Successful businesses must have one fundamental component locked down – the ability to deliver their product or service on time and to a high level of quality. Without this, the business will struggle to grow.
In mid 2015 #nzentrepreneur Nicholas (Nick) Jack, and his co-founder Nick Hewitt found themselves in exactly this situation with their business HeatSource NZ. After two years in the industry, they struggled with consistent supply of indoor and outdoor electric radiant heating solutions.
In a classic example of necessity being the mother of invention, Nick and Nick decided to design and manufacture their own New Zealand made heaters and take them to the world.
NZE: Nick, can you give us a brief overview of Heatsource and what you do?
HeatSource NZ has been supplying electric outdoor heating to the hospitality, residential and other sectors since September 2013 primarily through our unique portables imported from the UK.
Our rental and sale customers include some of Auckland’s leading hospitality locations including Cibo, Non Solo Pizza, Sails, Swashbucklers and Little & Friday and Ambrosia in Rotorua. We have also been portable electric heating supplier to the Lewisham Hospitality Awards, NZ Fashion Week and Taste of Auckland since 2014.
NZE: Who and where are your target customers?
Our target customers are any environments needing to keep people warm during the colder months of the year. Initially our focus was on hospitality but we soon found enquiries coming in from other sectors including offices, warehouses, private residential, churches and others.
NZE: Who, how and when did you first come up with the idea for your business?
I saw the UK-made portable heaters on an investment website while living in London, and on returning to New Zealand mid-2013 I contacted the manufacturer and successfully pitched to be their exclusive New Zealand distributor.
However over 2014 and 2015 we experienced significant problems with consistent supply from the manufacturer and malfunctions of the heaters. This was incredibly frustrating – to miss the opportunity to build our business in the portables division due to lack of supply and all while spending much too much time repairing the units we had out with rental customers. Then the penny dropped.
We realised, “Hey – we’ve been in the market two years, we know our product inside and out, and know our market intimately and it dawned on us… We can do this ourselves!”
So in June 2015 we decided to start exploring the idea of developing our own portable electric radiant heater tower. We found NZ electronics designers Invision, and industrial designers Procreate, through trusted contacts and set to work on creating the best possible heater for our marketplace. From our combined efforts the HeatSource Infinity was created.
NZE: What entrepreneurial experience had you had, if any, before this one?
In 1998 at age 24 I started Genesis Group Ltd, providing business migration consulting services, and grew to possibly the largest Long-Term Business visa consultant by end of 2002 when Labour govt effectively ended the policy. From clients of this business I also started and part-owned an English school and purchased a travel agency, with the common thread of providing services to visitors and short and long-term migrants. We sold the English school and travel agency within a year of the above mentioned business immigration law changes.
NZE: What are three things about Heatsource that you are most proud of?
1. Gained the New Zealand exclusive distributorship of the UK-made portable heaters, and introduced this new product to New Zealand.
2. Built up a highly satisfied recurring customer base of rental customers.
3. Reacted to major supply and product quality problems of our imported product by venturing into our own design and manufacture project. This culminated in the unveiling of the Heatsource Infinity prototype in Auckland in November.
NZE: What’s the biggest entrepreneur lesson you would like to share with other Kiwis thinking of starting their own business?
Things don’t always work out the way you think they will – always run a ‘pessimistic’ scenario analysis and be prepared for it.