Stefan Gehrig founded King Kong Apparel in August 2011.
Before leaping into eCommerce, Stefan was a scientist. But entrepreneurship was never too far from his mind. As a regular at his local CrossFit gym, Stefan noticed that very few people were using products from household brand names like Nike and adidas. "It was a bit of a counter-culture at the time," he recalls. That's where the idea for a CrossFit brand was planted.
Following a hectic period completing his science studies, Stefan had some time to reflect on what he wanted to do. After reading Tim Ferriss' Four Hour Work Week and taking stock of the opportunities he'd spotted at his CrossFit gym, Stefan decided to try his hand at eCommerce.
King Kong Apparel was born.
For the first five years, it was a side project. Then Stefan hit an inflection point. He had an opportunity to further his career in science and take a fellowship in the US or go full-time on his business. "Sales were really strong and growing, so I decided to go full steam into King Kong," says Stefan.
Now, King Kong Apparel is a thriving eCommerce business, with a few full-time employees and legions of passionate fans that help the business grow.
No matter how quickly you're scaling, there's one problem that all eCommerce businesses run into — access to working capital.
"We just didn't have the working capital to be able to buy the inventory we needed," says Stefan. "Especially since our business is a bit seasonal — the November/Black Friday and December period is probably 40% of our sales. We just needed more stock than we had cash for."
That's where Stefan looked to revenue-based financing to help. "It's a weight off my mind. It makes running the business a lot more stress-free," he says.
"It's a weight off my mind. It makes running the business a lot more stress-free."
By having good relationships with suppliers and staying on top of working capital cycles, King Kong Apparel Apparel can quickly deliver its products to customers. "It's better for operations because otherwise, we'd have preorders with much longer wait times, and customers wouldn't be able to get their product as fast."
Delighting customers with fast, reliable delivery is vital for Stefan and King Kong Apparel because the business grows mainly through organic channels and word-of-mouth referrals. So forcing customers to wait longer wasn't an option.
Before working with Wayflyer, Stefan had taken outside funding from other finance providers. But despite multiple funding rounds, he was keen to test a new provider and build a long-term relationship to help his business thrive.
"There's something about Wayflyer that piqued my interest," he recalls. "Someone from Wayflyer reached out to me, and I was open to chatting." From the moment he first spoke to our team, Stefan was excited about working together to help King Kong Apparel reach new heights. "It was a far more personal experience," he notes. "I've spoken to Nicholas Manthorpe and Brian Renvoize quite a few times."
And when it came down to the numbers, Stefan felt Wayflyer was a partner he could trust. "There was a lot more customization on the offers and efforts made to understand the business. The personal touch was really important," he notes.
Stefan has also connected with Wayflyer's Insights team, who are on hand to help customers analyze and optimize their marketing and drive more sales. "I had a session with the team on Facebook ads, and we've already implemented several of the suggestions," he says.
The fact that both King Kong Apparel and Wayflyer are focused on the same outcomes is huge for Stefan. "It's the first time I've talked to someone in the advertising space where the incentives are aligned," he says.
"It's the first time I've talked to someone in the advertising space where the incentives are aligned."
"Normally, agencies and partners are trying to push up ad spend so that they can get a better percentage and make more money. Whereas Wayflyer, we both want it to be successful because we're in it together."
In 2021, King Kong Apparel increased its revenues by around 10% year on year. But already, 2022 is starting to look like it'll be King Kong Apparel's best yet.
"Revenue is up around 35% year-on-year, and if that continues, we'll be happy — we'll never stop pushing for more, though."
"Revenue is up around 35% year-on-year, and if that continues, we'll be happy — we'll never stop pushing for more, though," he notes.
From a scientist and CrossFit athlete to an eCommerce entrepreneur, it's been an incredible journey for Stefan and King Kong Apparel over the past decade. And the future looks even brighter.