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Kerryne Neufeldt, CEO of EyeSlices, high tech “cucumber slices”.
After finishing her B.Com degree Kerryne had the opportunity to work in London at a sandwich shop. Their rigorous screening process fascinated her. It turned out that they were looking for managerial qualities in the candidates. A backpacking company offered Kerryne a job in South Africa, for which she returned within three months of her departure for the UK. Working in a corporate environment wasn’t for Kerryne and she left that job a few weeks later. Luckily the experience the gained in the UK gave her the confidence to start her own business. The fact that she was young and could live with her parents whilst building her business also counted in her favour. By doing this she could keep her overheads to a minimum.
Making Mistakes and Learning from Them
In her first business, which was importing a cosmetic product from Switzerland, Kerryn’s business partners and sales reps hoodwinked her out of her own business. From that experience she has learned so much and it ultimately formed the foundation of her current business.
As a result of that encounter, Kerryne urges entrepreneurs to consider two things: contracts and staff management. Read and understand each and every contract before you sign it. Unfortunately you cannot take everybody’s word at face value. Kerryne suggests you take the time to contact a person’s references on their CV. If you fail to do so you run the risk of investing your time and effort into the wrong person for the job.
Had you implemented the same methodology at the very beginning, would your company be different today?
Absolutely. If I knew this ten years ago, I would have been able to sell my company to a very large company by now. As an entrepreneur you need to keep in mind that the opportunity will present itself at the right time, only once you are open to it. You need to trust in the timing of life.
Differentiate Yourself from your Competitors
EyeSlices offers globally unique patented technology in their products. They also add value to the customer’s experience by guaranteeing the results.
Finding Your Ideal Customer
Through online channels they did research on their specific target market. Kerryne created a Facebook advertisement for “human guinea pigs” to test the products and complete a quick survey using SurveyMonkey after a month or so.
Kerryne suggests starting with the end consumer and truly defining them and their behaviour . In the case of EyeSlices it’s mainly women of almost all ages who care about their skin and who are routine people.
Does having a marketing degree help you in this business?
Kerryne sees the advantage of having a degree as a professional foundation. It takes a certain amount of perseverance to complete a degree or diploma and Kerryne feels that it sets a person apart from the rest. Tertiary education improves one’s critical thinking abilities, as well as they way you approach problems, regardless of the content of the degree.
Your Income Streams
Their professional range is aimed at beauty salons and spas. These products cannot compete with the products sold in large retail stores where people tend to buy on account. Instead, their products compete based on value added to the consumer – the results that they see after using the product. Salons and spas rely on the exclusivity of the product.
Beauty Eye Gels, their second range, is not sold on the South African market, only exported to be sold in retail. These are disposable, impulse-buy products that a person would use on an ad hoc basis.
Tools to Run the Business
They tried to position their online sales app as not to be in direct competition with their salon sales. For their specific business a large online store such as Takealot did not work.
Identify Your Main Driving Force
You need to consider your reason for starting a business. Expect failures the first few times. Do you really see a gap in the market? Do you really want to change the world? Starting your own business is not a quick-fix solution; it takes a lot of hard work. Understand the price you pay to reach your goal. Consider the sacrifice required before you see the results.
Reset Button: If you had to start over in a different industry, what would it be and why?
Kerryn would not want to be anything but an entrepreneur. She triumphs in completing the business loop with return on investment. She plans to start a unique business that helps entrepreneurs in the tech space take their ideas from concept to commercialisation. Similar to an incubator business, but not quite the same.
One word: integrity. Ensure that what you believe you are, say you are and what you do all line up. Negotiate a win-win deal at all times and your business will be sustainable.