While other students scribbled lecture notes or texted friends about party plans, Elliot Ramler and Jonathon Green sat in the back of a Monash University lecture hall taking calls from customers looking for deals on media players.
It was not long before their desire to bring reasonably priced media players to the Australian market bloomed into a burgeoning online retail enterprise.
Ramler and Green, like many before them, realised that the marketplace was not meeting their own consumer demands.
The solution? Go into business for themselves to satisfy that unmet demand.
“We initially launched as a niche online store focusing on digital media players, we saw a gap in the market as there was no company focusing on this product line,” 25-year-old Ramler told StartupSmart.
“We both had media players but had to source them from overseas and because we loved the products so much we launched ELJO to service this growing market.”
Since then, online retailer ELJO has expanded its product offerings to include a full range of electrical consumer goods, from entertainment to whitegoods.
Part of a generation that has grown up with online shopping as the norm, Ramler and Green wanted to take the hassle out of appliance shopping — no high pressure, in-store sales tactics, with name-brand products sourced at a good price with minimal overheads.
The early days of running the business gave the pair the sort of smarts rarely taught in university.
“Running a start-up requires being creative. We didn’t have an office and we were both at university most days, but we had a website and wanted to look as if we were a ‘big’ company.
“So we got a 1300 number and diverted this to a pre-paid mobile phone which we carried around with us. Often we would find ourselves at the back of a lecture theatre answering the phone and taking orders, whilst customers just assumed they were calling an office.”
Ramler says controlling your own destiny was one of the most appealing aspects of starting a business.
“When you run your own business, you know that what you put in, you get out.
“The harder you work, the better results are achieved. This is not necessarily the case when you work for someone else.”
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