Q&A: The brothers making life easier for Aussie lads


This week we chat to Bill Ovenden, co-founder – alongside his brother,
Ed – of Queensland start-up The Lad Collective. Quitting their full-time jobs
and taking the brand to market during the COVID-19 crisis speaks, the brothers
have a firm belief in their product and their understanding of their target
market. They bootstrapped their vision with the aim of shaking up Australia’s bedding
market by helping young men take control of their bedrooms.

ISB: What was the motivation behind you establishing your own bedding
business?

BO: Ed and I endured the trials and tribulations of living in share
houses with mates who were grubby and lazy (ourselves included). For many
years, we battled to take control of the mundane tasks of routinely making the
bed, washing our sheets and being clean and hygienic across three key areas –
the bedroom, bathroom and laundry. We came to a realisation that we weren’t
alone, with many males between the ages of 18-35 lacking support in these
areas.

We realised that if sheets were redesigned in a way that made it easier
to make the bed and strip the sheets off the bed, then we would be more
inclined to do it, and so too would a large portion of other males out there. The
“messy bed, messy head” mentality rings true and with men striving to succeed,
small wins such as making the bed could lead to greater success in the long
term. Providing Aussie men with innovative and essential life products
delivered to their doorstep is at the forefront of our decision making.

ISB: What was the biggest challenge you faced in getting the enterprise
off the ground?

BO: A lack of experience as entrepreneurs. We knew that we had an amazing
opportunity, but we weren’t prepared for how quickly the messaging would gain
traction and resonate with our target audience. Having entered a new market by
leveraging a direct-to-consumer business model, we had to self-learn and find
like-minded mentors to guide us in running an E-commerce business.

Managing offshore production solely online has been a challenge,
especially without having the luxury to be physically present in another
country. The pandemic has also slowed the supply chain down. Being able to
confront these challenges and find a solution from retrospective thinking has
enabled us to mature as business owners.

ISB: Please tell us how we came up with your innovative, “out of
the box” marketing angle, and what you set out to achieve with it?

BO: The Lad Collective’s unconventional marketing strategy is devised to
accurately reflect our outgoing, Aussie larrikin personality. The process of
shopping for bed sheets – and all essential life products for that matter – shouldn’t
have to be boring, monotonous and riddled with confusing, technical jargon. We
inject humorous, light-hearted, yet informative content across multiple
platforms that bring life to an otherwise stagnant market. We are setting out
to break down the barriers for those who don’t know where and how to shop for
essential life products. Our marketing strategy is centred around a ‘what you
see, is what you get’ mentality.

ISB: How did you go about making a success of a launch during the
economically challenging environment a pandemic engenders?

BO: The launch was based purely on a hunch. People were spending more time
at home, in bed, connected to their smartphones, looking to maintain good
mental health, all the while becoming acquainted with the convenience and
safety of online shopping. We had found a silver lining. Our decision to design
our sheets locally and produce offshore enabled us to land on an affordable
price point that emphasised.

ISB: What is your vision for the venture in the next couple of years?

BO: Bedsheets are just the tip of the iceberg. In
the New Year, we will be unveiling a subscription economy centred around
delivering essential life products to the doorstep of the Australian man. We
have been working closely with a chemist and design team to create our TLC
branded male cosmetic range among various other essential products used in the
bedroom, bathroom and laundry.

ISB: And, finally, what is the number one lesson you’ve learnt on this
journey so far you’d share with other aspiring young entrepreneurs looking to
start their own business?

BO: Adopt a data-driven approach and survey the hell out of your target
customer. Make informed decisions based on the data you have collected and try
not to get side-tracked on ideas that don’t align with your underlying mission.
Don’t spend too much time trying to perfect your product. A “ready, fire and
aim” plan is key – to succeed you need sales and revenue. Rely on customer
feedback to make iterations on your product and be prepared to leave your ego
at the door.





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