Hobnobbing with John Wilson from Supplycompass

posted by 2 years ago in Hobnobbing
Hobnobbing with John Wilson from Supplycompass

So, what do Supplycompass do?

Many small and medium sized brands find it surprisingly difficult to find and connect with good international manufacturers. We make it easier for them.

Supplycompass is an intuitive, informative and structured manufacturer sourcing platform that makes the whole process of producing a product more efficient for both brand and manufacturer. It ultimately helps build trust and create stronger, better relationships.

What’s behind the business idea?

Initially we came up with the idea when two friends of ours founded a bicycle company. They had so many issues finding the right manufacturer and then so much back and forth with their samples – the whole process seemed to be really difficult and such a waste of their time and money.

A quick Google search for ‘how to find international manufacturers’ leads to either pretty unhelpful blogs or to Alibaba, which is the first port of call for most small businesses. The problem is that online directories such as this have no sophistication and lack the trust of users – Alibaba.com currently has a customer rating of 1.3 out of 10 on TrustPilot. Information is misleading and unchecked, and there is no structure or detail to the requests sent to the manufacturers. The result is little chance of a successful outcome.

We knew there had to be a better way for small and medium-size brands to connect and work with international manufacturers and so we started Supplycompass.

Was there a breakthrough moment?

For me it was the repetition of the same moment over and over again. I must have spoken to hundreds of designers and company founders and the problems they face are almost always the same – they just don’t have enough information on manufacturers to make informed decisions.

A big moment also came at the start of 2016 when we starting really engaging with the manufacturers. We’ve now visited over 100 and we have found that what we are doing is not just something the brands need – it is also something that the manufacturers want and need.

How is the company doing?

Since founding Supplycompass in November 2015 we’ve reviewed over 100 factories, we’ve worked with 15 UK brands and we’ve developed robust supply chains, including 18 Indian manufacturing partners.

We have also brought some high profile investors and advisers on-board including one of the founding investors in Net-A-Porter and Rapha, and the ex-MD of SGS – the world’s largest manufacturing testing, inspection and certification company.

Do you have any regrets?

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? I’m sure there are many things that we could have done better but the reality is that all of the challenges, the mistakes, the setbacks, the luck and the interactions are all part of how we got to where we are. I would say it is very important to let these things happen, but make sure you recognise and reflect on them so that they can be used to implement positive changes in the company.

Hobnobbing with John Wilson from Supplycompass

What makes you stand out from your competitors?

In terms of our product there are two things. Firstly, we only work with manufacturers that we have a proper relationship with. This means that we can make detailed, up-to-date and accurate profiles on them. Secondly, we guide brands through a logical design process, which includes everything from initial conception of design through to delivery. This saves them time and costs as well as making international manufacturers more accessible.

What is your definition of a positive customer experience?

A positive customer experience is one that makes them walk away feeling like the service surpassed what they were expecting. It should be an efficient and enjoyable experience delivered at an affordable price that leaves the customer wanting to recommend us to others.

Ultimately, we want to help build trust and create stronger, better relationships between brand and manufacturer.

You’re currently reaching out for investors, what do you plan to do when you have raised this funding?

We are raising our first round of investment at the moment, crowdfunding on Seedrs.

In the short term, we are investing our money in areas of the business that will drive growth and improve the customer journey. By June 2017, we are aiming to have finished the initial development of the fully functioning platform. This will allow us to grow our user numbers significantly.

In the longer term, we plan to use the platform and business model we are creating to expand into more countries and different product categories. We believe we have the opportunity to become the go-to choice for anyone who wants to get anything made – offering them the easiest, most efficient and stress-free road from design to delivery. We want everyone, regardless of size to have access to the world’s best performing and responsible manufacturers.

What advice would you give yourself now if you were starting a business?

Both Gus and I feel very lucky that we are involved in something that is solving a genuine problem and that we are passionate about. So it would definitely be to try and concentrate on those two things. If it’s a success it is going to be your life for many years to come!

Talk to as many people as you can about it – don’t be scared about sharing your idea as you will learn far more than you ever thought you could by sharing and talking about your idea with people from different circles and fields.

Finally, John what is your favourite biscuit?!