Lessons learnt from trying - Part 8 / by Frankie Baeza

We were determined not to give up. Having set up the our design methodology, manufacturing partners abroad and having generated an organic loyal core audience. We wanted to find a way to take Finc.Apparel® to another market.

We both understood the importance of varsity sports for university students. The amount of performance sports covered by SportBU was 19 with some additional participation sports like American Football. In total there were 40 teams with an average amount of participants coming in at 3,500 which grew year on year. Every single year there would be freshers buying kit + students from other year groups replacing kit. This is continuous, predictable sales revenue, highly lucrative and scalable.

After some contact with members of staff at Bournemouth University, we were informed that the supply of varsity kit was actually going to procurement tender in January 2013. This was going to be a challenge for us as we had 6 weeks to produce a document pitching our ability to fulfil the high spec requirements given to us.

Having generated interest from friends and peers at university we put together a team that helped in the design, market research and finance aspects of the pitching. It was a costly process and we ended up spending all the capital we had generated from sales in 2012.

Our proposal was to join all the teams under one united brand, the BU Buffaloes:

Buffaloes

This was inspired of course by our American influence in design, and luckily we had been experimenting with varsity type apparel with our original business. Check out some designs we were planning on bringing out before our trouble with the lawyers:

We were hoping this Bournemouth Buffaloe idea would be the definitive reason why we would win the deal, which was worth roughly £60,000 a year in kit alone. Once we'd have taken on Bournemouth, I had already set up a list for all UK university point of contacts, to attempt to get as many kit deals as possible. We were dreaming big. Matt had done an immense job in designing a ton of different kits check out his work:

However it was not to be, we were given a mark of 44%. It was heart breaking, to not even have the opportunity to pitch to the university in front of a panel. We were not even shortlisted as a candidate. The main reasons for this were the fact we had no distribution centre, we marked 5% out of 30% on logistics. The e-commerce website which we had designed had a password to access it, and the decision board were unable to get in. This was a major cockup on our end, no one knew the website even existed, we shouldn't of had a password.

This was a painful moment for us both, having worked so hard, secured a preliminary investment (based on if we'd won the contract), recruiting volunteers, countless hours spent in a design suite at Bournemouth University. It was all over. There was no money left in the bank and the ship had started to sink.

Myself and Matt were now at a point where we had to part ways, it was done with great respect and manor. We compiled the correct documentation and he sold his share of the company to me for the amount he initially invested and some stock. Sadly it feels like it was also the end of our friendship, but one thing for sure it was one I'll remember forever. Matt is now a graduate design engineer at Dyson, hopefully our paths cross again sometime.

Kukri no longer have the Bournemouth university sports kit deal, it was recently awarded to a local company who have been making waves in the custom sportswear market Viper10.  It's great that the idea of bringing all the university teams under one brand has come to life, shame about the execution.

My journey with clothing had come to an end, I decided it was time to explore a different market. The RTD (Ready to Drink) drinks market, with some advice from mentors I was on the path to exploring how to launch my own soft drink company. This however will have to be covered some other time.