What could be more “#nzentrepreneur” than a classic tale of garden shed DIY ingenuity? Wellington refrigeration engineer Jude Benedict and his daugher Inoka epitomise the kind of “Number 8 wire” innovation us Kiwis are renowned for and we reckon their Kiwi Klips are kicking!
NZE: Inoka, to start with can you please tell our readers a bit about Kiwi Klips?
I am Inoka Benedict and Jude Benedict is my father. He is the creator, designer and mastermind behind Kiwi Klips.
Kiwi Klips is a product designed and made in New Zealand – it is designed to help with hanging out the washing. Even though it is a mundane task, it requires effort and is a necessary job for a majority of individuals around in the world. Kiwi Klips was designed to make this task as easy and stress free as possible, especially for those who find it difficult. You decide the perfect height for your Kiwi Klip to suit your comfort, it attaches to a pole, post, weatherboard, fence, gate… it attaches to them all. Kiwi Klips can take the weight of any size or shaped basket with piles of washing inside. It is built to last and withstand all conditions and is made with 55mm steel and zinc chromes and plated.
My father worked on Kiwi Klips in his personal garage, where all his masterpieces had begun. His life ambition is to create and to find ways where he can help people, and his goal is to build something that could benefit society. He started creating Kiwi Klips 8 years ago and two and a half years ago he decided that this was a product he really felt would be useful. These main focus groups are the elderly, pregnant women, individuals with bad injuries, and those who find it difficult to bend over. Although Kiwi Klips would be most beneficial to these target groups most people would get great use from it.
NZE: What entrepreneurial experience if any did you and your Dad have prior to creating Kiwi Klips and how did the business come into being?
My father has come up with many ideas, he is always trying to find a way to make everyday life easier and we think Kiwi Klips has been the first invention of his with a real gap in the market. This idea was created by doing the task itself, Dad was hanging the washing out and the ground was muddy and wet, he couldn’t leave the basket outside because it would probably blow away (living in Wellington), and he didn’t want to take it inside and clean all the mud off – who has time for that? My father also suffers from lower back issues and it is a big strain for him to have to bend down to every item of clothing to peg it up. He knew that he could not be the only one suffering and wanted to help those like him that require assistance without potentially injuring their back even more.
He thought it was important to understand how the body worked and moved – ergonomic studies were looked into, however many would say hanging out your washing is not essentially a “working environment” where you are continuously doing it, however the task has certain factors that would suggest ergonomics would relate. Body position, how your hands and arms interact, neck and head position, the motion of going up and down to the basket uses a majority of the body. There is a certain impact that continuously bending down to the basket can subsequently create or add to strain and muscle ache. The back and hips are two of the first parts of the body that deteriorate as you get older. They weaken and become fragile and are more prone to injuries. Dad believes in protecting these key parts of the body for tasks even as ordinary as hanging your washing out.
Dad by trade is a refrigeration engineer, but is an all round handyman and has taught my sister and I everything we know, from survival skills, using tools, creative outlets, making and fixing items, I am constantly learning from him.
I just recently graduated from Victoria University of Wellington in Interior Architecture and Design Environments in Architecture. We are a great team – Kiwi Klips is solely dad’s ingenuity and design, and with the skills I obtained from university was able to give it an image, create working drawings, instruction manuals, advertising and photographing of the product. Dad also worked alongside a very good friend of his who assisted him making prototypes and testing different materials in order to develop and strengthen it, he also helped with deciding on the best manufacturing process, simplifying fittings and introduced him to potential manufacturers.
NZE: What have been your three biggest challenges in getting the business to where it is now?
The first challenge my father faced was the design. It was a challenge to decide what material will last, withstand weather conditions, have durability, be easily assembled by any individual, needed to be able to hold any basket (no matter what shape or size), easy to use and much more. The design had been revised over and over, many prototypes made in numerous materials, the design altered many times in order to make sure all those requirements had been considered and met.
Once the design was well established the next step was getting the units made, sourcing fittings, plus deciding on packaging form and design. This requires investment and has been a tough process, including trying to find a manufacturer with a good price. We went through multiple sources and with the help of a good friend mentioned above we were connected to someone who was able to help us get our first line of units made. It certainly was a “who you know” situation.
The third and most recent challenge of ours has been the marketing, we are still in the process of finding a way to inform our target customers and get Kiwi Klips to become a household name. From this point it is deciding the appropriate outlets for people to find and get to know Kiwi Klips, how to target our client base, where to sell the product (whether it’s retail or online) and knowing where it best fits into the market.
NZE: And what have been the achievements you’re most proud of so far?
What we are most proud of with Kiwi Klips is that people are genuinely fascinated and absorbed by the product and that feels like a great achievement in itself.
NZE: What is your business goal for Kiwi Klips over the next few years?
The business goal for Kiwi Klips for the next few years is getting an online customer database, creating a demo video that can help our customers understand and be more knowledgeable of the benefits of the product, marketing through effective mediums, obtaining customer reviews, and getting Kiwi Klips into New Zealand homes.
NZE: Given everything you’ve learnt so far, what would your top three pieces of advice be for others thinking of trying to turn an idea into a business?
Firstly, always remember why – why you came up with the idea, why you think it’s special, why you think it will be beneficial, why should people buy it, why do you believe in it? If your heart and mind aren’t in it and you don’t ask yourself these questions then you can’t expect others to become passionate about it.
Secondly and most importantly – NEVER GIVE UP! There will always be challenges but that’s the best thing about it, you cannot expect your business to grow if nothing is challenging it. Take risks, don’t be afraid to talk to people and get their input, it’s not changing your idea; it’s allowing you to see your idea through a fresh perspective.
Thirdly, always believe in your product/business. You came up with the idea for a reason and it is important to always go back to that idea and remember why you are doing it in the first place. Kiwi Klips is still in its early stages, we have many challenges to face before we will get to achieve everything we want for the business, but we will keep trying, keep moving forward with the resources we have at the moment and we wish luck to other entrepreneurs doing the same.