The 25-year-old founder of mini motocross franchise Braaap has outlined an ambitious plan to open 50 new retail outlets in the next five years.
Tasmanian-born Smith entered the business world as a teenager, fuelled by his passion for motorcross. Braaap aims to promote mini motorcross activities among kids.
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“I wanted to get the sport pumping in Australia, so I researched some suppliers and imported my first 10 bikes from overseas,” Smith told StartupSmart.
“It took me three years to save up the money. I used to wobble signs for Domino’s Pizza and [do] whatever I could to save the money.”
Not satisfied with the products available, Smith travelled to China at age 18 to find his own suppliers and manufacturers in order to develop his own bike brand.
After finding a manufacturer, Smith convinced his parents to mortgage the family home in order to open his first store after opening his first store in Tasmania in 2008. There are now four stores in Victoria and Tasmania.
Smith’s retail concept has seen the business named Australian Specialised Retail Business of the Year three times.
Smith is also a former Tasmanian Young Australian of the Year, Young Australian Entrepreneur of the Year and a runner-up for International Young Entrepreneur of the Year.
But he’s not stopping there – Smith is determined to open 50 new franchise retail outlets in the next five years.
The franchises will be based on Braaap’s existing stores in Tasmania and outer Melbourne suburb Frankston, including indoor foam pits for kids to practice their jumps and tricks.
“We have worked passionately from day one… to develop a solid and exciting investment opportunity for potential franchisees,” Smith says.
“Franchising is the ideal opportunity for someone who has the passion and drive to own their own business, while also offering the security and support of a successful concept.”
“We have implemented comprehensive marketing systems and lead generation, education and training tools that will enable franchisees to benefit from our experience.”
Braaap is looking to open stores in Victoria, South Australia and NSW. Start-up costs are around $300,000 to $400,000, and Braaap will consider franchisees who apply as business partners.
“We’ve been lucky because even though retail is getting slammed, our store sales have been growing… We’ve spent the last two or three years really fine-tuning the concept,” Smith says.
“Braaap is not just about a product – it is about a brand and a lifestyle… Everyone says to me that we’re in the business of motorcycles but we’re really in the business of lifestyles.”
Smith says the only requirement for anyone looking to join the Braaap network is “BYO passion”, stressing experience and age are unimportant.
“You’d be surprised at the age groups that apply. Most people that apply are aged between their late 20s and early 40s,” he says.
“The average franchisee is someone really excited to take things into their own hands and start their own business, but smart enough to join an established brand.”