Smart50 Awards 2014

7 Hard To Find

Revenue

$10.2 million

Growth

145%

Founders

Erica Stewart, 39, and Trudi Jenkins, 50

Head Office

New South Wales

Year Founded

2008

Employees

22

Industry

Retail

Website

Hardtofind.com.au

 

Erica Stewart and Trudi Jenkins’ background working for glossy magazines was the perfect training for opening up curated online marketplace HardToFind.

“As working mothers with little time for shopping beyond the basics, we realised that there was a gap in the online market for a quality, curated website where you could rely on finding only the best available,” Stewart says.

Their background meant the pair already knew the secrets of the stylists and importers – especially where to find those irresistible products.

“We both have different skill sets as Trudi’s background is editorial and mine is sales and they are very complementary skill sets,” Stewart says.

Stewart focuses on strategy and budgeting, while Jenkins spends her time on curation and design.

“We have agreed that it’s OK to have robust conversations and then we just leave it there and we don’t carry it with us,” Stewart says.

The biggest challenge for the pair has been learning how to manage the IT process.

“Having come from a traditional media background, we had no idea about online and the complexities of building a website,” Stewart says.

Employing a technical lead to work closely with the business’ development team to ensure the smooth running of each project helped overcome this challenge.

“We’ve learnt to iterate fast and frequently, analysing as we go and making those small, incremental changes that make all the difference to conversion rate and sales,” Stewart says.

In the world of online retail, change continues at a rapid rate; but the pair say they’ve come to realise that everyone’s learning at the same pace.

“When we launched HardToFind, many customers were too scared to use their credit cards online and they wanted to place phone orders with us instead – now it’s second nature to them,” Stewart says.

“And sellers who initially said no to us because they didn’t want to upset their bricks-and-mortar retailers have got with the program and since joined.”

Now HardToFind no longer has to go looking for new sellers, they approach the business.

The next change to deal with is the increase in mobile use. The pair are looking at ways to capitalise on that growth by launching an app and focusing on responsive design.

Stewart’s main problem is deciding which is the next project the business should focus on first.

“We’ve got so many exciting ideas but only so many hours in the day and so many resources, so prioritising is probably the hardest discipline – it’s very easy to get side-tracked,” Stewart says.

“Often I lie awake thinking about how we could come at something from a different angle in order to achieve a better result. I’ve been known to get up in the middle of the night to plug my thinking into a spreadsheet!”

Advertisement
SmartCompany

SmartCompany is the leading online publication in Australia for free news, information and resources catering to Australia’s entrepreneurs, small and medium business owners and business managers.

We Recommend

FROM AROUND THE WEB