Turbine’s third Test Drive was run in October 2019 and IKES won the first prize out of 15 participants and out of 115 applicants to the Test Drive Program. Incidentally, the company is also one of the 6 projects that has been selected for the Incubation Program at Turbine. Founder Ben Javed opens up to us about his motivation to start Ikes and his experience with Turbine.
Ben Javed is an IT engineer specialized in networking/ telecommunications/ videoconferencing and he started his career in 1999 at Blanche Birger and then joined Currimjee Informatics until 2007. He then proceeded to join La Sentinelle team in 2008 to handle the “Showbizz” business unit, all the while being the Commercial Director of Radio One . He left La Sentinelle in 2010 to start his own entrepreneurial journey with Event Creators, an event management company. Along with two business partners, he scaled up the company from three working staff members to 10 full time employees with an annual turnover of Rs 15M. Ben has been involved with Event Creators for the last 10 years as Sales/ Concept Director and has now decided that it is time for a change. He tried to make a move by turning a hobby into his latest business venture, IKES.
WHAT IS IKES?
IKES is a business venture with ecology as a priority. The business aims to transform used wooden pallets into trendy furniture and to make it available at an affordable price. The up scaled furniture is then delivered right at the doorstep of each customer.
The plan is to offer three services and products to different segments of the Mauritian market:
- Selling/ Renting of ready made furniture as per current trends – to hospitality & event industry.
- Ready to assemble pieces of furniture for DIY enthusiasts to indulge in their hobby at home.
- Workshops and a Makerspace for those DIY enthusiasts who would like to take their assembling skills to the next level through a space that provides all the tools and equipment for them to make more complex structures possible.
Ben answers a few questions for us:
What was your thought process when you saw the ad for the Test Drive?
When I saw the ad for Test Drive, I was in a research and development ( R&D) process to ascertain where and how to start the business venture. I was analyzing the market and gathering all information about the business requirements. Seeing the Test Drive program made me think it would be the perfect opportunity to go through that process in a structured manner. It was also an opportunity to get professional feedback on the strategic decisions I was looking to make.
How was your experience of participating in Test Drive?
I come from a scientific background and have never had any business learning experience except some themed workshops on specific subjects. Participating in Test Drive has been the best entrepreneurship training so far with a pragmatic approach to key business implications: Marketing/ Financials/ Strategic Planning/ Forecasting and creating an overall vision and while testing it at the same time! The business experts who delivered the Test Drive workshops were able to deliver valuable and actionable knowledge to the participants while the business coaches provided helpful information of what was expected from the participants. I found myself thinking about a wider view/ long term vision of the business this way. In an addition to this, the network and exchanges with that I had with other participants to the Test Drive Program helped me make more educated and well thought out assumptions about the various different aspects of the new business idea.
It was so interesting to meet so many people from so many different backgrounds working on such different projects and still being able to find real synergies with them.
What advice would you give to someone with a business idea?
Test Drive it before taking any step!