An Irish start-up aims for world sales with a solution for flat pack furniture, writes Trish Dromey
With an innovative patented solution that can join two pieces of wood together without the use of tools, glues or screws, Dundalk start-up Ovvo says it aims to take the frustration and the heartbreak out of flat pack furniture assembly.
Launched on the market three years ago, and patented in both Europe and the US, the Ovvo connection system involves an interlocking self-clamping clip which forms a tightly held bond between the two pieces of wood or plastic being joined together.
“It brings to end users a simple push-click-connect mechanism that results in significant reductions in assembly times and removes the frustration typically experienced putting furniture together,” explains Ovvo chief executive and co-founder Brendan Phillips.
The company has built up a network of distributors in Europe over the last three years, and is now working on developing sales in the US.
To date, Ovvo has sold mainly to small and medium sized furniture manufacturers but now has its sights on the global giants in the flat pack space.
Mr Phillips says he has had conversations with some major players in the industry including the largest furniture retailer in the US and is hopeful that at least one of these will integrate the Ovvo connection system into their manufacturing process within the next two years.
Obvious targets include companies like Ikea and Home Depot.
The Ovvo connection system was designed and developed as a means of providing an invisible join in furniture making by Mr Phillips’ cousin Sean Phillips, a joiner running his own bespoke furniture making business.
When business dropped off in the recession, he set about turning the prototype he had developed into a commercial product.
For this, he enlisted the aid of another cousin Brendan, an engineer, who was working as a senior executive with a multinational.
“We set up in 2014 — using funding from family and friends to start. We contracted a company in Dundalk to manufacture the connectors for us and we took our first iteration of the product to a trade show in the UK in October 2015,” says Brendan Phillips.
Locating at the Finnabair Industrial Park in Dundalk, the company subsequently set about building up sales by exhibiting at trade fairs around Europe.
“We won a number of awards, including, most recently, the ‘Best of the Best’ award at Interzum in Cologne, in May this year and an MTP Gold Medal at DREMA Trade Fair in Poland in 2016,” says Mr Phillips, who believes this product has the capacity to disrupt the woodworking industry.
“We now ship to companies in over 60 countries around the world on a regular basis.
“The next key region that is being targeted for growth is the US, where Ovvo launched in late 2016 and has just signed a new distribution deal with a leading furniture component distributor,” he adds.
Estimating that sales have grown in the region of 50% this year, he says that to take the company to the next level, Ovvo is embarking on a fundraising round with a view to raising €1m.
Currently employing a staff of six, the company aims to take on three or four additional people this year.
Noting that Ovvo was identified by Enterprise Ireland as a High Potential Start Up in 2016, Mr Phillips says he is confident of attracting significant investment.
While the main objective is to sell to some of the world’s flat pack giants, Ovvo has also identified other markets.
Mr Phillips says that one of its customers is involved in shop fitting and has used the system to reduce the time taken to install the fittings for a coffee shop from two days to half a day.
The company is targeting the components section of the global furniture industry, a segment which Mr Phillips estimates is worth around €90bn.
Coming to market at a time when manufacturers are looking for ways to reduce costs and to make furniture easy to assemble for consumers, Mr Phillips believes that Ovvo is perfectly position to capitalise on trends such as the growth in e-commerce and the increase in demand for ready-to-assemble furniture.
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