Pick your Battles – Why I’m leaving a Profitable Business

Knowing when to fight on or walk away…

 

So it’s official, I’m putting Vinspi on the backburner and turning my attention to chasing bigger dreams.

“What?!?!……Why?!?!?!…. you were going well, making some money. Why quit now?” …. you say… or at least that’s what most of my friends said.

For those who’ve followed my journey, you would know that since August last year I’ve been busy building Vinspi, an online retailer of custom tailored clothing for men.

Since launch in Dec 2011 we’ve celebrated some pretty significant milestones. Every month we’ve grown revenue , hitting the break even milestone back in June this year with some profits rolling in. We’ve built a small, but strong, group of loyal customers who’ve made multiple purchases and raved about the Vinspi experience.

On top of all that, Vinspi also got accepted into the AngelCube accelerator program. One of just 8 teams selected from across Australia, I was afforded the great opportunity of learning from insane entrepreneurs like Guy King, Ari Klinger, Leni Mayo, Mick Liubinskas .

So with things seemingly moving in the right direction, why put Vinspi on the backburner?

 

  • To grow Big we need Investment and Expertise

Fortunately for Vinspi, investment was never about money to pay a salary and keep surviving. Already turning a profit, Vinspi could have bootstrapped itself. Investment was about funding the next stage of growth to become a big business, a major menswear brand, the number 1 place for men to shop for suits, shirts and outerwear.

I’ve always felt that the only way Vinspi will grow big is if we implement a hybrid online and offline retail model. The vision was to acquire  customer measurements via physical locations (pop up stores) and then drive repeat purchases online, thus removing the friction point of customers measuring themselves.

This strategy however requires both capital and expertise from people who know the physical retail game (non-tech investors). After numerous negotiations and coming close to funding, we realised that valuation was always going to be a big sticking point for non-tech investors. We would need to go back, bootstrap and come back with bigger numbers before they would be interested in investing at a fair valuation, and by then competition could be miles ahead.

  • Competition is heating up fast

Competition is growing thick and fast. Indochino, Black Lapel and Institchu are just some of a very small handful of competitors gunning for the number 1 spot. While competition is normal there is very little differentiation between the various players. This means our market is a straight out land grab and whoever acquires customers fastest wins. Scaling customer acquisition would be slow without the right investors and I don’t want to be fighting this battle as a slow poke turtle.

  • Settling for a Small Business? No!

As a wise advisor said to me over coffee, “Over the next 3-4 years you’ll want to be pouring blood, sweat and tears into a startup, building it into something big that you’re passionate about. Are you sure Vinspi is that startup?”. My answer is no. While Vinspi is a nice idea, the reality is that it probably sits in the lifestyle/small business category for me.

After AngelCube I realised more and more than I’m not interested in building a small business. I’m passionate about building a business that solves problems for customers, changes their lives and scales into something big. I want to be able to look back on the businesses I’ve built and know that I took risks and never settled. For me to keep going with Vinspi would be to settle for building something small and safe. We all get to choose what battles to fight, I’m choosing a different one.

 

Some Thanks are in Order

I’ve always believed that the journey is as important as the destination and along the way I’ve had the privilege of spending time with some really awesome entrepreneurs. Each person has played varying roles in my journey but every one of them has been valuable. So a thank you goes out to Adrian Stone, Andrew Birt, Nathan SampimonNic Hodges, David Wei, Vuki Vujasinovic, Jono Weinstock, Scott Handsaker, Tim Stanford, Ned Dwyer, Guy King and Bevan Clark.

I also want to thank my AngelCube classmates who I count as trusted friends and seriously awesome people as well as Inspire9 which is seriously the best place to co-work in Melbourne! Finally, my gratitude goes out to  friends and family outside of startup world. You know who you are. I’m only as good as the people around me and all these individuals make me better!

 

What’s next?

Vinspi will continue on. It’s covering it’s own costs and will run as a side business. We’ve got some great customers and I love making their day!

As for my next adventure… I’m pleased to announce that I’m the new Founders Apprentice at Tweaky. I’ve known the founders Ned and PJ for a while now and  have quietly admired their product from afar. I have a huge respect for what their doing and it’s the perfect environment for me to stay in the startup scene, keep learning, work with people I respect and build products I’m passionate about!

Ned and I had a few coffees after I decided to leave Vinspi and we quickly recognised the great fit between where I was heading and what role Tweaky was looking to fill. To say I’m excited to be joining them over the next 6 months is an understatement and I’m looking forward to kicking some ass with these guys!

If you don’t know about Tweaky, I’ve put some links below to press coverage & the official announcement of me coming on board..

If you need tweaks made to your website try Tweaky out .. I’m not lying when I say that this product rocked when I used it for Vinspi!

Thanks for reading this extended post… till next time!

 

Tags: ,

About Ivan Lim

I'm passionate about entrepreneurship, people, education, communications and living purposefully. I've done a few things like founding Vinspi, a startup for Tailored Suits Online and I was ex marketing manager at OZHut. I now head up marketing at Tweaky.com. I'm usually, spending time with friends, reading or eating peanut butter. God, family, friends and making this life count are my priorities.
  • http://venuemob.com.au Dave Wei

    Look forward to the amazing things you’ll be endeavouring in the future. Well done mate.

  • Andy H

    Hey Ivan!

    Great to see Vinspi posting some neat profit :) . Will be shopping again when I need more suits & shirts. Even though it is on the back burner, are they are plans on expanding the current range or types of fabrics?

    Love the Tweaky concept! Can see it become very handy for small businesses who have websites.

    Andrew

  • Pingback: Tweaky Founders Apprentice: Ivan Lim | The Tweaky Blog