A Co Antrim entrepreneur has launched his very own outdoor brand in the USA, only to see it become the number one selling brand in its market, thanks to support from the Go For It programme, in association with Mid and East Antrim District Council.
The project is part funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the Investment for Growth and Jobs Northern Ireland (2014-2020) Programme.
Darren Campbell (31), from Kells, launched his Amazon FBA business, Commerce DC, less than a year ago during lockdown and has gone on to launch his own outdoor brand, Outlantis, that quickly became one of the top selling products in its marketplace in a matter of weeks.
The fiancé and dad of one had been working for a government office and was working from home due to Covid when he heard about the idea of Amazon FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon), a programme that allows participant businesses to store their products at its fulfilment centres and undertakes to pick, pack, ship and provide customer care for those products.
Darren said: “We were house bound and I was spending a lot of time on social media and that’s when I came across Amazon FBA. I was using TikTok and it kept coming up. I thought to myself this looks too good to be true, but the more I investigated it, the more I got heavily invested.
“Instead of having a workforce, I pay Amazon a fee per unit for what I want to sell. Since I originally started doing it, I’ve been able to upscale my orders very quickly.”
At first, Darren ran Commerce DC from home, but soon realised he needed a better solution and applied for a unit in Ballymena Business Centre, where he was able to store his products, including toys, Covid masks and kitchen supplies.
“I started working from home and got all the products coming to my house, but there were so many boxes and products that we needed to get a unit,” he says.
“I ended up building up enough capital to build my own brand in the US called Outlantis, which is a mixture of ‘outdoor’ and ‘Atlantis’. We made $23,600 in our first 30 days after launch and we’re now the number one selling brand in our category.”
Outlantis is an outdoor adventure brand, and its first product was a casting net, Darren says.
“It’s an American fishing net – you basically throw the net out into the water with a rope attached to it and when you pull the rope in, it closes and catches the fish because they can’t get out.
“It’s now the number one selling brand in the fishing category – we are shocked to have done these sorts of numbers so early, but it has given the business such an amazing boost.
After Darren began working from his unit at Ballymena Business Centre, a staff member advised him to look into the Go For It programme to help the business off the ground – and that proved to be a valuable experience.
Darren said: “Mark Donald was my business adviser – he helped me to develop a business plan and really supported me with how it was structured it. The good thing is he has a strong background in marketing and my marketing skills were probably not where they needed to be. He played a key role in helping us drive reach and engagement across our various social media platforms.
“It’s been insane over on Instagram – I’ve already massed over 10k followers in the first 45 days. It wouldn’t even be a year yet since I launched Commerce DC – it was just at the end of July, and nine months later here we are.”
“Now I intend to launch more Outlantis products for rope climbing, fishing, surfing kayaking, things like that – it’s exciting. If it hadn’t been for Covid, it never would have happened, so that is the silver lining for me.”
Business Adviser, Mark Donald said: “From the moment I started to work with Darren, you could get a feel for his energy and enthusiasm. He knew what he wanted to achieve, had a goal and the business plan I was compiling for him was adding to making his vision into reality.
“It’s fantastic for me, as someone who was there with Darren on the ground floor to see his quick rise and I’m genuinely happy for him. I’m also happy for the people that will work with Darren, as his vision is to help others through his journey and learning experiences and I’m keen to see the future unfold for Commerce DC.”
William McCaughey, Mayor of Mid an East Antrim Borough Council, said: “It’s absolutely fantastic to see new business ventures like Commerce DC seeking the support of the Go For It programme and launching in our Borough. Entrepreneurs like Darren are going to drive the economic growth of the Borough for years to come, especially as we move through this pandemic, and I wish him every success in developing growing his business.
“I have known Darren and his family for a long time so it’s great to see business programmes such as this bringing forward and supporting new business entrepreneurs such as Darren.”
we’re now the number one selling brand in our category.
Whatever your business idea, whether it’s just something you’ve been mulling over or whether you’ve taken some steps on the entrepreneurial path already, we’d love to help. Read some of our Go For It Success Stories and get in touch. Our business experts will be delighted to hear from you and to talk you through everything you might need to know to move forward with your business concept.