Startup Profile: FBC Worldwide
FBC was co-founded by Nathan Yap, Farid Aliji (friend from college), and Imtiaz Khanji (Farid’s cousin)
About the company:
We import a variety of food food products from Southeast Asia into the US. Additionally, we will all be leaving in April for the Philippines to work on a copper project, exporting raw copper ore to China. A mining project was what we initially came together to form a company for, but the recession and resulting commodities dive pretty much killed our margins and made it unfeasible to continue. The food project was a side project that we randomly took on after mining went under. It has since grown to where we are importing 2 containers (40 tons worth of food products – soy sauces, vinegars, dried fruit) a month and supplying 450 stores in the US. Sales for this year are on track to break the $1M mark in revenue.
Our business is just basic international trade; we don’t limit ourselves to a certain product line, market, or country. If there’s an exciting opportunity to pursue in a random country, we go for it.
What makes FBC unique?
Traditionally, the import/export industry is a very aged industry, so we are very unique in the sense that we’re straight out of college. Our ages range from 22-24, so you can imagine the reactions we tend to get when almost all the people we meet with are over 50. To get over that hurdle, we try to have a respected contact that can vouch for us to make the initial introductions when possible. Other than that, I try dive straight into technical discussions (logistics, letters of credit and other international financing methods, customs regulations etc) to show to them that we know what we’re doing. Then again, there have been plenty of times that we have gone in over our heads knowing absolutely nothing about an industry! For the most part, we’ve just learned by trial and error, and have come out ok.
Future plans for FBC?
There are a lot of opportunities for international trade because there are so many barriers to entry. You need to build a solid base of contacts, get through a lot of beaurocratic red tape (FDA, export restrictions, customs laws, etc), and find out a lot of things on your own. The import/export industry by its nature is very secretive (people don’t want to share suppliers, buyers, best practices etc), so its not as easy as doing a Google search. Our future plans are to work on and expand the mining project, as well as start an outsourcing/virtual assistant company (based in the Philippines) for small business owners.
What was your start-up budget?
$60,000 (funded by family) for the intial order of inventory and FDA consulting fees. We’ve been fortunate to be able to roll the sales from that initial order of inventory to where we have not had to put any other cash in.
How can people contact FBC? Twitter, facebook, email etc…
Our general e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org will forward e-mails to all 3 of us. I’ve just started to use Twitter (@nathanyap), but I’m very bad at updating.