Founder/s: Paul Simpson & Dominic Sutton
What problems do you solve and what products or services do you sell?
StockTrim has a SaaS product, an online app that helps larger SMB’s save money with their inventory costs.
It’s really difficult for businesses that buy and sell products to know how much to order and when. It is especially challenging if companies have multiple supplier lead times. If they have a local supplier, it might only take a week to get in. If they have suppliers overseas, it could take 90-180 days. In that case, you have to order a lot in advance.
If they get it wrong and they order too much, they waste a lot of capital. They will have all their capital tied up in goods that are moving slow. But if they don’t order enough, they run out of stock and can’t sell to their customers.
What our software does is forecast based on all your products and sales data. It figures out how much to order and when and then provides, on the screen, a list of products, a list of forecasts, and some recommended order dates and order quantities.
It just removes the manual process that a lot of customers do. It eliminates the need for complicated spreadsheets, which can be awkward. It provides this in a very easy-to-use format.
Who and where are your target customers?
About 60% are overseas and 40% in New Zealand. We’re focused on the English-speaking markets, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the US, and the UK. We also have customers in Japan, Singapore, South Africa, and Europe. Once we grow further, we will go out into other markets.
We target the larger SMB markets, so companies who are doing between $2million-$20million in annual turnover with teams of between 5-20 staff.
There’s a massive number of customers in that market. These businesses have gotten to a certain point where they can’t do everything manually in spreadsheets, but they’re not quite a full-on large business yet. They are retailers, manufacturers, and wholesalers.
How and when did you first come up with the idea for your business?
Prior to starting StockTrim I worked as a software engineer with business process and workflow software. So many people in their ordering process would bring up their old sales reports and do guesswork to figure out how much they would need to order. I thought, ‘We now have access to a good piece of technology where you can create an algorithm that goes through all the sales data and make the decisions for you.’
Instead of bringing up all the sales reports and spending time figuring them out, which isn’t always accurate, it’s much easier and more efficient if a piece of software reads through the sales data and makes the decisions for you.
I did a bit of research in the evenings and weekends and did all the market research to figure out if enough people would buy this. Is there a real need? Is this going to be a viable business? And I thought, ‘Yeah, I think this is.’
What are three things about your business that you are proud of?
1) It’s satisfying to have come up with an idea, developing it, seeing it through into a growing startup.
2) I’m also glad that I found my co-founder, Dominic Sutton, because although I had a decent product before I met him, I struggled to get it out there and people talking about it. He’s a charismatic and outgoing guy, and he’s great at bringing people together. So, he’s helped a lot in putting StockTrim out there so we could make these sales.
3) The third thing, it’s really good to have so many customers, from all sorts of industries, that all have the same problem, but we’re providing a solution for it. So, it’s satisfying to see a customer come in, start using it, and start getting value from it.
How do you market your business and what advice do you have for others around marketing?
Most of our marketing is online, and we do content writing. We’ve got a blog where people who are having problems with their inventory planning can get some advice. While they’re there, they can see that we’re experts in our field and see that we’ve got a tool that can automate many of their workload which will help them out a lot.
We also have great partner agreements with other apps. So, other popular apps like Xero, Cin7, QuickBooks, TradeGecko (Quickbooks commerce), Unleashed, and Vend. They have quite a large customer base, so if any of their customers want the forecasting and planning we do, they can find us in their add-on lists.
My biggest piece of advice is to understand your business. There’s a lot of hype out there and a lot of advice that you read that is not very practical. It’s a matter of understanding your business, exactly who your customers are, and showing some intuition to figure out where they are and how you can get in touch with them. Nobody likes long-winded business descriptions, so boil down your value into snappy one-liners that stick with people.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in building your business so far?
The one thing above everything else is a lack of capital. I think we’ve got a good vision here, and there’s always somebody who can help us with our vision and strategy. The biggest problem is making it happen and getting the work done. I’m just one guy. I can’t do everything on my own, but how exactly do you hire a team if you don’t have any money? That’s the biggest problem. I’ve got all these great ideas, but I often feel like I’m in the weeds doing the day-to-day grind.
What is the biggest entrepreneur lesson you would like to share with other Kiwis thinking of starting their own business?
Take the advice you can and be pragmatic because statistics show that about 90-95% of tech startups fail. In general, only around 60% of small businesses fail. So, if you start a small services company or a small brick and mortar store, you’ve got a 40% chance of success, but it’s much lower as a tech startup. The biggest reason for that is that people get excited about ideas, but they’re not honest with themselves. They go in, and it’s either not going to work, it’s not technically feasible, or there’s not a big enough market or a pressing enough problem. People can solve their problems in other ways without using the software.
My biggest advice is to make sure you come up with a product that solves a real, pressing problem that people want to pay for. Be honest with yourself if it’s going to work, develop a pragmatic strategy, and then systematically go through it and make it happen.