A fictional character called Sven is the driving force behind online retailer Details by Sven, which curates a recommendation of around 100 top products for men.
“What’s unique about us is that we stock exclusively Australian and Scandinavian-designed stuff,” says Luke Ryan, who started Details by Sven with his business partner Asa Nystrom.
“Late in 2011, Sven was kicking back browsing online, looking for some new stuff for his wardrobe and home,” the business says on its website.
“What he realised was that there was no place online where he could find a collection of unique and well-designed stuff for men in one convenient place.”
“So it was that Details by Sven, an online store for men, was born. Sven is now on a mission to comb through the great cities and towns of Australia to unearth the finest collection of details for men ever assembled.”
The business is based in a warehouse attached to an art gallery overlooking Bondi Beach. Ryan talks to StartupSmart about Sweden, Shopify and his plans for the future.
How did you and Asa meet, and what are your backgrounds?
Asa and I met several years ago and are in a relationship. Our joint love of design, fashion and the internet led us to the Details by Sven concept.
My background is in sales and marketing, most recently spending two years in Sweden at an internet start-up called TestFreaks.com, which aggregated consumer electronics information for an online audience.
Asa’s background is in buying across the food, wine and fashion industries, both in Australia and Sweden.
What inspired you to launch Details by Sven?
The concept for Details by Sven came about early in 2012, as I was finding it increasingly frustrating to find the one online store that made it easy for men to quickly find and shop for the best collection of Australian-designed accessories.
The store also gets a lot of inspiration from Scandinavia due to the founders’ ties to Sweden.
We try to feature Scandinavian brands from time to time and a lot of our branding is driven by Scandinavian trends.
How did you fund the business?
The business is entirely self-funded, with all revenue being reinvested into more marketing, development and design.
We are bootstrapped, and feel proud and lucky to maintain control of the project at this point.
How many staff do you have?
Right now it is just the two of us. We handle all buying, logistics and marketing activities.
Your website is very sleek. What are the key elements of your digital strategy?
We are big believers of the lean start-up philosophy and try to take advantage of all the amazing tools available to online businesses.
Our store is built on the Shopify platform, and we place great emphasis on social media and email marketing, using such tools as Facebook, Twitter and MailChimp to build and communicate with our customers.
Male consumers are becoming increasingly discerning about what they buy, which means more opportunities but also more competition. How do you guys stand out from the pack?
We want to do one thing well and that means staying true to our role as curators, and only stocking and recommending the best products and designs in our category.
That may mean losing out on potential revenue but we want our customers to be able to trust us for a consistent and reliable source for the very best in Australian and some occasional Scandinavian accessories and gifts for men.
What has been your greatest challenge and how did you overcome it?
The big challenge for us is building traffic to the store.
As we are bootstrapped and maintain focus on the organic growth of our customers, we have to work very hard on hustling and spreading the word about the store and what we stand for.
There really is no shortcut here and there is no substitute for hard work. The more we hustle, the more we tell our story, the bigger our share of traffic and customers.
What’s the biggest risk you face?
The only risk is losing focus.
With growing trends in both eCommerce and mobile commerce, and online male shoppers on the rise, there is a big opportunity in this space to carve out your own niche.
We believe we have a unique selling point and the only thing that can jeopardise our growth would be our own lack of focus.
What are your revenue projections for 2012/13?
We don’t really want to put a figure on the annual revenue.
But if we continue to double traffic and revenue month on month until 2013, we will be happy with that and will then sit down and map out more projections.
At this stage, we can afford to be patient and our main aim right now is to solve a problem for people and to build a core base of fans that really love what we do.
Where do you see Australian online retail heading, and how will you leverage the growth?
I think the signs are really positive in Australia for continued growth in online retail.
After working in Europe and the US with online retailers, you can tell there is a definite lag in Australia both from retailers moving online and the consumer’s willingness to buy online.
We plan to leverage this growth by staking our claim as a trusted source for men to find and buy the very best in Australian/Scandinavian designs.