A Q&A with Minitrade.ca founder Isabelle Doucet. The Montreal–based company was founded in April of this year and launched its service to its first market—Canada—earlier this month.
SUB: Please describe Minitrade.ca, and the value proposition you offer to parents.
Doucet: Kids grow so quickly. Minitrade.ca is a service that helps parents take control of the clutter that kids clothing generates and helps them keep their kids outfitted in great looking clothes that fit. You can now buy and exchange kids clothing from the comfort of your home in three simple steps. Parents register on minitrade.ca and order a free bag that will be delivered to their location for free. They fill up the bag with gently used kids clothing and send it back to Minitrade, free of charge. Parents can then collect store credits from their kids clothing and shop for bigger sizes on minitrade.ca.
SUB: Who are your target users?
Doucet: Families with kids who have outgrown their clothing.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Doucet: Although they are quite different than the Minitrade model, the closest competitors would be consignment shops or online shopping and the Craigslists, Kijijis and eBays of the world.
SUB: What differentiates Minitrade.ca from the competition?
Doucet: Minitrade.ca is unique because it offers parents a complete solution for selling and getting updated clothing for their kids from home. The service includes getting rid of undersized clothing and replacing it with bigger sizes all on one site.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?
Doucet: The company was founded in April 2012. With the concept based on online shopping and door-to-door pickup and delivery, we looked for simple ways to handle the transport end of things so we could provide free pickups. Then we needed clothing inventory to offer to our first customers. So we spread the word among friends and family and we received a lot of support to get us started with a nice amount of clothing to put up on the site. We also searched on classifieds and went to garage sales to add more to our initial inventory before our launch.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Minitrade.ca? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Doucet: As a mother of two I have accumulated a lot of kids clothing. Being surrounded by all of this clothing and waiting for the next friend or family member to have a baby, I started thinking: how can I get rid of all these boxes of clothes? I couldn’t put every item up for sale on classifieds because it was too time consuming. So one night, with my husband, we started looking on the Internet to see what was out there to help us. We found some groups on Facebook for clothing exchanges and people posting on classifieds, so I thought we could start a blog and create a section with a baby clothing exchange. My husband, being a successful tech entrepreneur, suggested we create a business around this model and Minitrade was born.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story behind it?
Doucet: We wanted something that describes what we do, and is fun and cute, because it’s for kids. We also needed the name to be easy to understand both in English and French because we wanted it to serve the bilingual Canadian market.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Doucet: Some of the biggest challenges include building a platform that could handle credits and shipping, setting up a new model for shipping goods, and managing each piece of clothing as single SKU took a lot of programming and organization.
SUB: You just had your official public launch. Why was this a particularly good time to launch?
Doucet: Back-to-school is an excellent time for launching a service that helps parents outfit their kids and save money.
SUB: Have you raised outside funding?
Doucet: We have selected high profile Angel investors strategically to help us grow and improve the different aspects of the company.
SUB: What are your goals for Minitrade.ca over the next year or so?
Doucet: We are focused on delivering top quality customer service and an efficient operational system to offer the best possible service to our customers so that our brand spreads with the help of referrals and testimonials. When that has been achieved, and when we are ready, we will expand and open our concept to bigger markets including adult clothing, toys, etc. We will also consider expansion to Europe.
Mintrade.ca – www.minitrade.ca