When most of us are frustrated in our jobs, we’ll vent to a friend or family member and move on.
When Giovanni Pino and Ellie Vaisman were frustrated in theirs, they started their own company and made $43 million.
Their company, Sourci, acts as an advocate for Australian entrepreneurs when dealing with Chinese manufacturers, and it’s something close to home for Pino, who previously owned a printing business.
Pino would use Alibaba to track down parts from overseas manufacturers, but felt the experience didn’t resonate with him.
“I had an okay experience, and I've tried to use the platform a few more times but it really just didn’t resonate with me how there was no transparency when it came to finding overseas manufacturers, it was like you're just hoping that it went well,” he said.
“Even at the best of times where you think you're doing your due diligence and you’re speaking to this person who works within the factory, there's this feeling within where you're unsure if you're dealing with the right person.”
And so Sourci was born: “We sat back and thought about what it would look like if you could have the most transparent experience when dealing with an overseas manufacturer, where you knew who you were working with, where you knew the company was legitimate,” Pino said.
“And if it felt like you were dealing with someone here locally in Australia, but you were still getting the benefits of the cheaper material costs, you were still able to work directly with the manufacturers, you were still able to coordinate your freight and have this seamless experience.”
Sourci advocates on behalf of the client, and represents entrepreneurs at all times.
“They still know who the manufacturer is, and they can communicate with them at any point, but we are there to ensure nothing goes wrong and walk them through the entire process.”
The business has 25 full-time staff in offices in China and India, with team members boasting three to four years of sourcing experience.
“We’ve got legitimate feet on the ground, and they’re picking up the phone, running legal searches on the factories, checking export licences,” Pino said.
From $0 to $43 million in 3 years
It’s clear Pino and Vaisman weren’t the only two struggling with overseas manufacturers, given the uptake in Sourci’s services in the last three years.
The pair recorded $43 million in total revenue this year, but say the growth has largely come in the last six to 12 months.
“The growth has come quite rapidly, through just being able to nail marketing and communicating well with our clients,” Pino said.
And while coronavirus saw some decline in activity for Sourci, the pandemic presented the boys with a major growth opportunity.
“Certainly at the beginning things slowed down and contracted,” Vaisman said.
“But it became apparent very quickly that eCommerce was something that was about to explode, and we had a lot of really astute business people and startups come to us after that."
And it just so happened the government needed $30 million of personal protective equipment (PPE).
“We were able to procure and supply some really high-grade PPE equipment to the government here and overseas indirectly, and that helped us grow quite a bit,” Pino said.
Finding the gap
Friends from high school, but admittedly not close, Pino and Vaisman each had their own individual ventures before coming together for Sourci - Pino had started his printing business, and Vaisman was a successful real estate agent.
“I really saw that there was a huge gap here between great Australian entrepreneurs, who are great innovators with great ideas, having these concepts but having difficulty connecting with the right supplies,” Vaisman said.
“We just got in contact when this idea came about, and got our heads together for around a year to figure out the process.”
And while the friends don’t speak a word of Mandarin, finding the right people led to a lot of open doors.
“It was really two white guys trying to figure out how to start a business in China,” Pino said.
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