It’s been almost 12 months since digital marketing expert and entrepreneur Ahmad Elhawli launched his e-commerce platform, Sportsfinda.
Sportsfinda is a one-stop-shop for sporting equipment. It provides an e-commerce platform for Australian SMEs to sell their products.
At the age of 19, Mr Elhawli tried to market his business, but like thousands of other entrepreneurs he found it challenging to get noticed by industry leaders.
“We had a great reputable sporting product that we wanted to put on the market but after experiencing rejection after rejection when approaching retailers with our product there was the realisation that many of the relationships that had been forged at the upper echelons of this industry would make it difficult, if not impossible, to crack into the leading industry retailers,” he said.
“Ours is a story of levelling the playing field in the sport and fitness arena. Giving those that can’t crack the mainstream market, an arena in which to put their product out there. A home-grown, grassroots organisation that was adamant on giving all businesses a fair go.”
The idea for Sportsfinda came one afternoon when Mr Elhawli’s mother was trying to buy netball equipment online and found that she was switching between websites in search of the best deal possible.
“This is when the name Sportsfinda was born – a one-stop-shop for all sporting equipment on one easy to navigate platform,” he said.
Since founding Sportsfinda in March 2018, the site has signed on 30 Australian brands.
However despite the website’s success over the past 12 months, Mr Elhawli’s biggest challenge has been building confidence and trust needed for SMEs to feel confident selling their products on Sportsfinda.
“We strive to solve these issues by signing up a couple of new businesses every week and prove our worth to them,” he said.
“I started the business with the vision to level the playing field for grassroots Australian companies, helping them gain traction to grow past the start-up phase onto the next level without the burden of huge expenses required,” he said.
“Unlike other major sporting e-commerce and bricks and mortar businesses, our main goal is to make Australian grassroots a priority.
“We don’t charge our vendors to sign up and sell products on Sportsfinda, instead we help business owners cut out the middle-man retailer and head straight to the consumer, reaching their target audience in the most cost-effective manner.”
In the next 10 years, Mr Elhawli aims to empower local sporting businesses and develop strategic partnerships to compete against the larger sporting brands and attract millions of local consumers.
“We hope to have developed the ultimate platform that unites local sports and fitness SMEs within the community,” he said.
“We initially had a three-year target to sign up 500 brands, so hopefully by 2029 we will have nearly 2,000 on our platform.”
Mr Elhawli’s top tip for other startups is to ensure customer service is their first priority.
“It’s vital to put your customers first as they are the heart and soul of any business. Without customers there is no way that a brand can grow.”