Furna: Will Williams

The start-up's founder on why it's important to test your idea and seizing the opportunity to provide a better value product in a rapidly growing market

Name: Will Williams 
Company name: Furna
Location: London
Date launched: 01/05/2015
Website: www.furna.co.uk

Tell us what your business does:

We sell a range of adjustable sit to stand desks (often just referred to as standing desks) which are built well, look good and offer unparalleled value for money.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

I saw the rise in interest and adoption of standing desks around the world, and noticed that full sized sit to stand desks were all hugely expensive, so I decided to have my own built through the manufacturers.

How did you know there was a market for it?

Increasing media attention and public interest as some big name employers started trialling and implementing them for staff, and studies were released showing the benefits of standing, and potential health risks of prolonged sitting.

What were you doing before starting up?

At the start of 2015 I moved to the UK after spending over 3 years in China working in manufacturing and international logistics, most of it for a large Australian retailer.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

I've set up a few small businesses, the first when I was 16. I always knew I wanted to run a business as it's a great feeling to take something from just an idea and turn it into a functioning business.

How did you raise the money?

I funded the first test order myself to see if the desks would sell. They did well on eBay and the Furna website, so I had real evidence to then build my business plan and cashflow to secure a Start Up Loan.

Describe your business model and how you make money:

Furna deals directly with a factory in China, then imports and sells them mostly online. This is a more efficient business model as it cuts out layers of middle men involved in the traditional supply chain prior to a product being sold at retail, which allows Furna to offer market leading value.

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

Product quality and strong packaging is very important and getting either of those wrong when selling a heavy product online can be a very costly mistake.

I had to make sure this was perfect before shipping across the world, and so I flew to China and spent time in the factory to make sure we have a good working relationship with them, and avoid any misunderstandings.

What was your first big breakthrough? 

When I looked at the component costs to manufacture standing desks, and found that there was a real opportunity to provide a much better value product in a rapidly growing market.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Try and start small if you're bringing a product to market, don't invest in too much stock until you know that people are going to buy it.

You can always negotiate smaller order quantities, and if the price goes up slightly it's worth it in order to run small tests and gain valuable market feedback early on.

Where do you want to be in five years' time

I want Furna to be the online leader in standing desk sales in Europe and Asia, as well as to supply standing desks and accessories for large scale office fitout projects.


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