Aussies’ $3.6m business the ‘next Ikea’
A simple idea to create flat pack desks that require no screws or allen keys has seen new business IsoKing rake in a "mind blowing" $3.6 million in revenue in just 12 months.
"We had the goal of $1 million in the first year and we blew that away in only 50 days," co-founder Jeremy Fleming told news.com.au.
But IsoKing was born out of a mad necessity to save the event staging company, Stagekings, that he had created six years ago with wife Tabitha. Business was booming as they created sets for the likes of Ninja Warrior, the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony and at Edinburgh Castle for the Military Tattoo.
But when it was announced Australia was going into a national lockdown in March, they saw the loss of millions of dollars of work overnight.
"We faced a real prospect of losing everything, it's a family owned business, and we talked about how realistically we were looking at losing the house and everything - it was a horrible time," he said.
"We had to tell all the staff we had no work for them and one week later we sent them home. It was an extremely stressful time."
But drawing on their head of design Mick Jessop's hobby in designing furniture - who had also 3D printed his house - Mr Fleming decided to tap into the hoards of people working from home. He tasked Mr Jessop with creating a flat pack desk, which they planned to deliver on the way home from their warehouse.
A post he put out on social media about making the desks to help them "keep the lights on" changed everything. It went viral, after being shared by thousands of people and seen by millions. In a matter of days they were selling hundreds of desks and pulling in event workers who had also had their jobs decimated by the pandemic.
Over the past year, IsoKing has sold 35,000 desks, with a number of different designs ranging in price from $249 to $549, while making other requests such as shoe and wine racks, hat towers and scooter and surfboard racks.
The 43-year-old, who has three children aged 11, 9 and 6 with Tabitha, credits the success to incredible timing.
"We moved really quickly and it was around the same time public gathering bans were put in place and whole industries were having to work from home and Officeworks were sold out and Ikea had no desks," he explained.
"Chinese manufacturers were saying 18 to 20 week lead time for a desk and it was all to do with the story too. People really connected with the story and appreciated we were having a go and because we were delivering the next day that also helped."
Stagekings made a roaring comeback in March with a lot of film production, TV work and corporate events keeping them busy.
There's also been requests for the company to do supermarket fit-outs, pop up stores and more commercial work on the back of IsoKing, he added.
It meant a crossroads on whether they should continue with IsoKing. But with requests for bedframes and bookcases, they wanted to take it even further, and have just launched a new range of furniture with six pieces.
All pieces are made using locally sourced sustainable birch ply, and stay true to the brand's sleek scandi style, with easy, no tools assembly.
It's called the Florence range, in a nod to the first stage they built for the event business, which was for the rock band Florence and the Machine.
It includes a single bedframe for $1590 and a queen size one which costs $2190, while a bedside table will set you back $325. There's also a coffee table for $1050 and an entertainment unit retailing at $1350.
The cheapest bit of furniture in the range is a side table for $290, while the bookcase is the most expensive piece selling for $2590.
"We get so much feedback that people hate allen keys and since the very beginning that was some of the biggest feedback, how simply the desk all goes together, and that was the aim with this range," he said.
"I joke we are trying to look after marriages as I've heard so many stories about people fighting over Ikea furniture."
The future for IsoKing is to have a range that would fill up a two-bedroom apartment, revealed Mr Fleming.
"We want to have a whole range that people can put in the back of a ute or van and build in their apartment in 10 or 15 minutes, as well as really designer looking stuff," he said. "We want to make simple, efficient systems and ranges, particularly for people that continually move around, so that's mostly those younger uni people."
Based in Sydney, Mr Fleming also wants to take IsoKing global and has a goal to become the next Koala Furniture.
"The big dream is that we have a really strong e-commerce furniture business. We kind of compare ourselves to Koala in a way. They have now moved overseas and we have had a lot of inquires from the US, so we are looking at exporting so we have very big plans," he said.
"Other people have said we are the next Ikea and it's kinda ridiculous, but it's funny."
Originally published as Aussies' $3.6m business the 'next Ikea'