Trayde: Armen Karapetyan
Trayde is an online marketplace helping artisan brands and independent retailers to connect
Name of founder: Armen Karapetyan
Location: London, United Kingdom
Date launched: June 2020
Number of employees: 3
Age of founder: 29
What university, if any, did you attend? Imperial College Business School
If you’re an artisan brand hoping to be stocked in an independent shop, it can be an expensive and costly process to exhibit at a trade show. Trayde, an online wholesale marketplace founded by Armen Karapetyan, is aiming to change that – read on to discover how…
Tell us what your business does:
Trayde is an online wholesale marketplace that connects independent retailers with unique, artisan brands.
We enable independent shops around the UK to easily discover and order unique products for their stores – all in a single platform. For brands, we operate as a virtual, 24/7 trade show, helping them to get more wholesale orders.
Where did the idea of your business come from?
I realised that there was a real problem for small, independent brands to find and reach out to retailers after several of my friends, who started their own fashion and jewellery brands, were struggling to get onto retail shelves.
How did you know there was a market for it?
After doing market research and speaking to several small brand owners I realised there was a real problem that could be solved via technology.
I have developed a simple MVP (minimum viable product) and tested with a number of brand owners. The prototype really resonated with them and I received great feedback, which proved there was a market for the platform.
More recently, Covid-19 forced most of the trade shows to be cancelled, which further exposed the lack of alternative distribution options, especially for independent businesses.
What were you doing before starting up?
I have worked in strategy and technology consulting for 7+ years, at DXC Technology and Accenture.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Yes, my family comes from an entrepreneurial background, so I was interested in entrepreneurship from a young age. However, my career in consulting really equipped me with valuable skills that I apply to the business daily.
How did you raise the money?
I have funded the business myself from savings.
There is a potential for a VC investment or alternative financing options (crowdfunding, revenue-based finance, and others) that I would consider in the near future to accelerate business growth.
Describe your business model and how you make money.
We have a very simple, commission-based business model (similar to many consumer marketplaces nowadays).
Our marketplace is free for retail buyers. For brands, we charge a small commission fee whenever the brand receives an order via our platform from a new retail buyer.
Unlike trade shows, which traditionally charge a fixed fee for the space at the show, our business model is success-based: if we do not bring an order to the brand, we never charge them a penny.
This is particularly relevant for new startup brands that often cannot afford to pay thousands of pounds for a stand at a trade show (in addition to all the cost and time required for preparation and travel).
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
The biggest challenge, as with any marketplace, was managing the growth of both sides of the marketplace (supply and demand) at the same time.
In addition, it has been challenging to balance the team efforts between growing the marketplace and supporting existing members of the platform to make them successful.
What was your first big breakthrough?
The first breakthrough was when a multi-award winning homewares brand applied to join our marketplace and asked to onboard her entire catalogue of 800+ stock keeping units.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Believe in yourself and in your business. There will be many challenges along the way, as well as many people that will discourage you from pursuing your idea. I believe that focus and determination can make or break an early-stage business.
Another tip is to really get comfortable with selling (or get a co-founder who is). As an entrepreneur, you are constantly selling and communicating the value of your business: to customers, to prospective employees, to partners; to the press.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
In five years’ time I want Trayde to be the go-to technology and supply chain partner for the UK's independent retailers and brands, and help the UK high street experience a renaissance.
I fully believe that shopping local, sustainable products made by other independent makers is the way forward, and I want Trayde to be the driving force behind the amazing maker community.
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