GripIt founder gives his top tips for exporters

GripIt founder gives his top tips for exporters

Plasterboard fixings company GripIt currently exports to 32 countries, with plans to sell products in 20,000 stores across the globe. CEO and founder, Jordan Daykin, offers his advice to businesses looking to export their products and get them into retail stores.

When I first came up with the idea for GripIt, my plasterboard fixings company, I did not expect to be exporting to over 30 countries by the time I hit my early 20s. But to be fair, I was just 13 at the time and with my grandfather, came up with the concept of what would become a product that could sell anywhere in the world. It solved a universal problem it seemed – fixing items, up to a weight of 330kg, to plasterboards.

Four years after that light bulb moment and many prototypes later, we applied for a patent and as soon as this was approved, sample packs were sent out to the big name DIY stores. Within 48 hours Screwfix had requested a meeting and decided to stock it in 500 UK stores.

But we wanted to take the product further and after applying to go on Dragon’s Den, Deborah Meaden decided to invest £80,000 for a 25% stake in the business. Since then we have also raised money on crowdfunding platform, Crowdcube, to accelerate our expansion overseas. We are just about to close our second round of funding and have exceeded our original investment target of £1.5m to help take us to the next stage of business growth.

Now four years on from the Den, the business has gone from being stocked in 3,000 stores across the UK to 5,000 independent and big stores, such as Wickes, Curry’s, Maplin’s, Buildbase and Plumbase, Argos and Homebase. But for us the real success has been in international markets, with GripIt now exporting to 32 countries.

It was recently stocked in Builders Warehouse in South Africa and launched in Bunnings stores across Australia and New Zealand, and soon to be stocked in 2,500 Home Depot stores across the US. Within the next three years we expect to grow to 20,000 stores across the globe.

Investment has been critical to the company’s international growth so far and will continue to play a key role in driving it over the next few years.

For a lot of start-up businesses the thought of operating in markets they are unfamiliar with and in ways that are totally alien to them, it may seem like a long and lonely journey ahead, but here are some pointers to get you started:

  • Make sure you research the market properly – and most important, ensure first of all that there is a need for your product there.
  • Spend time creating an exporting plan – this will help you to set out your goals and routes.
  • Looking into shipping costs, logistics and overseas taxes – this can become an administrative nightmare that is both time consuming and constantly changing, so stay on top of it.
  • For each market you plan to go into, you will need to adjust your marketing strategies and POS accordingly.
  • Be cautious when selling a product even if you have a patent here in the UK – make sure it is fully protected everywhere you want to export with a patent.
  • In order to test the water consider selling online overseas first – this will allow you to ‘dip your toe’ in first without fully committing and to figure where your market is.

This may seem like common sense, but when thinking about exporting, make sure you know your product inside and out, know the strengths (and weaknesses) of it and, above all, believe in it. Believing in yourself, as well as the business you want to grow, is a key factor in every successful business.

Campaigns like the ‘Exporting is Great’ initiative, launched by the Government in 2015, are aimed at getting UK companies exporting more and in all sectors around the world. So with plans to get 100,000 additional companies exporting by 2020, remember that as small businesses, we all have a role to play in flying the flag for Britain, and in continuing that great tradition of entrepreneurialism and innovation overseas.