Jan Portheine is the CEO of KarTent, a producer of 100% cardboard tents designed for short-term purpose. Each year, 1 out of 4 people leaves their tent behind at a festival, piling up huge amounts of unrecyclable garbage. Initially located in the Netherlands and in Belgium, KarTent now sells everywhere in Europe!
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. In early 2016, we only planned to develop in Netherlands and Belgium to focus on applying for a patent and enhancing our product as well as our sales model. But things never go as planned. We got picked by the global media and got lots of requests worldwide. We started to earn more revenue from exporting to other European countries than from selling in domestic market (Netherlands). Europe is well connected so we could work with one factory and export from there. Europe is well segmented. So choose your beachhead market wisely depending on your product. For instance: High transportation costs? Choose the Netherlands, a country with high population density. Expensive Product? Go to Sweden or Norway, countries with high income.
Scale up internationally
One last advice?
“I want to say that contracts and patents will get you very far but sometimes not far enough. Trust, at times, can be the key element to rapidly grow your business abroad.”