Anneka Chauhan, commercial director of i-stay
Miranda Dobson

Behind the business with i-stay

Anneka Chauhan is the commercial director of innovative business luggage manufacturer, i-stay. The business was born after Anneka had a “lightbulb moment“ back in 2012. Whilst running to catch a train, her laptop bag slid off her shoulder and went crashing to the ground.

After trying to find a bag with a non-slip strap, she realised there was a gap in the market for a functional, yet stylish range of non-slip bags, which is when she decided to establish i-stay. Bdaily spoke to Anneka to find out more:

What key challenges has your company recently faced?

Standing out in the market place has been a key challenge for i-stay because the market place has increased. We have several USPs though which continue to set our products apart from potential competitors and getting commendation from The College of Chiropractors has helped to boost our profile.

Obviously, surviving through a recession has been a challenge, but we were born during the economic downturn and haven’t let this hinder our success.

What is your biggest achievement over the past 12 months?

Our biggest achievement has been launching i-stay in an overcrowded laptop, carry case market and gaining an excellent response and customer following. To design a product that consumers need, which eliminates issues they face on their day to day travels is a great achievement and has personally given me a fantastic sense of satisfaction.

What is your most important focus for the coming year, and what do you hope to achieve?

In the coming year we will be concentrating our efforts on brand recognition and increasing the presence of i-stay in the marketplace. We hope to achieve this through getting more retailers and etailers on board as stockists, while expanding our distribution and customer base.

Ultimately, as we have something new to offer, we want people to know about our products and we understand that a focused marketing plan will help us achieve this. Our primary presence is currently in the UK market, however, we’re keen to quickly expand to other countries and increase our international profile.

What excites you most about your industry and business?

The honest answer is that the business luggage industry is historically quite a dry marketplace. However, we have used this to our advantage, since it provided us with a real opportunity to innovate, be creative and bring a product to market that stands out from the crowd.

We are continuously developing new product designs and there are several new exciting i-stay products launching in the coming months.

What do you wish you’d known when starting out?

I’m constantly learning and think every good entrepreneur recognises that business is a constant learning curve. There are a few things I wish I’d known when starting out though and that I’d happily pass on to aspiring entrepreneurs.

Firstly, great ideas and innovation will move your business forward. To have a strong brand helps consumers connect with your products. And also, there are simply not enough hours in the day, so it’s important to have a strong dedicated team of people around you! It’s ok to not be able to do everything.

What will the “next big thing“ be in your industry, and how do you plan to handle it?

We are launching a new innovation in conjunction with a large global company in 2014, so we hope that this will be the ‘next big thing’ in the industry.

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