2020 Summer Catalyst Startup Profile: Leue Home
When Juan Leon Ramirez MBA’20, founder of Leue Home, first showed up at a warehouse fair, he knew he had to get in. So he bluffed his way in, saying he was a buyer, and started to make connections with brands. Shortly after, he used his savings to make his first import of housewares into his home country of Ecuador. It went well, so he ordered again and then again.
At a certain point, Juan realized that there were better ways of doing what he was doing. He thinks back: “I had to do this better. I had to improve myself.” His knowledge gaps were in finance and operations, so he decided it was time to learn more and to go to Babson for his MBA. His way of continuing to work on the business while at Babson was to set up an e-commerce website. Not to mention, e-commerce is an incredible opportunity in Ecuador. As Juan explains, the major e-commerce players like Amazon have not pursued expansion into Ecuador. So his competitors are mostly brick and mortar stores. Since customers are wanting to order online more than ever, especially in recent months, Leue Home is positioned well to take advantage of the market.
The challenge has been building trust with customers. Customers are understandably hesitant to trust a new site with credit card information. Juan’s approach has been twofold: He seeks to build trust through great user experiences, like a guaranteed 48 hour delivery time, and through marketing. He has started to build relationships with “micro-influencers,” like home organizers, and to create an ambassador program. He is also considering adding a new feature akin to Amazon Prime.
Instrumental to Juan’s progress to date and to his future goals is the team. His friend and business partner Sebastián Wiesner has incredible knowledge and deep experience with payment platforms. With Juan’s focus on product and Sebastián’s focus on payment, they are set up for success.
In Summer Catalyst, advisor Eric Braun has worked with Juan on making his next steps matter. Namely, Eric’s advice has encouraged Juan to focus on growing his portfolio of brands and increasing choices for Leue Home customers. Juan has done just that, and he credits the Hot Seat pitch sessions with helping him make it happen. While Hot Seat was “really tough,” he received feedback that made a difference. The Summer Catalyst cohort told him to focus more on numbers and facts. He took this insight to a meeting with a distributor just an hour later, focused on the finances, and landed Sony, Samsung, and KitchenAid products. He is in the process of launching KitchenAid products on the Leue Home website now.
Looking ahead, Juan’s goals are driving sales wihle improving operations and seeking efficiencies in his warehouses. At the end of the day, he knows what really matters to a successful e-commerce site and to delivering a great customer experience: “E-commerce is operations, not tech.”