Founders: Ben Carroll
Founded in 2006, Velflex is a Sydney-based garment-printing business, specialising in digital heat transfer products imported from France and China.
As one of only six Australian importers of these products, the business is a major supplier to digital printers and garment manufacturers throughout the country.
What began as a one-man operation in an underground car park storage room is now a successful company with six staff, taking in revenue of 758,052 last financial year.
After finishing his degree in business and IT, Velflex founder Ben Carroll says he noticed that the designs and logos for garments were changing as full colour became a standard feature.
“I saw that garment printing would shift to short-run, full colour digital methods in the future. Promotional solutions were needed with a fast, 24-hour turnaround,” Carroll says.
But before Velfex experienced success, Carroll had to convince courier drivers that his basement business was a viable option.
“The first sales cold calls were from sitting on the concrete floor; furniture came second to sales. Clients arriving to pick up purchases called it the bat cave,” he says.
“After six months, the business needed to shift as the building was not suited to staff and I had built up enough sales to support higher rent in a business complex.”
According to Carroll, operating out of a basement was not the biggest hurdle he faced. Instead, cashflow proved to be a more serious problem.
“[I was] naive thinking that all clients pay on time and getting payment wouldn’t be an issue,” he says.
“As an importer, payment of stock is upfront, stock arrives at the end of month two, sell stock in month three and receive payment in month four or five.”
“The business and turnover was booming [and I was] putting on staff at two at a time sometimes. However, my cashflow showed a completely different story; I would soon be bankrupt and owing $100,000.”
Carroll says he had to completely change his sales method by pushing for upfront payments and – with the help of an additional loan from a relative – was able to turn the business around into positive cashflow.
As one of the few companies in Australia specialising in heat transfer products, Carroll says the ultimate aim of the business is to be recognised as an expert and educator within the industry.