Entrepreneurial ideas often pop up when a problem presents itself. That was clearly the case for Katherine Hague, who printed some T-shirts to promote her consulting company, Ninja Parade, and discovered there wasn’t a quick, easy and professional way to sell them.
Ms. Hague didn’t want to launch an e-commerce store, so a service such as Shopify was overkill. Instead, she was looking for a way to sell a single product using a service that didn’t have many frills but worked better than simply a classified ad.
The answer was ShopLocket, an online service that lets people sell their products by providing a few details and uploading photographs.
It’s also a low-cost solution – ShopLocket charges a $2 publishing fee when someone makes his or her first sale, followed by a 2.5-per-cent ongoing transaction fee.
The 21-year-old Ms.Hague said that creating ShopLocket, which launched officially last week, has been a huge learning experience. Perhaps the biggest lesson, she said, is making sure to have a strong knowledge of your potential customers and their needs.
“Basically, until you launch, you are operating in a vacuum,” she said. “Once you are out there, your core focus is whether you are addressing their problems or how you address better.”
While Ms. Hague is not a software developer, she provided herself with an edge when it came to creating a startup by spending the past couple of years learning some basic coding languages and attending developer meetings to establish relationships in the community.
“When it came to hiring a team and making high-level decisions, I was comfortable doing that,” she said. “I have friends who are interested in startups but they don’t know development, so getting off the ground for them is difficult.”
In addition to being a young entrepreneur, Ms. Hague is also part of a relatively small group of women startup entrepreneurs in the Web sector. Despite being the only woman in the room at many events, she said it is not something she thinks about until someone points it out.
“If being different is as a way to stand out, it can be in your favour,” she said. “I don’t know if [the lack of female entrepreneurs]is necessarily something that is a problem we have to address to the point where we need find women who wouldn’t be entrepreneurs, and make them entrepreneurs. Instead, we need to cultivate people, and get them interested in becoming entrepreneurs.”
Ms. Hague, who co-founded ShopLocket with Andrew Louis, said the biggest focus for the company, which has attracted about 1,200 users, is continually improving the product and getting more people.
The goal, she said, is getting people to look at ShopLocket to sell products in the same way “people look at YouTube for posting videos” – a statement that comes across as youthful enthusiasm and entrepreneurial optimism.
Special to The Globe and Mail
Mark Evans is the principal with ME Consulting, a communications and marketing strategic consultancy that works with startups and fast-growing companies to create compelling and effective messaging to drive their sales and marketing activities. Mark has worked with four startups – Blanketware, b5Media, PlanetEye and Sysomos. He was a technology reporter for more than a decade with The Globe and Mail, Bloomberg News and the Financial Post. Mark is also one of the co-organizers of the mesh, meshmarketing and meshwest conferences.
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