ZoS Merchandise Limited
ZoS Merchandise Ltd is a gaming memorabilia company specialising in Nintendo's video game Legend of Zelda merchandise. We started in 2013, selling the musical instrument played in the game, the ocarina. Over the past two years, we have expanded our consumer and product base substantially.
We now sell worldwide on several e-commerce platforms such as Amazon and Etsy, as well as our own website zos.co. Furthermore, we have created a variety of product ranges. Our jewellery collection includes cufflinks, tie clips and necklaces. In clothing we have hoodies and t-shirts, and under ocarinas we have many variants ranging from ceramic to wooden instruments.
All of our products are personally designed and made from the highest quality materials. Our company is very much customer-orientated, being very active on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to name a few. We have received many positive reviews from customers and experts within the industry, motivating us to always improve and deliver.
What made you decide to start your own business?
During the course of my first year at university, I was struggling financially due to the lack of student finance. I decided that the only way I could avoid having to drop out of university was through taking the initiative to create my own company.
Thanks to the help from Newcastle University's Rise Up Entrepreneurship Programme, I was able to meet great people who advised me on how to pursue my own start-up. Through participating and ultimately winning the FLUX competition, I gained some experience in creating a start-up and was motivated to find a product to sell.
Coincidentally, I remembered buying my little brother an ocarina a couple of years prior to starting the business and soon realised there were much better quality products available. Legend of Zelda was a game that I grew up playing and I knew the scale of its popularity and the potential the market has.
Upon deciding that this was an idea I wanted to pursue, I realised that a business partner was required that could help with the financial aspect of the business. Arjun Jairath, my business partner had the finances, account and design experience that would be valuable to the company, and wanted to start a venture himself. He put forward the initial investment needed to start, and the rest is history.
Tell us about your journey so far
Over the past two years or so of running the business, we've had both setbacks and breakthroughs, facing many challenges on the way.
Initially, we had to find a way in which we could compete with other suppliers by creating our own unique selling point (USP). We added to the ocarina, making it a whole package by adding a songbook, cleaning cloth, drawstring bag and necklaces. We even made a customised box for the items to fit nicely in that also advertises our company logo, in order to create a brand loyalty.
Our next challenge was to expand our consumer base. We started by selling on Ebay, but eventually decided to try selling on various amazon marketplaces such as Amazon.co.uk. Amazon.de and Amazon.fr. This expanded our company exposure and increased our sales significantly.
We then went on to design new products such as cufflinks and necklaces, which eventually became some of our best selling items. Since then, we have gone the extra mile by selling on Etsy, creating our own website and having over 100 products sold worldwide.
We have become much more active on social media, allowing our fans to inspire new products and ideas that can take the company even further. We now have over 20,000 followers across our social media campaigns. The interactions have made our experience within the company much more enjoyable, through the support of fellow fans and encouragement to continue what we are doing. Our current revenue stands at £200,000 which is a significant increase to the figures we had 18 months ago.
What impact have you achieved to date?
So far, we have been able to become a leading Legend of Zelda merchandising company, with a brand loyalty due to our high-quality goods that appeal to fellow fans of the game.
With over 8,000 sales in over 50 countries, we have been able to make an impact on many fans around the world and hope to continue to do so. As a business, we have been able to keep our prices competitive, whilst maintaining sustainable profit margins that allow us to continuously expand.
We have become best sellers for ocarinas, cufflinks and necklaces on Amazon in various countries, and are the largest UK-based merchandise company selling on Etsy. I believe that the ability to have achieved this alongside our degrees is both difficult and impressive.
Our future aspirations are to expand our product range into other fan bases and trends, in order to become a leading merchandising company around the world.
What is your key tip for setting up a business?
I think something that has allowed us to be successful is choosing something that you are passionate and know about. Both of us are gaming fans, and therefore we know how to engage with and appeal to the consumers.
I also think that being at university is the best place to start a business. You have the support and resources to do so, and you don't have the pressure of a 9-5 job.
The support that the Careers Service and Rise Up gives has been invaluable, but I would like to emphasize it will be the people you meet and friends you make during university that will provide you with the greatest support. Other than that, I would recommend taking your time, researching properly the risks at hand and then going all out when you decide to move forward.
Kane graduated from BSc Computer Science, in 2014.
Business start up date: 20 November 2013