary to think of the specific areas that need more emphasis when it comes to starting a business.


Lesson 2 : Success doesn’t always last (specially without a hygiene certificate)


After the failure of his first venture, Alex jumped head-first into his second business – a pizza delivery company (definitely an original concept). Of Course he didn’t own his own restaurant at the time (he had just started university), so he’d buy frozen pizza, stick it in the oven (not that stick – get your mind out of the gutter!), and deliver it whenever he received an order. Predictably enough, the love that students shared for fast delivered pizza was so great that Alex was overrun with orders, so much so, that he had to hire 6 more students to help him deliver them!

However once the school board found out that he had been selling pizza without any form of license or hygiene certificate, his business was shunned. Safe to say that success doesn’t always last, and the power of a hygiene certificate should never be underestimated.


Lesson 3 : Everything has perks – even heartbreak.


After having had his heart broken by his then ex-girlfriend, without drinking away his misery like most of us, Alex had decided to try and win her back! She was the editor-in-chief of the Oxford Brookes University’s digital magazine, and Alex’s “brilliant” idea was to begin his own digital magazine in hopes of impressing her. Quite shockingly though, it didn’t.


Her magazine was female oriented, so naturally, to evade competition Alex’s magazine was to be male-oriented.

Alex remembers running down the stairs, barging into his housemate’s room and saying

“Will – what do you think of the name UNILAD?”.

That sounds great Alex!”, had been his reply – once he’d blown out a puff of Marijuana smoke of course.

Thus, out of a failed attempt at romance, UNILAD had been born.

This part of his story reminds us that, even if you don’t always get her back, it doesn’t hurt to try. Sometimes you do, other times you don’t – but who knows? You just might end up starting a successful business venture that’ll propel you into greatness. Everything has perks!


Lesson 4 : Parental Disappointment is Inevitable


After recruiting two other students to work as writers, Alex had begun creating content for his magazine. To reach a larger audience, he had acquired the email addresses of all the students at Oxford Brookes (by rather unorthodox methods that aren’t exactly legal ;)) and made it a practice to mail out his UNILAD articles to over 3000 university students, everyday. (Talk about spam mail!)


With UNILAD’s overwhelming popularity, Alex was now neglecting his university studies and focusing his energy on his digital masterpiece.

“At this point I was absolutely addicted to UNILAD”, exclaims Alex,”Traffic was spiking – it was a very exciting time!”

The only people who weren’t as excited about it, were his parents – who didn’t quite understand his infatuation with a “silly” magazine. So following a series of parental “disappointments” Alex found himself back home, wasting away in a wine shop (he was employed there – what else would he be doing?).

Sometimes in our path to success we’re bound to do things that might not please our parents, or peers. That’s okay. The important thing is to keep going!


Lesson 5 : Don’t underestimate the need for free condoms, oh – and double check your budget!


While working in the wine store, Alex was actively looking at how he could grow UNILAD in his downtime. Being “an expert” at identifying human “needs”, his next big idea was to incentivise his viewers by offering them something truly irresistible. For each like the page received, every viewer no matter where they resided, would receive, a free condom.

This time,quite naturally, his strategy worked!

Soon Alex found himself scurrying down to the sexual health clinic, only to walk back home with two industrial sized boxes filled with male condoms ready to be shipped out.

There was only one problem. Amongst the excitement, Alex had forgotten a vital part of the equation – the need for postage and stamps!

“There I was with 3000 condoms on my bed, and I realized I didn’t think about the cost for postage and stamps” proclaims Alex.

UNILAD was now receiving over a 1000 new likes per day, and this, along with the lack of capital and budget, led to quite a number of people being left in condom-less disappointment.

It was my business naivety, I didn’t know that the campaign would get so many likes!”, Alex states with conviction.

However, this condom conundrum proved to be an overall success, and by the end of the campaign the UNILAD page was up to over 30,000 likes. This also led to a lot of virality within visitors, with most receivers of condoms taking to their own social media to publicize their gifts, along with the encouraging notes Alex attached asking them to “enjoy” their winnings ;).

Bottom line, when cooking up a business strategy, it’s important to think of everything that requires investment, and allocate budget accordingly. Also more importantly, never underestimate the need for a free condom 🙂


Lesson 6 : Virality is vital, and so is a sense of humor

Alex’s new focus had become virality, so he decided to create another page that would solely rely on this aspect. Unbeknownst to the world, the LADBible had been brought into existence.

The LADBible consisted of funny and humorous “suggestions” on ways students should live their lives by. Much like a bible, but for young lads – get it?

The funny, witty content (along with Facebook’s recommendations) drew viewers to the page, and to stay on it longer, they had to like it (aha!). This was clearly a success, and LADBible was able to reach a million odd followers in just under 48 hours! (The power of comedy – am i right.)

By this time UNILAD was up to over 50,000 likes, and the next 6 months was spent promoting UNILAD through LADBible, successfully bringing it upto 500,000 likes in total.

It’s clear that page growth requires some level of virality, and humor definitely helps!


There is so much more we can learn from Alex’s story, but unfortunately this article cannot go on for much longer. What did you think of these lessons we learned? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


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