Christophe Hoppe is an entrepreneur and seasoned CFO. Hailing from Switzerland, he launched Bausele in 2011 after moving to Australia. Hoppe’s premium watch brand is the first of its kind in Australia and melds elements from both his current and former home countries. We spoke to Hoppe to learn the story behind Bausele and his view on what makes a business successful.
THE STORY OF BAUSELE:
Bausele is the first Australian-Swiss watch company.
I am the founder of Bausele. I am also the designer of the watches.
The name Bausele is short for Beyond Australian Elements. The name came about because we physically keep a piece of Australia in every watch. There are raw elements, like sand or red earth, in the crown of every watch. It is physically encapsulated in the watch.
I started Bausele because I couldn’t find a job. I moved to Australia from Switzerland after working for fairly big companies. I came here and didn’t have any Aussie experience, so nobody would give me a job. I knew how to make watches, so I started to design them. I made a sample and presented that to investors and that was how Bausele was born. I eventually found a job and became the CFO of Hurley Australasia and ran Bausele on the side of my regular job – but I stopped working there two years ago.
RUNNING A BUSINESS:
What makes Bausule unique as a business is that it was the first of a lot of things in Australia. We have our own production unit in Adelaide at the Flinders University where we make our own components – so we actually manufacture in Australia and we use kangaroo leather. Back in Switzerland, I saw a lot of cool things being done by established brands that didn’t exist here and thought I would bring that know-how and approach to building a brand here. I don’t think it existed before me, and I still don’t think it exists today in the watch world.
What I love most about running my own business is the freedom and self-expression. I used to be a CFO and there were a lot of rules and regulations. You can imagine my relief in becoming a business owner in the creative world.
Bausele’s edge over its competitors is… Australia! It’s the first Australian premium watch brand in the world. We are the first Australian watch brand to have our own local manufacturing unit. We use Australian ambassadors – our global ambassador is Dominic Purcell, an actor in Prison Break. He is from Sydney. We sent a crew of seven Australians to Los Angeles to shoot an Australian movie star. We are really pushing the Australian theme and concept far.
The biggest lesson I’ve learnt since launching Bausele is that ‘cash is king’. I didn’t know what that meant before. I’d always heard it and thought it was bullshit but now I really do know, as a business owner, what they mean by ‘cash is king’.
Bausele is sold online and through stockists like David Jones. The advantage of being in bricks-and-mortar stores is that for a watch that costs $1000 people want to see, feel and touch it before buying. So I need bricks-and-mortar. For me there are three stages: online, our stockists like David Jones, and your own retail store (which is in the process). The three of them are very valuable. I am soon releasing a watch that is $4800 and I feel that I need myself or someone very well trained to sell it, as it is so particular.
SECRETS OF SUCCESS:
I believe to be a successful business owner you have to be very open and adaptable to any situations.
My advice for business owners who are starting out is: go for it. It’s tough but just do it!
The qualities you need to be successful in business? You need to be a hard worker and you have to be resilient.
It’s an exciting time for Bausele now because it has been five years that we have been in business. We are in David Jones. We have new ambassadors. We are now in the U.S., Japan, a store in Paris and we have an agent in Portugal.
My greatest achievement with Bausele to date is creating a watch brand. You need tens of millions and I have done it with very limited capital. I am really proud of having been able to build Bausele.
Looking ahead to the future, Bausele will open up more distribution, sell, sell and sell more watches. Then we‘ll expand into other products, like leather goods, which will be all Australian and done with the right partners.