Nature Pacific was founded in 2004 on the Gold Coast by Banaban Islander, Ken Sigrah and his Australian partner, Stacey King and was never established using a traditional business model structure.
E-commerce was still in its’ infancy and Stacey had already discovered the power of internet marketing back in the early 1990’s when she developed her first website to promote Ken’s small remote Island community that had been victims to one of the worse cases of environmental exploitation over the past century. Stacey recalls,
“I suppose I was lucky that my brother was a bit of a genius and built his first XT computer (commonly known as an [i] IBM Personal Computer originally designed for business users using DOS software). He ended up giving it to me in the late 1980’s and I didn’t have a clue how to use it let alone the DOS style of computer language required to work it. After many hours of teaching myself HTML coding and a pressing need to build a website to get the message of the Banabans out there to a global audience, my first website was launched on the Gold Coast in 1993.”
This experience of the power of the internet in those early years and the combination of technology, creativity and marketing soon became apparent. Stacey rapidly built an international network of people who shared her quest to assist an endangered and forgotten Pacific Island community. She was also fortunate to have the support of local Gold Coast start-up service provider, Ion Services and then the sponsorship of one of Australia’s most successful software entrepreneurs at the time, [ii] Steve Outtrim the founder and creator of Sausage Software out of Melbourne.
By the time Nature Pacific was established, Stacey was well aware of what the internet and technology could offer their newly formed company. In fact, the company used the merging Ebay e-commerce C2C trading site to sell their products and quickly build brand recognition not just in Australia but overseas. By 2008 they expanded to another merging world trading site called Alibaba.com which offered another step in the company’s expansion to a B2B trading platform. At this stage, there was still very limited export Australian online trade into China with Alibaba’s focus more on offering a very strong global present and search engine capability. Both sites offered extremely good algorithms for their product listings that soon started to appear in top page positions.
With brand awareness, the company came under increasing pressure to produce a separate retail range for the distribution and wholesale channels. This created an upside down marketing approach as Nature Pacific began supplying in volume to major independent supermarket and health chains. Over the years that followed Nature Pacific totally relied on ‘word of mouth’ advertising to build on the company’s signature – Banaban brand and getting the ‘story’ out to the general public. Soon there were demands to supply bulk food manufacturers and other major health brands with raw material sourced from their Fiji farm.
Today the demand for coconut oil in Australia is at a level that now sees it as the No.1 top seller throughout major supermarket chains with an ensuing price war and commoditization starting to affect the overall quality of the products found in the marketplace. Nature Pacific has resisted the pressure to enter this market and has preferred to stay loyal to the independents and work on their strength of product innovation and entering the health and medical research arena.
The company has spent the last three years duplicating their Australian success by building an overseas distribution network and was recently awarded the Top 102 International Pioneer by Alibaba, China. Over the years Nature Pacific has experienced the pressure of strong growth with funding pressures on the company to keep up with the demand. Fortunately, in the beginning, the e-commerce side of the business provided the much-needed cash flow to inject funds back into this rapid expansion. With a small family and island enterprise that was beginning to generate millions of dollars in sales, external funding had to be sought. An angel investor was their first experience in this field and proved an absolute blessing.
“We were so lucky to have the perfect person to back and invest in us. He was a retired local Gold Coast businessman who believed in our marketing strategy and our plans for expansion. He gave us one hundred percent support to do what we did well. The more money he invested in stock we quickly turned it into profits. After two years we were able to pay him back in full with high-interest rates. He stated that Nature Pacific had ended up being the best investment he ever made.”
Today Nature Pacific’s global network and customer base are impressive.
“We are excited to see what the future holds… and combining our business with the people we really care about. The people who want to see our brand and our Pacific communities expand further and prosper are so encouraging.”
[i] Wikipedia IBM_Personal_Computer - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_Personal_Computer