Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Editor's note: From the typewriter to the propelling pencil to our favorite, the world wide web, inventors and innovators from the United Kingdom have brought us brilliant advances that have changed the way we work all around the world. During Global Entrepreneurship Week, we’ll promote entrepreneurship in the UK through a handful of stories from early-stage disrupters and trailblazers who are using Google Apps for Work to overcome the challenges of starting a new company and inspiring others to start businesses. Today, we hear from Rob Forkan, co-founder of Gandy's, a flip flop brand dedicated to helping orphans.
My brother Paul and I started Gandy’s with the idea that something as simple as a flip flop could be inspiring. In 2004, when Paul was 11 and I was 13, we lost our parents in the Indian Ocean tsunami while on a family trip in Sri Lanka. After returning to London and finishing our education, we wanted to find a way to honor our parents’ spirits while helping children less fortunate than ourselves. We decided to create a sustainable brand to give back to children in need.
Since 2011, we’ve sold more than a quarter of a million pairs of flip flops, online and in department stores, to people around the world. The proceeds have funded a children’s home in Sri Lanka, and we plan to keep building more as the Gandy’s movement grows. Inspiration goes a long way toward building a company, but we also needed the right technology. Google Apps for Work tools have helped us lower the barriers to entry in the following ways:
1. Starting a company around an idea rather than infrastructure
From day one, we faced the challenge of immersing ourselves in Gandy’s without worrying about IT issues. We started with an enthusiastic group of young people, many who worked part-time from home, and needed technology that matched our flexible style. Google Apps helped us get the team set up quickly, easily and cost-effectively. It took me five minutes to give the whole company their own accounts. Because everyone had used Google technology before in their personal lives, I didn’t have to train anyone, which allowed us to focus on the product. A year and a half ago, we bought Chromebooks for our team of seven so they could work from home, our kitchen table, a music festival, or wherever they happened to be.
2. Competing with established players by moving quickly
As we started selling our flip flops, we realized we faced competition from companies that had been in the business for decades. Our success depends on reacting quickly to trends and adapting to consumer desires. We use Apps to work more efficiently, whether that’s viewing one another’s calendars to set up meetings or using Google Drive to share a photo of artwork that could inspire a new flip flop design. We rely on the mobility of Gmail, Docs and Drive to share ideas as they strike, and keep on track of our work when we’re on the go.
3. Staying organized in the face of complexity
One of the first barriers we faced was breaking into both wholesale and online retail, two different markets with different processes. We started using Drive to keep track of our product designs, marketing materials and merchandising assets so we can stay united as a team. Shared folders organize everything product-related, which lets us work faster on design and ensure our final products look great. Our designers easily store and share inspiration artwork, product sketches and design files. Once the design is complete and the product manufactured, we share photos with retailers so they can see how the product will look on the floor as well as on a computer or mobile screen.
We face a different challenge every day, especially as we continue to set our sights higher. Hundreds of thousands of flip flops and cups of coffee later, we’ve proven to ourselves that we can overcome these challenges using the fast and flexible technology of Google Apps.
Click to expand the full infographic below.