Jan Portheine is the CEO of KarTent. It is a 100% cardboard tent designed for festivals. Each year 1 out of 4 people leaves their tent behind at a festival. This causes huge amounts of garbage which can’t be recycled, this has an enormous impact on the environment. Initially located in the Netherlands and then in Belgium, KarTent now sells everywhere in Europe and elsewhere!
Want to set up abroad? Want to know more about the European market?
Get Jan‘s experience and tips for your international growth!
Isn’t nature beautiful?
The KarTent can be produced locally and for less CO2 than a normal tent. It can also be fully recycled afterwards. But sustainability doesn’t sell, so the tent has extra features. It can be printed with a sponsor logo to make it cheaper, it comes pre-pitched for festival campers so they don’t have to carry stuff and it stays dark and cool in the morning so you can sleep longer.
The beginning: Belgium and The Netherlands
We started in 2015 and only stayed in the Netherlands to pilot our product. Begin 2016 we only wanted to stay in Belgium and the Netherlands for a few reasons. Our product is not patented, we wanted to improve the product and our sales model. But things never go as planned. We got picked up by the global media and were getting lots of requests worldwide. We exported more tents in Europe than we sold in the Netherlands. Distances in Europe are easy so we could work with one factory and export from there. But now the festival season is at its end, right? No it’s not.
Tips for developing in Europe
Europe has very different segments. Choose your beachhead market wisely depending on your product. For instance:
High transportation costs? Choose the Netherlands! (very dense)
Expensive Product? Go to Sweden / Norway (high income)
And for your international growth?
|This winter we want to expand our business to Australia, South-Africa and Brazil, this because seasons are opposite, so our business is season round. We have taken on board a few partners in these countries who are setting up KarTent there. We took them into our trust and send over everything they needed to find a factory etc. If they start for themselves we cannot stop them because our product is not patented. This is a risk but we think it will speed up our business extremely. Also the local partners know their way around in their country better than we do. In South Africa the target market won’t be festivals for instance but sport events.|
One last advice?
I want to say that contracts and patents will get you very far but sometimes not far enough. Sometimes trust can be the key element to grow your business rapidly abroad.