Business Matters talks to co-founder of Supplycompass Gus Bartholomew about his disruptive company and get some of controversial suggestions to others looking to start out in business.
What do you currently do?
I am the co-founder of Supplycompass. Supplycompass is a production management platform for responsible brands that want to find and work with the best international fashion, furniture and homeware manufacturers. We are based out of London and Mumbai.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
Anyone who produces product as part of his or her business knows how hard setting up a reliable supply chain is. The truth is, finding the right manufacturer for your product is time consuming and, even once you’ve found someone who you think is the right fit, building a trusted relationship and working alongside them can be full of challenges. These difficulties become even harder to overcome when you start looking at overseas production.
After seeing so many business struggle with this, we set out to build a solution that made this process easier for all. We wanted to provide easy access to the best responsible manufacturers around the world and bring greater structure to the whole process – making the working relationship easier for both brand and manufacturer.
What defines your way of doing business?
Trust and transparency: The foundation of any good relationship is trust and this is so important in the buyer-supplier relationship, especially when working at distance. In an industry that is traditionally draped in secrecy, we think its about time people were more open with their information and worked in a collaborative manner. As a business, we live by the values that we are building into our network.
Who do you admire?
The founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard. Not only has he succeeded in growing his company into one of the most successful and respected apparel companies in the world, but he has managed to do it whilst sticking to his principles: Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
Be more agile. As a business in the early stages it can be easy to make decisions based on your feelings rather than the facts. It’s important to look at the data, be highly flexible and be ready to change things quickly to sculpt your solution into what your customers really want. Get your product out and into the hands of real users as soon as you can, learn from them and improve.
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
Be determined and take advice from everyone who will give it.