Society: Open office
Founders: Tim Carrigan, James Arthur, Ian Bennink, Nick Ierodiaconou and Joni Steiner.
Site: London is
Proposal: Opendesk is a global platform for local manufacturing. You can use it to download, craft, and purchase workspace furniture. Opendesk has a global network of manufacturers and a collection of furniture from a range of international designers. Because this piece of furniture is designed for digital fabrication, it can be downloaded as a digital file and made locally – on demand, anywhere in the world. We call it “Open Making”
Cut: 25 employees
How is your business different from what already exists?
It is our business model that sets us apart from other companies in the same sector.
We design the furniture centrally and then partner up with hundreds of small, local manufacturers around the world, who make the items every time someone places an order.
We do this by hosting design files for digitally manufactured products and then sending them to a local manufacturer.
How did you finance your business?
Through private equity and crowdfunding.
What is the most important thing to follow in business and why?
The most important thing is to keep a close eye on the cash flow and to make sure that the team collectively pushes the vision according to the demands of the investors.
What is the biggest challenge you face on a daily basis?
Keep the team on track and manage investor relations.
What marketing techniques do you use to attract new customers?
We focus our marketing activity on four main areas; major industry events, digital (PPC, SEO, social), content and public relations.
Do you think it is important for small businesses to export advice?
Absolutely, but when the time is right.
We’re actually in a lucky position where only 12% of our audience comes from our home market, but that’s also a negative point.
We try to focus on the market in which we are based, before really pushing our promise internationally.
The advice I can give is; focus on your home market, learn from it, improve yourself and look ahead.
This will give you a basis for successfully operating outside of your natural location.
That being said, even if you need to focus on your home market, you need to put in place an expansion / export / international strategy as early as possible so that the business you are developing can be exploited at the right time.
What’s the business app you couldn’t do without?
Slack – this is an app we use for our internal communications.
We also use it every day, on an hourly basis, sometimes even more frequently.
Describe the culture of your company in three words:
Focus on people, iterative and innovative.
What would you like the government to do for small businesses?
Offer tax breaks on first incorporation (i.e. 1/2 years) and provide free accounting support during this period.
Who is your biggest small and medium business hero?
What they are trying to achieve in education is inspiring.
This is what the UK needs to focus on over the next decade and when it comes to the next generation of the workforce.
Where do you want the business to be in three years?
We would like distributed manufacturing, in all its forms, to be a clear choice for the general public.
With Opendesk as a key furnishing solution for mass production
What’s your best tip for keeping it light and making a profit?
Test and iterate based on insights.
Profit can be made from waste, and in a tech startup, you can easily spend many hours creating, fixing, and marketing unwanted features.