Having started Rocky Brands at a young age, Rishav Juglall shares common ground with the founders of Apple and Amazon in more ways than one. “I’m not ashamed to say that I started out of garage because Apple and Amazon started the same way, which makes it kind of cool,” says Rishav.
And, like all world-class startups Rocky Brands didn’t let its humble beginnings get in the way of large ambitions. The company which sells and manufactures an impressive range of high-quality cleaning products and household polishes began with its founder spotting a gap in the market.
“My mom got a new glass-top stove and sent me out to buy a cleaner for it. You had to buy a cleaner and sealer and they were sold for about R280 each, which meant you had to spend north of R500 to clean a glass-top stove, and I’m talking 11, 12 years ago,” says Rishav.
“I knew that these guys had no competition, so I went on to Amazon to do some research to find out what other brands were available internationally. Weiman popped up and their customer reviews were great, so I put together a marketing proposal and approached them via e-mail and told them we currently didn’t have anything to service the demand in South Africa – their range was cheaper, more marketable and had a better look and feel.”
Weiman knew nothing about the South African market but based on Rishav’s proposal and enthusiasm sent over a ¾ pallet of products for him to test the market. “Within the first month we had sold 70% of the stock that we put into the stores, which showed customer acceptance for the brand and that they liked the price point, and they definitely liked the packaging,” says Rishav. By 22 he had become the youngest supplier to Game.
“We built this product from scratch, it was never available in South Africa. We brought it in, perfected it, got it into retail locally and made a success out of it – all from a double garage. This speaks to our level of tenacity as entrepreneurs and a burning desire to succeed as a business.”
Part of the success was based on Rishav’s marketing decision to provide free samples of the product to people who purchased glass top stoves. “I took a page out of Finish dishwashing tablets’ book. When you buy a dishwasher they’ll give you two tablets to give you a taste of what a good cleaning product is all about. I took that marketing tool and applied it, so when you buy a stove you get a sample of a glass-top stove polish. Our customers now walk into store asking for that product because that’s what the stove came with and yeah it works really well.”
As Rocky Brand’s range of products grew (including its own manufactured goods) and the likes of Checkers, Leroy Merlin, Builders Warehouse, House & Home, Pick n Pay and others began to stock them, Rocky Brands needed a permanent home. In 2018, they joined Riversands I-Hub, where they
continued to grow from strength to strength.
“I first moved up to Johannesburg in 2013 and I was still finding my feet, travelling a lot back and forth to Durban and Cape Town, trying to build a business nationally. I decided I wanted to plant my flag in Johannesburg, and I needed a warehouse to do it.
“The nice thing about the incubation hub is it’s a holistic approach to business. You get access to marketing, access to a finance, if you need work done in terms of design, you name it. The problem with new business is you don’t know you need something until you have it and then you think ‘how
did I live without it?’, so we prospered under incubation.
When they needed new machinery to manufacture their products, Riversands was able to help Rocky Brands with an interest free loan and to secure interest for new product lines. Even now that Rocky Brands is about to broaden its horizons and leave the hub, Riversands has helped them to negotiate a good rate for their new premises.
Now, with 38 employees and contract to produce an in-house product range for Woolworths, Rocky Brands will be moving to a 3000 metres squared purpose built, off-grid manufacturing facility at the Riversands Outlet Park, based within the Riversands Commercial Park. “This is quite a big account for us,” says Rishav. “It took us about four years to sign so it’s been a long time in the making. [Aside from that] we’ve built a nice portfolio of products and in six to nine months, we hope to be ISO 9001 accredited,” says Rishav.
“I love what I do because I’m able to change the landscape of South Africa by putting good product on shelf and servicing a broader, let’s call it, 60 million citizens in the country, which means we’re probably able to change the lives of 10 or 15 million people.
“The nice thing is we have a bulletproof relationship with Riversands, and a good track record over three years. We will probably always need them for that helping hand. Riversands has been a pillar in our success,” concludes Rishav.
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