When gadgetry specialist Lee Ranchod founded technology company Dog & Bone Cases in 2012, he looked for a niche in the market that his company could fill – and found one in waterproof cases for smart phones.
The start-up produced the world’s first direct touch waterproof mobile case. It then went on to creating keyless smart padlocks that could be operated by Bluetooth. Their range went from heavy-duty padlocks for sheds or gates, to lighter padlocks for school lockers, and ones designed for travellers to use on suitcases or backpacks.
“We now export to 86 countries, including countries in Europe and Australia, Canada, and the US,” Lee says.
Testing and collaborating
Lee says that Dog & Bone Cases always had its eye on the lucrative US market, but were fortunate enough to test their products in Australia first.
“We’ve discovered that what works in the Australian market works in the US – and vice versa,” Lee says.
They were less successful with cases in the European market, who were after slimmer, more fashionable designs. However, by the time they entered Europe, Dog & Bone Cases were moving into the padlock market, which resonated well with the UK market.
The company’s next move is into the audio space. They’ve just completed their intellectual property (IP) patents and proof of concepts for customisable audio headphones.
“Our headphones can be heated so they mould and fit perfectly into the user’s ears,” he says. “We’re now talking with two major companies. We think it makes more sense to produce our earphones through these bigger multinationals than by ourselves.”
To help break into overseas markets, Dog & Bone Cases invested time and effort into building relationships with other businesses.
Says Lee: “At Las Vegas trade shows, I’d chat to CEOs or product development teams from like-minded companies, looking at where we could create synergies and build relationships. It all comes down to your approach – everyone wants to make money, work with good people and get into market quicker by leveraging other’s strengths.”
Meeting the funding challenge
One of Dog & Bone Cases’ big breaks was scoring a A$800,000 deal with a large US wholesaler. For the deal to go through, the high-growth business needed $250,000 so they could pay their suppliers while they were waiting for payment from their client.
“As a high-growth business, our balance sheet doesn’t look fantastic, so our bank couldn’t help us – but they told us about Export Finance Australia,” Lee explains. “We met with the team at Export Finance Australia and they provided us with the funding we needed to push that deal through. They were fantastic – it went through really smoothly.”
We were able to provide Dog & Bone Cases with a $250,000 Export Contract Loan to help with the delivery of their large export order.