Furniture startup , which designs and manufactures modern furniture and sells it direct to consumers, expects to double its sales this year, to $200 million, cofounder and CEO Aamir Baig told Forbes. Modern Design Furniture in USAIf it succeeds, that would put it in the same league as successful Casper, Purple and Leesa, and prove wrong those who’ve questioned the ability of startups to manufacture and sell bulky items where design is critical direct to consumers over the Internet sight unseen.
Baig, 38, and his cofounders – Fraser Hall and twins Sam and Andy Prochazka – launched the Vancouver-based company in May 2013. They grew Article rapidly by taking control of the supply chain and selling direct at far lower prices than retailers could. Like many direct-to-consumer businesses, they promoted the aspirational brand on Instagram, where it now has more than 200,000 followers, and they used data to test their products with small production runs, refining their plans based on what sold and what didn’t.
The strategy worked: Article’s revenue neared $50 million in 2016, then doubled to $100 million in 2017. It is profitable, and, unlike the typical Silicon Valley-based startup of this size, Article has taken only minimal outside financing. “We have been disciplined operators,” Baig says.
The brainstorm for Article (which was originally called Bryght) dates back to 2011, when Baig and the Prochazka brothers were brainstorming over pancakes and coffee at their local IHOP. Andy Prochazka, who had previously worked in consumer electronics, had taken a sabbatical in China, to learn Mandarin. “It always frustrated me going into meetings in China, and not being able to speak directly to the engineers,” he says. While in Asia, “he was exposed to the world of manufacturing and retail,” Baig says. “It was a big surprise to see how production costs translate to retail pricing costs in North America. We started chatting and looking at this industry. We asked, ‘What can be done to make the whole process more efficient?’”
Over that breakfast at IHOP, they hatched the plan for what became Article. Not long after, Baig got in touch with Fraser Hall, who he knew through a company that Hall had founded, and Hall, frustrated by his own experience buying furniture, joined them. “We had been engineering new solutions to problems for a decade in our other endeavors, and we immediately got into the engineering of it,” recalls Andy Prochazka, the company’s chief marketing officer. “We’re all computer engineers, so we’re all super nerds,” adds Hall.