Stay, Swim, Shop

Stay, Swim, Shop


Idea 1

Safe surf’s up

South Africa has some of the best beaches in the world, but methods for keeping ocean goers safe from rare shark attacks are outdated, often ineffective and destructive. So two Aussie businessmen, backed by a university research project, have launched the first shark-repellent wetsuits.

Using patterns and colours, the Elude and Divert suits are said to make divers, bathers and surfers less attractive to sharks. The suits and surfboards are currently being tested in Australian and South African waters for effectiveness, and results are promising.

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Our Expert Says

The shark-repellent wetsuit is an innovative product. Proof of concept will be a primary determinant and it appears as if testing for effectiveness is still underway. Assuming that it does solve a significant problem, or meet a significant want or need, for which someone is willing to pay a premium, it has the potential to be a profitable business.

The size of the market is also important, and the wetsuit and surfboard sticker are aimed at surfers specifically, which globally number about 23 million. Applying the ’technology‘ used in the product, the potential also exists for diversifying into the general bather, boogie-boarder and snorkelling markets.

Idea 2

Mobile fashion boutique


Smak Parlour is Philadelphia’s first fashion truck that takes fashion on the road. Kitted out with a generator for lights and aircon, they’ve renovated a used box truck into a chic boutique and eliminated the problem of finding a store, committing to a lease, and being tied to one spot.

The concept provides customers with a mobile shopping experience and keeps costs low while bringing the brand to new audiences. Smak Parlour gets the word out using social media to inform its loyal fans where it will be parked for the day.

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Our Expert Says

The principles of mobility and flexibility are appealing, but one cannot negate the competitiveness of the fashion industry. The extensive presence of fashion retailers in shopping malls and online fashion stores mean that this concept will at most have a flea market type application and be suitable for a lifestyle entrepreneur. Superior businesses have robust market, margin, and moneymaking characteristics.

Even considering travelling to rural areas to sell second-hand clothing on location, one should factor in the high fuel costs and the maintenance of the vehicle. That said, the mobile concept might be applied in other franchised opportunities such as gourmet coffee and supermarket consumables in remote locations.

Idea 3

Pop up hotel


Pop up restaurants, cafés and shops are a hot trend in cosmopolitan cities around the world, so it was only a matter of time before a pop up hotel showed up. Situated on the shores of Knokke-Heist in Belgium, Tender2 is a one-bedroomed luxury pop up container hotel.

It offers stunning beach views, a personal butler, Michelin-starred cuisine, a Jacuzzi and a sauna. Nightly rates start at $1 500 per person per night. Cheaper (but still luxurious) pop up container hotels exist in Antwerp for between $200 and $270 per night.

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Our Expert Says

The pop-up hotel concept is indicative of what is possible when the need for accommodation collides with the novel application of shipping containers. The use of containers for purposes other than shipping products is not new but refurbishing them for hotel-type accommodation is, especially when adding a touch of luxury.

Substantially reducing the cost of brick and mortar construction, the concept lends itself to wide application for accommodation purposes in South African tourism.  The robust construction, designed to withstand harsh conditions is a great substitute for conventional building, and when embellished creatively and with luxury and taste, could result in a unique, upmarket ’hotel room‘ experience at interesting and exotic locations such as game reserves, mountainous settings and beach fronts.

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Tracy Lee Nicol
Tracy-Lee Nicol is an experienced business writer and magazine editor. She was awarded a Masters degree with distinction from Rhodes university in 2010, and in the time since has honed her business acumen and writing skills profiling some of South Africa's most successful entrepreneurs, CEOs, franchisees and franchisors.Find her on Google+.