Part of the art of invention is knowing how to find those who need what you’ve invented.
When Mateja Treven and Marko Makarovič, founders of 'Karjola', the world’s first intuitive, electric wheelbarrow invented an innovative new gardening product that could alleviate the effort required to lift and steer a loaded wheelbarrow, they knew that finding smart ways to reach remote audiences in need of this niche product would be key to success.
‘’Our product was in need of innovative steps to face the steep goal of reaching other remote niche-audiences around the world,’’ Marko recalls.
With the help of Grow Slovenia with Google digital marketing courses for a suite of decisive tools such as Market Finder, Karjola’s founders were able to build a strategy to be discovered by their audience in need.
True to all that is Karjola, bringing together age-old mechanics and new technologies, the company is not your classic startup — but the union of collected local experience and the innovation of a younger team from across the country.
It all started out on a small orchard and meadow in the hilly Slovenian coastal region between the Adriatic and the Alps, where Mateja and Marko inherited the family home. Despite being located on steep hilly lands, the couple enjoy the work around the house, and farming their own fruits.
Farming on inclined land offers a list of advantages: from rich soils to natural irrigation, flood protection, optimal solar gain and an additional window of time before frosts set in from below. But one problem the couple and their neighbours face year round is the constant transportation of clearings, produce, nutrients, and tools up and down the difficult terrain.
Drawing on a vast background in industrial development and toolmaking, and lifting the brand’s name from the conversational word for wheelbarrow in Slovenian — one day Marko arrived upon a solution of his own; for where larger machinery or vehicle cold only wreak havoc on the ground or to itself, what if the mono-wheeled barrow could drive?
This year, following a long period of development, the product was finally ready to go. With over two and a half decades of experience working in finance, Mateja was the one to take the lead in driving the brand and product forward.
But of course designing a problem-solving product is never enough, if people don't know it exists. As a remote and rural startup, without the benefits of a high street presence, they suspected that they could benefit from the advice of digital marketing experts. ‘’Having such a niche product I knew that our customers would have to be global. But what I still wondered was, how would we reach them?’’ Mateja relays.
Fittingly enough, it was with the help of newfound digital skills and tools that Karjola was soon able to find its way out into the world. Cooperating with Spirit Slovenia, a public business development agency encouraging small to medium businesses in international growth, Mateja was introduced to the Grow Slovenia with Google workshops for beginners.
‘’I immediately signed up for three workshops and used the opportunity to talk to digital advisors. This was exactly what I needed at this point.”
In a matter of months Mateja was able to bring the online presence of Karjola to new and exciting levels.
‘’Firstly, during the Website Optimisation workshop I learned all about how to best improve our sales platform. For example, instead of only talking descriptively about Karjola, we refocused our messaging to describe all the problems our product is able to solve, and we created numerous CTA’s focused on purchases.
‘’Next, we learned to better track and analyse our website traffic with Google Analytics. With this information, we were able to simplify and streamline user experience for our customers online. After adding bounce rate as a measured metric, seeing engagement showed short visit patterns, we considered that with such a new concept product as ours, potential customers could be leaving our site to search for additional information. On the advice of our workshop’s digital marketing expert we created a news blog to include a wealth of information surrounding Karjola’s use and positive impacts right here on our website.
‘’I also decided to join the How to Sell Abroad workshop where I learnt that Google Trends and Market finder could directly address our biggest challenge at the time — how to be found globally? Our invention was ready, but how to find those who needed it?
‘’Already during this workshop we were surprised to learn with Market Finder that Ireland and France, which we hadn't previously considered, were flagged among the top three countries globally in consumer need. After talking with our digital advisor, Marko and I also turned to Google Trends and were able to scan for niche specific opportunities. We learnt that substantial search interest in Australia and the UK for the term ‘electric wheelbarrow’ existed, and that ‘electric tractor’, for example, displayed a very high search consistency in Romania, and also Ireland. Now we are planning to use Google Ads and YouTube video ads options to reach them.’’
Overlooking the magical hills and eating an apple from his orchard, Marko concludes: ‘’Soon we will be lightening burdens globally and hopefully we can turn our steep battle into steep growth. You must first believe in yourself, and then others will do too.‘’