IKES started its journey at Turbine after participating in Turbine’s Test Drive 3 Programme. IKES founded by Ben Javed, is now part of Turbine’s newly launched Acceleration Programme. Ben shared what his entrepreneurial venture is about.

What is IKES about?

IKES is a recycling activity where professional woodworkers transform used wooden pallets into quality furniture delivered at our customers’ doorstep.

IKES can manufacture any furniture (tables, chairs, sofas, beds, cupboards…) from recycled pallets with multiple finishing options & accessories desired by the customers (paint, varnish, ceruse, wheels…). In addition to classic furniture, IKES also provides DIY kits, ready to be assembled. These kits are pre-cut and polished recycled pallets for our customers to a DIY specific item.

What are your achievements so far?

Incorporated in September 2019, IKES started in November 2019 and, throughout 2020, delivered more than 150 projects (with multiple furniture per project). Among our achievements, IKES hosted an expo in July 2020 showcasing our range of products. In October 2020, IKES launched its first DIY kit and also participated in multiple expos at the end of 2020 to promote the same.

From a business perspective, IKES exceeded the sales forecasted in 2020 by 15%, even though the workshop stopped operations during the lockdown period (April – June 2020). We also moved the workshop from a 40m2 space to a 400m2, operational since Jan 2021.

How did Turbine help you in your growth?

Being incubated at Turbine, IKES benefited from business coaches’ expertise and support to shape the business model and provide the project’s methodological management. The incubation of IKES at La Turbine is also an excellent opportunity to share with incubates the business’s challenges and create an ecosystem where sharing of ideas/solutions can benefit each of our projects.

What are some challenges you came across?

The main challenge faced by IKES since operations started is the unplanned lockdown period (April – June 2020), where the workshop stopped production and demand decreased considerably due to financial uncertainty faced by customers. Our team took that time to consolidate our back-office structure for better customer support and came up with a reviewed range of products that would best fit after lockdown. This move proved very successful when orders were secured just after lockdown and production to deliver our customers resumed. On another note, finding a proper workspace was a real challenge, not many available to host an industrial production or those available out of budget. Nevertheless, this was managed with hunting on multiple axes to find the best fit as of date.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

Based on experience with IKES and incubation at La Turbine, I would advise all aspiring entrepreneurs to, first of all, believe in their project but at the same time to get advice from business experts to ensure its viability and sustainability over time.

What are your plans for the next three years?

In the coming three years, IKES will be coming up with more DIY kits while developing strategic partnerships with distributors in Mauritius and the Indian Ocean region. In the five years, we aim to be present in Africa to position IKES as the number one provider of DIY Kits made from recycled pallets in the African continent.

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