The founders of ErgoTune and EverDesk+ discuss cashing in on their brands and expanding beyond Singapore
Joshua Chan, 31, Damon Lye, 31, and Tan Jun Kiat, 32, were classmates at Singapore Polytechnic and became close friends over time.
They enlisted in National Service after graduation and went on to various universities. Aside from Joshua, who majored in Information Technology, Damon and Jun Kiat majored in Business.
The two aspired to create their own firms since they had a keen interest in the business sector. In 2014, Damon founded an electrical gadget e-commerce business, and in 2016, Joshua launched a skills training company.
Despite the short-lived companies (they barely lasted two years each), the entrepreneurial team quickly formed another company together, this time with Jun Kiat.
When Damon wanted to buy a standing desk in 2017, he came up with the idea for ErgoEdge (now rebranded to EverDesk+).
“Back then, if you wanted to buy a standing desk, you had to write to a website and wait a few days for a price ranging from S$2,000 to S$3,000, which we thought was outrageous.” So we figured we’d try to do a better job of delivering ergonomic work equipment at a reasonable price,” Joshua explained.
They began with a pre-order system
The business was “cash flow positive” from the start, thanks to the initial investment of roughly S$30,000 by the founding trio.
Damon defined themselves as “quite conservative and tremendously scrappy” in the early days of the company.
They established the website even before they had any things to sell.
“We wanted to see if there was a market for our items, so we did this.” “When we first started getting orders, we called our first clients, apologized, and offered them a 30% discount if they were prepared to wait two months for the product – that’s how we got some of our initial operating capital,” he explained.
Because they were a bootstrapped company, every dollar was crucial. They would rent a manual van instead of an automatic van to handle deliveries to save S$50.
When they first started, each of the co-founders was very hands-on. They would self-assemble things and stay in clients’ offices until 4 a.m. to set them up.
“We did everything ourselves, and everyone was a salesperson,” Jun Kiat said, adding that they made a lot of mistakes learning the ropes of the “unglamorous” back-end supply chain and logistics of running an e-commerce company.
“For example, when we received our first complete container of products, we had no idea the container would have a bolt on it and had to acquire a bolt cutter in the middle of receiving the container.” We grossly overestimated the time and effort required to extract the items from the container.”
Their container lot neighbors assisted them in locating a bolt cutter as well as providing people and equipment to transfer the pallets of chairs.
He sees such blunders as learning opportunities that have shaped them as entrepreneurs and aided in the expansion of their company.
Covid-19 has proven to be a lucrative economic venture
According to Joshua, their goal is to create the ideal ergonomic chair for consumer comfort using premium materials and cutting-edge technology.
“The most common source of discomfort in chairs is that they don’t suit your body adequately, as everyone’s body form is different. ErgoTune’s 11 calibration points allow you to customize your chair so that it fits like a glove for natural comfort,” he explained.
“We provide 90% of the functionality of a high-end ergonomic chair for a third of the cost.” We don’t believe that a high price equates to (great) quality, but we do believe in making ergonomic furniture accessible to a wider audience.”
Next, Damon discussed the advantages of a standing desk, stating that research has shown the health risks of inactivity and that sitting too much is harmful for one’s health.
“However, we want to take it a step farther. We also aim to assist our users in creating a productive workspace that motivates and encourages them to do their best work. Users can create the optimal workstation based on their working habits and requirements with our extensive accessory range. We can now now help users develop healthier desk habits with the integration of our health coach on the EverDesk+ Max.”
The founders decided to rebrand ErgoEdge to EverDesk+ last year.
“At the time, we were attempting to reintroduce an enhanced product that had been tweaked in response to user input.” It also happened during the height of the pandemic, when the value of having a standing desk rose as more individuals were forced to work from home,” he noted.
As a result of the epidemic, remote and hybrid work have become more popular in the workplace, and the co-founders view this as a growing business potential as they attempt to improve people’s workspaces.
In fact, even before the launch of Covid-19, the corporation was a firm believer in hybrid projects.
“We’ve witnessed how hybrid working arrangements boost people’s overall happiness over the last two years.” People who have greater flexibility can have more fulfilling days while still getting their work done. “We feel our brands are in a unique position to push for employers to trust their employees and provide them with the flexibility they desire,” Jun Kiat said.
“Even if the pandemic is over, we expect hybrid working arrangements to remain.” When assessing a job offer, many of our peers have stated that a hybrid work arrangement has become a non-negotiable feature. As a result, we strongly advise all businesses to reconsider their decision to bring employees back to work every day.”
The co-founders plan to continue developing their brands’ value propositions in the future.
“We’ve always opted to concentrate on how we can improve our products, better serve our customers, and propel our brands forward.”
ErgoTune has been branded Singapore’s “number one rated ergonomic chair” and has garnered a slew of good feedback from customers and the media.
The ErgoTune Supreme, the company’s flagship product, sold approximately 20,000 units last year alone. In 2021, the brand’s overall revenue increased by 150 percent, earning nearly S$13 million.
In an eight-figure agreement, both brands were acquired
Una Brands has purchased ErgoTune and EverDesk+ for US$8.8 million (S$11.83 million).
“We’d evolved to the point where being bootstrapped wasn’t enough to meet the issues we were encountering.” When Una Brands approached us, we saw that their operational skills and financial resources could assist us in accelerating our brands’ growth plans,” Joshua explained.
The ErgoTune and EverDesk+ teams are continuing running and steering the businesses after the acquisition. The most significant change is that Una Brands now collaborates with them on a variety of activities, including operations and branding, in order to assist them expand their brands.
“Operationally, the Una Brands team has aided us in optimizing our order procedure since acquisition, which will help free up more of our team members’ time and provide additional fail-safes and confidence on order fulfillment.” “We’ve also opened a showroom in Sydney and are in the process of listing on Amazon Australia,” Damon said.
The furniture brand’s initial launch produced over 15% of its overall revenue in the fourth quarter of 2021, prompting this new push into the Australian market.
“We’re also looking into the European and American markets, where the ergonomic furniture sector has witnessed tremendous growth due to the transition to hybrid work arrangements.” By the end of the year, we want to have expanded into at least one of these markets.”
They’re about to debut a new version of their ErgoTune chair, and they intend to become the region’s household name for ergonomic furniture as they ramp up their global expansion ambitions.