60MM Roundup: Access to Markets
29 November 2013 - Claudia Goldblatt

Tuesday’s 60 Minute Menu was a fascinating introduction to the textiles and fashion industry with the focus on Access to Markets. Impact Hub member, Rupa Ganguli, founder of Clothing Connect, took us through her learnings from developing the organisation, which helps suppliers to develop their products and offerings and build relationships with suitable buyers from different markets globally.

We had a mixture of attendees, with some non-members (from working in startups and product development to studying entrepreneurship) as well as Impact Hub members (working in CRM, quantitative analysis and social enterprise), so the audience was varied and dynamic.

Rupa started by sharing her experience of starting Clothing Connect, after seeing a gap in what existed in the market. She noticed that SMEs working in the clothing and textile industry found it difficult to access and engage the international buyers that they needed to grow and sustain their businesses. They also had difficulty tailoring their offering to what the buyer actually wanted, for example a supplier in Tajikistan found it difficult to tailor their product to the Dutch market, as the average person there was much taller, so it was important for the supplier to have first-hand experience of the buyer’s market often visiting the country for first-hand knowledge.

Prompted by a question from the group, Rupa gave an in-depth explanation of how they structure their approach when helping SMEs to access markets. She explained the categories used to segment the buyers, namely, size of buyer – small, medium, large; price point/type of buyer – luxury, high street, mass market; and buyer specifications – ethical/ sustainable, certifications needed. There are also macro-level considerations, such as trade regulations (duties & tariffs) and the buyer’s logistical requirements. This framework was specific to the textile and fashion industry but is applicable to any industry where a business is trying to access new and existing markets.

Rupa left us with some fantastic take aways on how she started up by leveraging her existing contacts and relationships and starting with what you know and are already doing well. She also gave us some tips on how she used LinkedIn to build her business as a way to find details of relevant contacts at a potential client. Overall, it was a stimulating and relevant session giving great insight into how Rupa has used her experience and skills to add value to organisations that have difficulty creating their offering to better work within their specific market.

If you’re interested in contacting Rupa to find out more, please email her here.