Undies straight from a Bryndwr bedroom

MEETING DEMAND: Andrew Need, left, and Lochlan Read in Christchurch with business parter Ben Bonifant, who video-chats from Wellington.
MEETING DEMAND: Andrew Need, left, and Lochlan Read in Christchurch with business parter Ben Bonifant, who video-chats from Wellington.

It's been said that some of the best ideas have their genesis in the dawn's early light. Which bodes well for The Supply Drop, an innovative online ordering system that ensures a constant supply of undies, socks and shaving gear for the man in your life.

"A flatmate stumbled out of the bedroom early one morning wishing there was someone who could drop him off some new undies," says Ben Bonifant, a Massey University design student.

Bonifant looked at fellow flatmate, Andrew Needs, and they both realised they were looking at the beginnings of a business idea: a start-stop man subscription service for socks, undies and shaving gear.

"Basically it's man essentials made easy," Bonifant says.

"A guy - or his girlfriend, wife, mother, aunt, grandmother - goes online picks what he needs, places the first order through the website, we ship it to him, and then in three months time we send a reminder and the process repeats itself."

If you're in the grandmother category, don't be daunted. Bonifant showed me a text from his 76-year old grandmother who had just used the website to order for her son, Bonifant's uncle.

"I found the website really useful and easy to use which is saying something for an oldie like me," the text read.

"She's pretty onto it for a gran," he smiles.

And like all good Kiwi innovation stories this fledging business where all three men are juggling fulltime jobs with an entrepreneurial life, is growing from home.

Business partner Lochlan Read's Bryndwr bedroom is doing double duty as both stockroom and distribution centre. It's his job to pack up the orders and send them out, but as Bonifant says, "hopefully not for much longer".

"Our next step, as the business grows, is to automate the distribution process as much as possible."

Making everything as simple as possible is one of the guiding philosophies of The Supply Drop.

"Basically you pick your favourite gear, create an account and relax while we ship it," Bonifant says.

The next delivery is automatic unless you visit your account dashboard to add, remove or change items, "You might decide that you want thick winter socks instead of thin summer ones, or running socks, or hit the snooze button if you aren't ready for a fresh load of supplies".

They've gone for basic Fruit of the Loom, Jockey, Bonds and Montys underwear and cotton Jockey and Holeproof socks. And mostly in black. "No fancy-pants colouring or exotic logos here," Read says.

The guys have done their research as well.

"Our surveys show that 92 per cent of guys are wearing socks and undies more than three years old," Needs says.

"When everything's hanging out, that's a dire situation to be in."

How do things get so bad?

"Its just one of those things for a guy that is so low down on his priority list that unless your girlfriend breaks up with you because of it or your undies disintegrate while you are wearing them, you don't think about it."

The research also found that, not surprisingly, "the majority of women feel it's not their responsibility to buy their men underwear", Bonifant says.

The issue with my socks, says Needs, is that they mostly arrived as Christmas gifts and after a year's wear and flatmates "borrowing" from his sock drawer, he had to hunt to find a matching pair.

Needs and Read studied engineering at the University of Canterbury.

Needs then met Bonifant when he moved to Wellington and they were in the same flat. When Needs returned to Christchurch, he put the online shop idea to Read.

After "a few Skype calls" the three were all on the same page.

The trio have funded the business themselves and used their individual talents to create the website (thesupplydrop.co.nz), develop a marketing strategy, and set up a Facebook page and Twitter account. It's taken about a year from the initial idea to being in business.

"We only have one goal - to help guys who are totally useless with their underwear maintenance."

The Press