5 steps to build a thriving business

Kumpan Electric’s owner, Alexander Welbers, believes that his scooters are the best way to get around a busy city. (Credit: Patricia Brochu)

Annie Bourque | Journalist

Born in Germany, Alexander Welbers began his management career the sporting goods industry, during which time he held positions in both Switzerland and China. Today, Alexander is planting roots in North America with his Kumpan Electric scooters. Keep reading to find out more about this entrepreneur's secret to success. 

1. Build a rock-solid foundation 
When Alexander was a child growing up in Düsselfdorf, he became friends with Patrik, Daniel and Philip Tykesson. In 2008, the Tykesson brother founded an electric scooter company they called Kumpan--the German word for friend. "Even when I was living in Hong Kong, I kept in touch with Patrik, who sometimes called me for advice," recalls Alexander. 

2. Seize opportunities 
During a vacation in Hawaii, Alexander met his future wife, Annie, a Quebecer from Marieville. When their daughter Klara was born in 2014, the couple decided it was time to leave their home in Asia and move to Quebec. "Annie wanted to return to where she grew up, and I thought it was a great idea." 

During this time, Kumpan was becoming a leading manufacturer of electric scooters in Europe. In 2014, the Tykesson  brothers offered Alexander an interesting business opportunity--one that he couldn't pass up. They asked if he would bring Kumpan to North America.  

3. Give people what they want 
Kumpan Electric made its North American debut on rue Queen in Old Montreal. One year later, scooter sales had doubled. So we asked Alexander what his secret was; how did Kumpan do so well when only 1% of Quebecers have heard of the company? "Every one of our customers has had a positive experience with us and they tell their friends about it. Word of mouth, that's how we expanded in Europe."

4. Grow your business
But the question remains how will Kumpan expand in the North American market? "We began a company that's independent from the European one. It's a Quebec company. We want to continue to grow the Kumpan brand and the Quebec market is a crucial part of that; it's our entry point to all of North America."

Alexander has lots of ideas. He's currently working on an agreement with the city of Montreal. Who knows? Maybe one day the city's parking officers will get around on electric scooters. 

New Brunswick and British Columbia are the latest provinces to be introduced to Kumpan scooters. Next, Alexander has his sights set on California and Florida. "With support from our partners, we're hoping to open stores in the U.S. during the first half of 2017." 

5. Prioritize customer satisfaction 
Kumpan customers are half women, half men between the ages of 20 and 70. The scooter's top speed is 65 kilometers an hour. The removable battery weighs 9 kilos and can be charged with a standard electrical outlet. A scooter can be plugged in to 3 batteries at a time and can last up to 150 kilometers.
Customer satisfaction is our greatest asset. "Our customers are happy that they no longer have to pay for gas or parking. Their scooters actually make their lives easier; they're less likely to be late because they're stuck in traffic. It's the perfect way to get around the city."

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