GEW Profile: Gavin Kennedy Of ‘The Hub’

November 19, 2014

10 years ago Gavin Kennedy ‘accidentally’ started a business. It seems his entrepreneurial drive was always there, waiting to be triggered by circumstance.

Looking for a unique and cool birthday gift for his pre-teen nephew, Gavin turned a small problem into a big opportunity. He wanted to buy a USB flash drive in the shape of a ninja warrior but was told he could only buy them in bulk.

Small problem: Minimum order was 50 flash drives and he only needed one.

Big opportunity: Gift the one and sell the other 49!

The Bermuda market snapped them up – unique flash drives became so popular he ordered more and started a business with the same name – Unique Flash Drives.

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10 years on and the part-time hobby business has gone from selling $25 gadgets from the back of a car under the Rubber Tree in Warwick, to a near million dollar business called The Hub. It has expanded to cell phone retail, accessories, unlocking and repair, with 3 young Bermudians who Gavin has hired and trained.

“I have really good people working with me; I trust them and I’m very fortunate.
My only advice to others would be to treat staff with respect and show them you love and appreciate them. It means a lot to them, they’re loyal and a part of the family. I buy them lunch on busy days and we have a mutual respect for each other”.

So what drives this entrepreneur?

“There will often be setbacks but you can’t let that stop you. I mean if I let myself get disheartened I’d not be where I am today. As recently as Hurricane Gonzalo someone tried breaking into the shop when the electricity was out and the alarm system was down, so now I’m beefing up non-electric security – it’s all extra money, time and effort. That could put a person off but I put it down to the joy of doing business – it’s not always as easy as it looks.”

“When things go wrong or it gets bad for me, I think; tomorrow I won’t be broken into, tomorrow it’ll get better; it keeps me going through any difficult times.”

“I learn by my mistakes and I’ve made many, many, mistakes. You have to be willing to accept them. The biggest mistake you can make is letting the mistake stop you. If you have the desire, the passion and you want to do it, then do it. You’re only a failure if you don’t try. If you don’t try, you’ll never know.”

Running a retail business for himself Gavin now understands and appreciates why we don’t get the variety in Bermuda that we do overseas, because as the store-owner you just can’t order everything, it won’t all sell.

Being an entrepreneur is challenging and its fun. How does he keep it fun?

I find it fun because it’s satisfying when I help a customer and guide them to a phone that’s right for them. Sometimes I’ll even refer a customer to another retailer if I don’t have what they want. I’d rather lose a sale and gain a customer for life, than to lose a customer just to gain a sale. We know most of our customers by name.“

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A serial entrepreneur, Gavin sees opportunity and a win-win at every corner. He offers short-term rental of his spare office space to other start-ups, giving them a leg up within an affordable professional environment. Some of the small vendors he’s helped include jewellers, local fashion start-ups and a candle business that did so well from their modest beginnings with Gavin, that they’ve now opened their own retail presence.

“I have space for 12 vendors at The Hub. People who think they can’t afford to open their own business because of expensive overheads such as rent, can maybe take another look at their dream this way”, said the businessman.

“I believe it’s physically impossible for one person to do it all when setting up a business, to sign a lease, stock the shop, set it up, run marketing to attract customers, it’s physically and financially draining. That’s why a shared space works, you feel there is support there, while working on different businesses, you’re still in it together.”

Like many entrepreneurs, Kennedy works a full time job also, and despite the economic downturn he reports that the business has really taken off in the last year. How has he grown the business in this period?

“We offer a Lowest Price Guarantee. Now we just need people to know that we’re out here in Warwick, and to get used to shopping outside of Hamilton.”

Paperwork is his biggest personal challenge. Until the proper financial and accounting systems were in place, Kennedy didn’t realise how well he was doing. He was generating significant income without knowing it!

“I’m not necessarily inspired by others, I keep this to my own realm, I’m happy with my little shop and don’t have aspirations for it to be anything else, but it will grow on its own when it’s ready. I’m happy where I am”, he says.

“My wife is my rock, she gives me guidance and puts me right when I’m going the wrong way”.

Born and raised a Warwick man, Gavin stayed close to his roots, The Hub office is just across the road from the Rubber Tree.

Open 10am – 6pm, Mon – Sat, his business is competition to Hamilton cell phone retailers and he says he wants to convince more city shoppers that there are great places to shop outside of Hamilton that also sell quality goods at great prices.

Gavin Kennedy is one of 5 local entrepreneurs to receive the CoffeeWorks Bermuda Global Entrepreneurship Week Award, a new annual initiative to honour businesses making a contribution to the community.

- Written by Vicki Abraham, on behalf of CoffeeWorks Bermuda. This is the fifth in a series of profiles for Global Entrepreneurship Week [GEW]

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Comments (5)

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  1. Quinton Berkley Butterfield says:

    Awesome story! Keep up the good work!

  2. Robert Daniels says:

    Congratulations Gavin. You deserve all what is coming your way mate. You have done us ALL proud here at DAO and LFWIA.
    Done Well!

  3. San George says:

    Good for you mate!

  4. tos says:

    Well Done Gav

  5. Llewka' says:

    Keep up the good work gavin. very proud of you. sdo Kennedy lol