- Understand your target market and what motivates your customers
- Be able to talk to your customers about how your products will benefit their business
- Network through courses, groups, mentors and customers
From corporate jungle to green living
Kiiva, founded by Manek Singh, is on a mission to transform our living and workspaces into greener and more breathable environments by integrating nature into our dense urban surroundings.
'I lived in the city. The view from my apartment was concrete and steel. I was an investment banker. I felt everything I did was taking from the world, not adding to it. I walked away from it all, travelled in some really remote regions of China, lived very simply, and the idea for Kiiva was born.'
After much research, I identified a real market opportunity in vertical gardens. Through our open source philosophy, I also found a way to lower the price point and simplify ongoing maintenance in comparison to existing products.' Specialising in vertical and roof gardens, Kiiva works with developers, architects, landscape architects and urban designers. 'I strongly believe in open sourcing, so a big part of the business is sharing our knowledge and expertise with businesses and community groups on how to cost effectively lower carbon footprint and Co2 emissions in urban environments.'
Kiiva also donates 30 percent of its profit to various organisations in the form of green walls and roofs in Melbourne, programs to find work and accommodation for homeless people, and for the rejuvenation of land destroyed by bio-fuel companies in the developing world.
Seeking help from experts
Manek knew he would need support to get the young business off the ground.
'Where Kiiva as a business struggled was in how to approach business owners and sell strategically to them whilst upholding our company's values.'
Some lateral thinking saw Manek and his investors identify the Sustainability: It's Just Good Business seminar, part of Small Business Victoria’s Small Business Workshops and Seminars program, hosted by the City of Yarra, as the ideal start point.
'There was a real focus on the dollar value to businesses of introducing sustainable practices. The seminar reaffirmed our thinking, enabled us to look objectively at our own business practices, and equipped us with a real understanding of what businesses want from sustainable initiatives.'
Selling your product benefits to your customers
Manek was now able to refine the Kiiva message, translating the installation of green walls and roof gardens into tangible commercial benefits for customers.
'Green walls are great insulators, reducing the need for air conditioning and heating in buildings. With time-of-use electricity tariffs being introduced for businesses, we were able to identify this as a real opportunity.'
'There are additional business benefits in terms of increased worker productivity from the sound insulation and overall mental health uplift generated by green walls. As a result of this seminar, we can not only talk the language of sustainability, but of business too.'
Manek consults to Melbourne's RMIT University, works on programs with the City of Melbourne to communicate the benefits of sustainable initiatives to the private sector and is marketing edible vertical wall gardens to restaurants, cafes and community groups.
'What we learnt from Sustainability: It's just good business has definitely helped us swing the decision our way with some recent sales. The seminar really worked for Kiiva, and is very effective at communicating the measurable benefits of green initiatives for small business.'