In my past life, I was a travelling salesperson, complete with sample bags, catalogs and a packed suitcase. As the Head of Sales of a multinational footwear brand a few seasons ago, I spent a good chunk of time meeting customers, and I had the privilege of selling to retailers across the world 🌎🗺 I learnt that wholesale is about relationships, sharing stories and opportunities, and retailers discovering products that are just right for their customers.
As COVID struck and travel became a distant dream, brands and retailers tried to bring these relationships online. Even in a world (hopefully, soon) where COVID is history, it is clear that most brands will struggle to acquire new customers, and this gets even more complex when multinational companies have to build and maintain relationships with thousands of low-volume stores. Ditto for D2C brands that have a fantastic product 🏆 , amazing fan following 😍 but not enough resources, connections or capital to build a winning B2B channel.
While smaller, independent customers are more profitable for businesses on a margin basis, brands struggle with higher financial risks and resource requirements. On the other hand, retailers are aching to build a unique, curated product offering for their clients but the cost of travel, discovery and working capital towards orders from a new brand is too high a cost to bear on a regular basis.
This is the problem I set out to solve.
I found myself at Antler, an early-stage venture capital firm, exploring opportunities along with 80 other bright entrepreneurs. The founders were from various backgrounds, nationalities, career stages and aspirations. We worked together on multiple sprints and spent time tackling problems from various genres. Shared values, a common military background and a passion to build solutions to power thriving, sustainable businesses brought Katie and I together. We worked away on the problem-market fit and soon, we had the initial sketch of a set of solutions.
To validate demand, we spoke to quite a few stakeholders across the retail landscape — from buyers handling a portfolio of $4B to small boutique owners in Canberra keen to delight their customers through a relevant, differentiated assortment. After countless hours validating with potential customers, sound boarding with industry leaders and really honing in on what the key pain points were, we had defined the V.1 of our solution. Andisor is a SaaS enabled marketplace helping emerging lifestyle brands grow a large, fragmented channel of retailers by unlocking discovery and financial security. Sign up here for early access 🚪
At Andisor, we aim to digitise the wholesale journey and unlock ways for retailers to meaningfully collaborate with their suppliers. With this vision in mind, we charted out the offline experience and put together a wishlist 🗽 of features and benefits to drive growth, efficiency and profits. Our next stop was going to be user validation when Sydney and Melbourne went into lockdown. No more chatting about feature cards over a coffee in the store or cafe, so we found them online and asked them to rank our bucket list on a shared screen. The experience was enlightening, as buyers and SME owners walked us through their challenges, hopes and expectations. We zeroed down to the top 3 and hunkered down to build out the MVP. In parallel, we found our early believers — 19 brands ready to partner with us on our beta from all over the world! 🚀🚀 Eight weeks of brainstorming, power sprints, customer validation and fun conversations led to a powerful business plan and a live MVP.
My tips to thrive in the Antler program: Make friends, bring in a growth mindset, learn from the cohort’s background and interests. Explore, test, fail and iterate fast. Use the cohort as a sounding board — they are your strongest supporters and sharpest critics. Finally, enjoy the journey!
Connecting thriving, sustainable fashion businesses. We unlock ways for retailers to collaborate with their suppliers, harness the power of technology and build thriving, sustainable businesses.