Vintiqa: Gordon Harpur
The business owner tells us about his plans to disrupt an "illiquid" marketplace and how his business will raise finance in the next year
Name: Gordon Harpur
Company name: Vintiqa
Date launched: 25/08/15
Tell us what your business does:
Vintiqa is a new platform where design lovers can buy, sell and fall in love with preowned unique, vintage and antique furniture from the best dealers and homes across the UK. We offer seamless service, handle payment and orchestrate delivery. We also offer returns.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
Searching for preowned furniture on existing platforms is tedious and, the vast majority of times, fruitless. Specialist auction houses are stuffy and overpriced. The current offering just doesn’t work optimally for either side of the transaction.
I experienced this first hand when trying to furnish my home with interesting items. Then, I experienced the other side when trying to sell all these items I had accumulated. The market for pre-owned furniture is “illiquid” and we aim to disrupt that and take it mainstream.
How did you know there was a market for it?
I spent some time buying and restoring furniture and I was always getting asked to source certain styles and items.
The demand is there, and I knew where to find all these great items, but there is just no existing platform which connects the correct audience with the best furniture.
What were you doing before starting up?
I have worked as a trader in a London investment bank for the past five years, trading all sorts of wild and wonderful financial instruments.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Yes, I have always had a strong interest in business. I started actively investing in start-ups over the past two years. This sparked my entrepreneurial spirit again. I want to create something that can disrupt the furniture market for the better.
For too long, flat pack from China has been the norm. It has its place, but I believe buying vintage and preloved is much more exciting and therapeutic. Also, it holds its value.
How did you raise the money?
I am currently self-funded. I designed the entire platform from the bottom up and contracted out some development work. I will look to raise a funding round within 12 months but I am also on the hunt for a co-founder who has a real passion for vintage and antique furniture.
We are growing fast and I need another hand on deck to help drive the platform.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
We are disrupting the current antique directories, which charge dealers a monthly subscription to showcase their items. We turn this on the head, align our interests and charge 15% commission on every sale made through the platform.
For this, we enhance listings, arrange payment and delivery, and promote your items to our database of well-heeled furniture buyers.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
Many payment providers did not want to partner with us as we handle the transaction on behalf of the seller. However, we put a strong emphasis on accurate, clear and honest listings and take all the risk away by managing the entire process from payment through to delivery.
We also offer a clear and thoughtful return policy.
What was your first big breakthrough?
Within two weeks of launch and organic marketing only, we received an excess of 20 dealers signing up to join the platform. Vintiqa is growing fast with new sellers beginning to list their collections all the time. Transactions have also started and we now embark on an exciting stage of showcasing all our unique finds to design savvy buyers across the UK.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Launch early, don’t be afraid if your product is not perfect initially, people are generally forgiving. You will learn so much from initial mistakes and failings. It is normal that things go wrong. Build from it and adjust.
Most importantly, be passionate. Never launch something that you are not passionate about, passion creates the vision to drive your brand forward.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
Partnered with the vast majority of furniture dealers across the UK and Europe, to bring vintage and antique items into the mainstream.
Most importantly, make it as easy to sell as it is to buy. Furniture and home interiors can finally become an investment, rather than an expensive burden.
‘I have worked as a trader