Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with Shervin Mossammaparast from online retailer Avancer.
In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.
We create beautiful and functional kitchen appliances and homewares and we sell them at competitive prices through our online store. We are a customer-focused business and we create product that customers tell us they are looking for. We love getting their feedback on key product features and use various forums to elicit conversations.
We manufacture our products in the best factories in the world and use parts from the best suppliers. We handle stock at a local level and use human resources from around the world who have the expertise and understanding to make the model successful. Keeping our overheads low, we have been able to create a competitive new business and brand in Australia.
What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?
Avancer has been self-funded the entire way. Starting out with my own savings, I have grown the business slowly and steadily over the last three years.
Most of our growth has been organic, resulting from word of mouth and repeat customers. Our investment in advertising is minimal and if we do advertise, we do it on a tight ROI to measure exactly which source is providing us revenue.
What's the biggest challenge facing your business?
Being a new brand of kitchen appliance without the ability for consumers to touch, feel and compare to similar models in a bricks and mortar store has its drawbacks. We've overcome this by offering a seven day money back guarantee on all purchases and our website provides live chat so customers can have their questions answered straight away. Once customers try our products they know they have bought quality.
How do your differentiate your business from your competitors?
Our key strategy and point of difference in the market is our focus on customer service. Happy customers lead to referrals and repeat business, which has helped our business build momentum. We are in the business of making products for customers so we get their feedback wherever we can on product choice, design and features. Avancer employs Customer Happiness Gurus that focus on delivering a positive service experience to our customers. With a guiding philosophy of 'let deeds not words be your adorning,' Avancer strives to deliver more with each and every customer interaction.
What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?
I love Chrome and am totally loyal to it because everything I do is in the cloud and can be accessed through Chrome.
What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?
There's a saying that goes something like: "A happy customer tells a friend; an unhappy customer tells the world." And these days with the help of social media this has become truer than ever. We don't take any customer for granted and we listen to everything that people have to say about our products and our brand.
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