We caught up with Jordan Daykin, the young founder of GripIt, the world’s ultimate plasterboard fixings company, which now exports to over 32 countries around the world and has recently completed its second round of crowdfunding on Crowdcube. The company has grown 350% in revenue year on year for the last 3 years, with £3.95m revenue forecast for 2017. Still only 21, Jordan discusses future international growth and the company’s humble beginnings in a shed.
I have always been something of a serial entrepreneur, and was the youngest ever entrepreneur to gain investment on Dragons’ Den back in 2014. I think I have always had a business mind; as both my grandad and dad owned businesses and they inspired me to be the person I am today. When I was just 12 years old, I set up an online virtual gold business where I sold gold on a computer game, buying it in bulk and selling it on – and making a profit. Later the Chinese company I was buying from bought the company for £10,000.
I left school due to being bullied and was home schooled for a while. But I struggled to find tutors that would fit into my schedule and catered for my needs, so decided to create an online business for tutoring, called Tutor Magnet, where students and tutors could join and connect with each other to create an online schedule that suited their needs.
I first came across the idea for GripIt at the age of 13 with my grandad Stan who was 73 at the time. We were trying to fix a curtain pole onto a plasterboard wall, and after breaking several drill bits and trying all sorts of fixings that were on the market; we just couldn’t make it work. We finally went down to the garden shed to find a solution, and after spending several hours there, the GripIt prototype was created. After some research online, I realised that we had found a solution to a common problem that many people struggled with – fixing heavy items like TVs to plasterboards. I decided to take the product further, but grandad felt he was too old to get involved, so he wanted me to run with the idea and supported me in any way he could.
After several prototypes and testing, a patent was applied for and approved four years later. As soon as the patent was approved, we sent sample packs out to all big names and within 48 hours I had a response from Screwfix with a meeting in the bag. I then received the first order and before I knew it, the product was stocked in 500 stores across the UK.
But I wanted to take the product further so I applied for BBC2’s Dragons’ Den. The application was successful and in 2014 our pitch attracted interest from Deborah Meaden who invested £80,000 for a 25% stake in the business – I became the youngest entrepreneur to land investment in the Den at the age of 18.
Since then the business has gone from strength to strength. With a UK manufacturing facility, 40 staff and several bases across Wiltshire, GripIt products are now available to the trade and DIY markets in the UK, including Wickes, Screwfix, B&Q and Homebase, as well retail outlets in the other markets, such as Home Depot, Bunnings, Builders Warehouse, spanning the US, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
Last year the company featured on the Dragons’ Den Pitches to Riches follow-up show, profiled the growth of GripIt since the Den and our plans for the next couple of years. It was announced on the show that the company was worth £12,000,000.
The day after the show, we launched a crowdfunding campaign with leading platform, Crowdcube, to help fund a fully automated state of the art manufacturing facility to meet the ever-growing demand for the product and further expand the business. We raised over £2m in just 5 days and had great traction from it. Investment is critical to our growth and crowdfunding is a great opportunity for consumers, suppliers and the public to get involved in GripIt, helping the business to grow by investing their own money.
Following the success of the first campaign in 2016, earlier this year we launched a second crowdfunding campaign with Crowdcube, to help grow the product range, including the new TwistIt- Self Drive. We again raised over £2m, 139% over our target of £1,500,000. With nearly 2,000 investors becoming part of the company and joining the GripIt journey, the future is looking bright.
The long-term plan for the business is to add our own three new patented products to the range, along with an additional 60 products, which will all fall under the GripIt brand. This will enable us to widen our range in-store, increase brand awareness and grow market share. We are already in 5,000 stores across the UK, exporting to 32 countries worldwide, but within the next three years this is set to grow to 20,000 stores across the globe.
In the last three years, the company has grown 350% in revenue year on year, and has sold over 6.5 million fixings worldwide to date. Making certain assumptions of fixings per house, we estimate our potential market for fixings at c. 4 billion fixings per annum worldwide; our aim is to achieve a 2.7% market share in the 3 years.
Exporting will be key to our future growth and success and Brexit won’t be an issue for us. I know that a lot of European countries are happy to work with us because we are a British made product, we manufacture in Britain and we are happy to be British. We are happy to create strong agreements with countries that belong to the EU, as this is all about growing the strength of alliances with other companies and countries. With Britain leaving the EU it means we can become more independent as a nation and with brands like ours showcasing ‘Made in Britain’ it enhances us as an independent brand growing globally.
As well as an entrepreneur, I like to inspire others and show start-up companies and entrepreneurs that anything is possible and can be accomplished when they put their mind to it. I like to visit schools, colleges and universities, together with networking and business events. I also have my own website where I offer free business advice.
I am looking forward to the future and ongoing success of GripIt, seeing how far it can grow with the help and support of our customers, suppliers and investors. I feel this is going to get us where we I would like GripIt to be and become a household brand, being stocked in all DIY and trade stores.
Jordan’s advice on exporting into other markets:
- Make sure you research the market properly – and most important, ensure first of all that there is a need for your product there
- Spend time creating an exporting plan – this will help you to set out your goals and routes
- Looking into shipping costs, logistics and overseas taxes – this can become an administrative nightmare that is both time consuming and constantly changing, so stay on top of it
- For each market you plan to go into, you will need to adjust your marketing strategies and POS accordingly
- Be cautious when selling a product even if you have a patent here in the UK – make sure it is fully protected everywhere you want to export with a patent
- In order to test the water consider selling online overseas first – this will allow you to ‘dip your toe’ in first without fully committing and to figure where your market is
This may seem like common sense, but when thinking about exporting, make sure you know your product inside and out, know the strengths (and weaknesses) of it and, above all, believe in it. Believing in yourself is a key factor in every successful business.