It has been established that e-commerce is the way forward for most, if not all, companies with products to sell. In fact, our own place, VP Label Malaysia, is also released soon. It will include emerging products from own companies.
But despite all the many e-commerce sites Malaysians could choose from (as a merchant or customer), this mother still had the feeling that space was lacking: there was no adequate market for entrepreneurial children to sell their products. .
A personal experience caught his eye. Joanna, co-founder of FirstSeed, shared with Vulcan Post, “After my children successfully created the bath pumps, they could not find a suitable e-commerce platform for marketing. They created an Instagram page for their business, but they didn’t get many followers, not even on their Facebook page. They could only trust us, the parents, to share it with our network. “
A springboard for children’s ambitions
Shopee and Lazada are popular e-commerce sites for merchants and customers, but that meant they were too competitive and had strict terms and conditions, which made them unsuitable for Joanna’s entrepreneurs. Their children continue to attend online classes and additional classes, so they also need flexible time to produce the bath pumps.
“For entrepreneurs, this is their first entrepreneurial journey. There are many processes that must go through to prepare them before entering the “adult” market. For example, communication with buyers, delivery organization, payments, sales process, financial and marketing aspect, and so on. Joanna explained.
So it could be said that their intention behind starting FirstSeed was to be a stepping stone for entrepreneurs to discover their interests and help them move into more mature online markets in the future.
But that was not the only reason. Joanna’s son Keane, 13, came to her one day and told her he wanted to make money. His dream was to become a game developer and he had already had the pleasure of creating a simple game in school.
As she planned to seek an apprenticeship with game studios in the future, Joanna saw an opportunity to train her coding skills through FirstSeed. In two weeks and with the help of a mentor from a software company, she had coded the skeleton of the FirstSeed home page that Joanna hopes to maintain.
Although the deadline to launch FirstSeed was approaching, Joanna sought the help of a professional to complete the project.
Provide the necessary support to children’s entrepreneurs
Since its soft launch on August 1, 2021, 20 entrepreneurs between the ages of 5 and 17 have registered on the website as traders. Among the products they sell are sludge, bath pumps, bakery products, jewelry and more.
Although most of its traders are from the Klang Valley, there are also entrepreneurs from Penang, Johor and Sabah. Parents and guardians are encouraged to give their children the space and independence they need to explore, but they will still take care of all procedures where personal information is shared.
FirstSeed does not charge transaction fees, but charges a monthly fee of RM 39 for traders to list it on their platform. Entrepreneurs can access benefits such as featured posts on FirstSeed social media, personal and group mentoring sessions, weekly workshops with exclusive discounts, access to free resources such as tools and tips, and access to a private support group.
A common concern that customers would have especially with vendors handling food and beverages is quality control. Not all children would be aware of which PCOS they should follow in terms of quality control, safety and hygiene, nor their parents.
When asked how she plans to do this challenge, Joanna shared with Vulcan Post that she would partner with a KKM-accredited coach to provide entrepreneurs with training for food regulations in Malaysia.
At the same time, this is where FirstSeed services like Seed Mentor and Seed Workshop come in to provide qualified mentors and workshops for children. Currently, they are still in development, although they already have five coaches incorporated.
Child entrepreneurship is not as simple as you might think
As a place that tries to fuse children’s interests and entrepreneurship, Joanna shared that there were several challenges they still had to face.
For example, some parents prefer to fully manage transactional processes, which is fair if their children are very young. However, for children old enough to understand the basics and who just need guidance, Joanna feels that this slows down their business development.
If children only participate in the production process, they will only get a fraction of the whole experience. To add, those who rely on their parents ’devices to communicate with customers may respond slowly to inquiries and thus affect the sales rate.
These will likely be ongoing challenges for Joanna and the FirstSeed team, so they should keep an open channel of communication with parents to discuss possible solutions. This will help them adapt quickly whenever a new problem arises.
For now, FirstSeed will be testing with its first cohort of kids to make sure the site is easy to maneuver and use, so the team can plan new features to move forward.
Joanna’s current goal for FirstSeed is to get 1,000 entrepreneurs to appear on the market by December 2021. While it’s not impossible, it’s a very ambitious number. With 20 children on board, the team would have to recruit more than 200 entrepreneurs monthly to achieve this goal.
To do so, you will need to increase your marketing efforts, refine your processes, and make sure the site can handle the volume of entrepreneurs and customers that will follow.
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Abroad, children’s markets seem like a popular business model, although they focus more on bazaars and physical fairs. In Malaysia we have also seen similar events, albeit on a smaller scale and occurring less frequently.
FirstSeed is positioned slightly differently, as First is an e-commerce marketplace. Many of the skills that entrepreneurs will learn through the site are transferable when opening a physical store (either emerging or brick), but ultimately they are still two different experiences.
Perhaps when it’s safer to do so and when FirstSeed works on a larger scale, it could seek to house constant physical bazaars for entrepreneurs to experience what both worlds have to offer. This could help them even more in their future entrepreneurial journey when deciding on a business model.