Starting a successful business from your college dorm? Yes, it is possible - and even easy, with help from Alibaba.com. Read on to meet four young entrepreneurs who turned their brilliant ideas into successful businesses.
Petite friends Susie Levitt and Katie Shea loved the extra inches their high heels gave them, but they didn't love traipsing around New York City in the shoes. So the college buddies invented CitySlips, foldable ballets flats that fit in your purse so you can switch out your heels for walking.
The partners knew they wanted to manufacture the product overseas, so they turned to Alibaba.com to find a source. "Alibaba has great pricing," says Levitt, and the partners loved being able to access tons of manufacturers.”
"We could do it right from our dorm room - we didn't have to fly to China to start our company," says Shea, who adds that Alibaba has probably saved them at least $10,000 in travel costs alone.
The wide variety of suppliers at Alibaba enables CitySlips to constantly add new materials, styles and products to their line. It's that type of constant reinvention that appeals to distributors such as Macy's.com, Dillard’s and Neiman Marcus. Now, the three-year-old company is diversifying into foldable flip-flops and rain boots. Wherever their path takes them, one thing is sure: They’ll keep using Alibaba as they go.
The Abingdon Co.
Abingdon Chelsea Welch is the founder and CEO of The Abingdon Co., which sells high-quality aviation watches designed especially for women. Welch got the idea in 2006 when she began taking flying lessons. She admired her instructors' amazing watches, which had tons of flying-related functions, but nobody made that type of watch for women.
Undaunted, the 23-year-old decided to make the kind of watches she wanted, and began searching for a supplier on Alibaba. "Had it not been for Alibaba, I would never have met my supplier," says Welch, who has worked with Spearmark Company Ltd. for seven years. "I love the work we do together, and wouldn’t want to work with anyone else."
Today, The Abingdon Co. is flying high, and Welch isn't ready to stop yet. "[Young entrepreneurs] have the world at our fingertips," says this ambitious entrepreneur. "If you have an idea, go for it - why not? What’s stopping you?"
Innovative Watersports is the home of the Fluzzle tube, a line of nontoxic water toys and interlocking floating devices made without phthalates so they're safe for the whole family. Manufacturing the innovative product presented a challenge, but CEO and cofounder Eduardo de Arkos was able to solve it by turning to Alibaba.
"We chose Alibaba because it’s so easy for us to connect with a supplier," says de Arkos. "Using the tools Alibaba has, we were easily able to identify the suppliers that we wanted to work with." De Arkos connected with China Machinery & Engineering Co Hubei Ltd., and has since built a strong, trusting relationship. "The first time I went to China I was only 21 and I was nervous," he admits. "But I had Skyped with my supplier prior to coming, and that really helped.
"We have been very lucky w/our supplier," continues de Arkos. "They are willing to go the extra step to accommodate us. That alone has made our business so easy."
Choosing suppliers who participate in Alibaba's Trade Assurance program makes sourcing products easier and safer than ever. Learn more about Trade Assurance.