Table of contents
- Founder - Matt Niutta
- Sunshine Coast, Australia
- Started in 2018
- 1 founder, 2 employees
- Turnover - $55K per month
Matt, what's your backstory?
I grew up here on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland and had no original intention of starting a business after school. I studied a Bachelor of Spatial Science (Surveying) and have worked as a Surveyor for the past 10 years. Myself and business partner Mat both still work full time outside of Fractel, so finding time to grow the brand is challenging.
Tell us what your company does?
Fractel exists because:
a) As a runner living in South East Queensland, I struggled to find a quality cap that was the perfect blend of performance and style. We wanted to create a product that we felt could be worn both casually or during your run.
b) I was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa in 2011 and am going blind / have not driven since. My mode of transport is running, and I wanted to create products that represented the reasons. 'whywerun'.
How did you come up with the idea?
Fractel was started to create a community of like-minded followers and advocates worldwide who share a passion for running and adventure.
I've always been a passionate runner. It wasn't until I was diagnosed with my eye condition that I realised the real benefit of being outdoors and commuting on foot.
With a greater appreciation for the small things in life, running became more than just beating the clock. Finish lines are great, but it was the process shared with your mates that became the motivation to get up and run day in day out.
With plenty of time to think on the daily commute to work, it became evident that there was a need to represent both performance and style within the running and adventure community.
Fractel originated from the term 'fractal'. A fractal can be defined as an infinite pattern and often describes natural features such as trees, rivers, and mountains.
This connection with the natural environment and the potential to be infinitely occurring was the inspiration behind the name. Our logo is the simplest version of a fractal. Starting from a single origin, two branches grow. This principle of endless iterations can be applied to all aspects of life. We want to replicate this theory and show the world that with one idea, anything is possible.
How did you go about building and launching the business?
The idea came about because we couldn't easily access a product we felt we and many other runners/adventurers would benefit from.
We had nearly 12 months of R&D to find suppliers, create designs/prototypes, and make the first steps to get started.
How have you grown the business?
Our growth has been purely organic. On day 1, we ordered 100 black and 100 white hats, which took over 3 months to sell before we could consider investing in new designs.
We introduced two new colours later that year and have continued that method over the past 3 years to be where we are. Thanks to the support of locals and now our community abroad, we're stocked in over 50 retailers worldwide with local shipping out of Aus, USA, EU and UK.
75% of our marketing is done through Facebook and Instagram. Building a community online through Instagram was critical. As runners ourselves, we felt we could strongly relate to our audience, avoid 'selling' 247 and delve deeper into why we run to connect.
What’s your biggest selling product?
Right now, our best selling product is the new Bucket Hat. We've just launched these, and heading into Spring / Summer in Australia, these will undoubtedly be a staple for many who appreciate the extra shade in style.
What have been some of your biggest failures along the way?
Throwing ourselves in headfirst when something isn't always 'perfect' was a hard way to learn (and still is).
In the beginning, not everything was as polished as it is now, from products, social media images, and communication.
What books have been a great inspiration to you as a founder?
Shoe dog by Phil Knight. It was fascinating to read how a company the size of Nike grew from day 1 and had many relatable small business hurdles to overcome.
What quotes do you live by?
"Trust the process."
"Patience is key."
What do you do to look after your mental health as a founder?
To look after my mental health, I have to keep mobile. I try and get 3-4 runs in a week to clear the head. Some solo, some with mates. It all helps unwind and disconnect.
In a few words what does it mean to be the founder of a business?
The buck stops with me. At the end of the day, it's my responsibility to keep the business ticking over, maintain our connection with the community and stay positive through the ups and downs.
It also means you never stop thinking about it / struggle to switch off, which I'm always trying to improve on.
What are the biggest pieces of advice you’d give to other founders?
"Hang in there. It's a grind, but I wouldn't have it any other way. If it's your passion, it honestly shouldn't feel like work."
Where can people find out more about your business?
Australia / Rest of world: www.fractel.com.au