Not all successful journeys follow the same path. But they often begin in the same place; an entrepreneur with a good idea looking for funding to turn their dream into reality.
That part of the process is easier for some. If you can look to friends or family for a relatively admin-free cash injection, you’re in an extremely fortunate minority. Access to funding is a major speed bump for most business owners, who have to navigate tricky territory to get their vision on the road.
Jean Botha started Ultimate Bike eight years ago, at the age of just 17. Having grown up on two wheels, he knew his path to success would involve bikes from a very young age.
Like many entrepreneurs, an idea struck him when he encountered a problem that seemed unnecessarily hard to solve. The classic ‘there must be a better solution than this’ moment.
“I was in an accident when I was 16. I took the bike to the nearest shop and got a quote on repairs. Parts were so expensive that insurance wrote the bike off, but it was still perfectly rideable. I decided to look into aftermarket parts to repair the motorcycle myself. Turns out that you can find certain items at a much lower price than what suppliers had quoted.”
The seed was planted. Jean began importing items from China and reselling them to people that had also been involved in accidents. The project started small; as a teenager without access to funds, Jean founded Ultimate Bike with R2000.
“I shipped two or three items from China, sold them, then bought four or five items. So things built up that way. That was the ongoing battle for the first five years. To arrive at the point of ordering large quantities and get better prices from suppliers… It’s been such a challenge.”
Challenges exist to be conquered, of course. And capital-related challenges were just the start. For Ultimate Bike to succeed, Jean also had to overcome the inherent sense of distrust in the secondhand automotive industry.
“Building a good reputation takes time. When a problem comes to light, you have to make sacrifices and always put the client first. Another big issue is finding reliable and decent suppliers, that supply you with quality goods and that the public also see as affordable.”
As Jean gained knowledge and experience, he got better at anticipating future customers’ needs. With that came a sharper eye for spotting opportunities in the market to accelerate business growth. However, despite Ultimate Bike having survived its infancy and becoming an established small business, cash flow remained a problem.
“I saw an opportunity to sell a certain product, but my capital was already maxed out in every category of my business. Parts, bikes, the workshop, accessories and so on. I didn’t have money available to buy the new items and start stocking them.”
Yoco Capital has been a springboard for Ultimate Bike. Having gained invaluable experience fighting tooth and nail for every inch, Jean honed his money management skills through trial and error on an ever-increasing scale. Armed with extra funds from his Capital advance and the knowledge of how best to use it, Jean invested wisely and bought a bulk order of stock from China.
“It took my shop to the next level in sales, for sure. The new range of items is my top seller, providing the shop’s biggest turnover three months in a row. Sales are up, so I’m able to invest in the shop. Foot traffic is up as well, with people looking for other items they might be interested in.”
It’s a totally different landscape to the one Jean experienced when starting Ultimate Bike. As a teenage entrepreneur too young for a credit record, nobody was willing to help him. Despite now being eligible to approach the traditional institutions in search of funding, Jean isn’t even thinking about that.
“I’d definitely use Yoco Capital again. It’s painless and effortless. Basically after three clicks it’s done and the money’s in my account the next day. Flexible repayment terms that suit the needs and turnover of my business. They didn’t even ask me for bank statements or proof of residence!”
What Jean has achieved is seriously impressive. It’s difficult to believe that he’s still only 25. The vision and hunger that saw him build his business from scratch remains integral to everything he does. And in typically entrepreneurial fashion, he’s not done yet.
He’s planning to open another store within the next year, as well as move the current store to a new location with more floor space. Make no mistake, this man was always going to be successful. Thanks to Yoco Capital, his trajectory is on an even sharper upward curve. Armed with funds to grow Ultimate Bike, Jean is behind the handlebars of one of Johannesburg’s most impressive small businesses.
You can get in touch with Jean or find out more about Ultimate Bike on their website.