Nelson company Tineli pedals global reach with business accelerator award

Ali Kimber,left, Sandy Vincent, Tim Vincent and Jono Kalma are part of the Tineli team that have just received a $35,000 ...
Martin De Ruyter/Stuff

Ali Kimber,left, Sandy Vincent, Tim Vincent and Jono Kalma are part of the Tineli team that have just received a $35,000 Business Accelerator Award.

From an unassuming Nelson residence, a Nelson cycle clothing company is taking their global business ambitions up a cog.

First-time entrants Tim and Sandy Vincent's international cycle clothing company Tineli has won the 2017 Business Accelerator competition, with the company's sights now firmly set on further international expansion.

The $35,000 prize package from the Business Accelerator partners includes access to pivotal services including accounting, regulatory processes, commercial management and marketing. 

Tineli will also have its own advisory 'board' for 12 months, comprised of the Business Accelerator partners. 

Primarily dealing in cycling apparel, Tineli's operation mainly revolved around bespoke orders for teams or businesses as well as its own seasonal clothing lines.

The Vincents founded Tineli in 2005 while mountainbike racing in Sandy's native Switzerland. Both knew how good cycling clothing could be, but were disappointed about the quality available down under. 

"We just saw the quality and the price was a lot lower that what I was used to paying, so we saw that as an opportunity we can't leave on the table."

Relocating to New Zealand, the company now has  a fulltime distributor and more than 100 NZ stockists from Kerikeri to Invercargill. 

As well as the Nelson-based team, Tineli also employed staff in three Australian cities, England and a distributor in the Netherlands.

While the company's name sounds straight out of Italy, Vincent said the origins are actually much closer to home. The Ti represents Tim, Nel for Nelson, while the i at the end simply adds a European flavour to it.

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Tineli's name adorned  team jerseys in the Tour of Southland, national road cycling teams teams in Australia and world champion adventure racing team Seagate. 

Thanks to their northern hemisphere reach, multiple Tour De France stage winner and British Olympian Mark Cavendish has also worn Tineli's clothing during his Rise Above charity rides throughout the UK.

"We actually replicated his signature inside the collar, just as a little touch - he draws a little bike on every signature, so that was something different," said Tineli designer Jono Kalma. 

Operating from the back room of the Vincent's family home, clocks displaying time zones in China, Australia, London are the only indication that this suburban setup is the world headquarters for Tineli clothing company.

"I still get called down here during dinner, because we are working with multiple time zones, but it's certainly very flexible in that I can be in front of the computer and solve a problem that's holding up production in 30 seconds."

Product design and development is done from Tineli's Nelson base or online before orders are sent to a factory in Guangzhou, China. 

Despite the distance, Vincent said he had built a solid trust with his Asian suppliers.

"We've been working with them for 10 years and they get it right – if anything is missing from their workstations or even if there's a zip left over on the table the whole thing grinds to a halt."

 Vincent said half the business operated from an online portal, which provided an accurate and reliable way to streamline the order process.

"All the designs go up on our website and we give [customers] a secret link to their order so they can share it as widely as they like."

"They can get their size, they can see their designs and we can send an email to them if they haven't ordered – so it really solves a very big problem for the team manager – they can see the orders coming in and who's ordered what."

Vincent said he entered the Business Accelerator competition to "surround ourselves with the support we need."

"I'd been to my accountant about 18 months previously and said we've got all these plans but we're not getting anywhere - he said we needed to change from a small business mindset to a medium to big business mindset."

"I must have seen something on Facebook, or a promo for [the competition] and I thought that's exactly what we need right now." 

With custom-built ordering technology and new international markets on the horizon, Vincent said the award package would go along way towards achieving their global growth goals. 

"It's $35,000 worth of services – if we were spending that money ourselves we'd expect to get double or triple that return in terms of revenue growth – because we're lucky enough to have won it I don't think we should set our sights any lower."

"The USA and Canada are the most obvious [markets to pursue] – we're going well in Australia but we're just new in the UK and struggling to get some traction, so we need to nail those and up our game first – all the web systems we're developing, there's a substantial investment in that as well."

Judge and Business Accelerator advisor Emma Thompson said due to the calibre of this year's five finalists, choosing the winner was not easy.

"All presented very well and have fantastic businesses – all with impressive growth potential," she said. 

 - Stuff

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