In the second part of our new Getting Growing series, we’re chatting with another one of our entrepreneurs who came to Transmit Start-Ups for their second round of funding, having had a good experience with us the first time around! We’re chatting with Oliver Lee, founder of Kijani, a sustainable dinnerware company that offers beautiful natural dinnerware that is both beautiful and eco-friendly! Using online giant marketplace Amazon.com to sell their range, Oliver explains to us the pros and cons of selling mass market.
Tell us a little about your business and your start-up story to date?
We started towards the end of 2017 by launching our eco-friendly disposable plates. They are made from naturally fallen palm leaves and so no trees are chopped down to make the product. Furthermore, they are 100% biodegradable and compostable and so great for the environment. Forget those flimsy paper plates as ours will hold all foods as they are so durable!
We've had out-of-stock issues over the past 12 months as we've struggled to get the timing of inventory re-ordering correct. Our typical lead time from India (our country of manufacture) to Amazon.com is around 90 days.
How did the idea / concept for your business first come about?
We had researched e-commerce, including drop shipping as an option for a business. We obviously knew Amazon well but not from a 3rd-party seller perspective. After deciding we wanted to join the Amazon seller revolution we searched for some niche products - ones in marketplaces that were not over saturated and also had a cool meaning behind them, in this case eco-friendly. From there we did a test run of a small order with our own capital before expanding with the first startup loan.
Why did you choose a Start Up Loan over other types of finance?
Easiest by far to apply for.
Why did you decide to return to Transmit Start-Ups for a second loan?
Great and simple process and we had a wonderful experience the first time around. The interest rates are competitive too.
What has your business achieved so far? What is your favourite success story that has helped you succeed and expand so quickly?
We're now ranking on page 1 on Amazon.com for some great search terms which is getting us in front of a lot of potential customers. This is what I would call the Amazon snowball effect, as sales can quickly follow once you appear in the most relevant search results!
What was your process in deciding what you needed for your business and the loan amount necessary to succeed?
Our process was forecasting our needs for inventory in 2019. Sales on Amazon can grow very quickly and so you need to have the necessary capital to pull the trigger on more inventory. You have to remember, the lead time from India to Amazon.com can be up to 90 days!
Would you recommend a Start Up Loan from Transmit Start-Ups to other businesses?
Of course, highly recommended.
How was your experience of the Transmit team, did they help with your plans?
Yep, [the Transmit Start-Ups team were] very quick and efficient.
If you could give one tip to a new entrepreneur, what would it be?
Follow your gut instinct - sometimes that is scary but most often is the right thing to do!
If Oliver’s story has inspired you to turn your start-up dreams into reality, get in touch with us today to begin your entrepreneurial journey.