Made for success

As part of [email protected], we recently hosted Julien Callede, Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Made.com.

Founded in 2010, Made.com has grown from the brainchild of three friends to a household name.

Simultaneously operating in the spheres of furniture, design, logistics and e-commerce, Made.com’s ethos is to provide high-quality furniture at a low cost.

To begin with, our interviewer Axel Threlfall, Reuters Editor-at-large, asked Julien to explain the inspiration behind Made.com.

Julien recounted how he and his co-founders had seen a gap in the market. They saw how customers couldn’t afford unique items, talented designers weren’t being employed and manufacturers were being underused.

The team partnered with Brent Hoberman, one of the founders of Lastminute.com, and began to raise funds for their idea of an e-commerce company, selling well-designed, affordable furniture.

Julien explained how fundraising was fairly straightforward as they had a good business model, which had already been proven to work in other countries.

The company launched in 2010 and Julien himself boxed and labelled their first 30 sales.

Julien explained how the company then went from strength to strength and in 2011 launched a marketing campaign to spread brand awareness.

Partially as a result of the marketing campaign, their sales quadrupled in a matter of months. Unfortunately, Made.com’s logistics supplier and customer services department were not prepared at this point in time for such surge in business.

Julien stated that their main mistake during the journey of setting up Made.com was not planning sufficiently for a period of high growth.

The company set about hiring more people and looking for a better logistics supplier.

After ironing out the issues with customer service and logistics, Made.com looked at new innovative ideas to grow its customer base and improve its brand image.

Julien recounted how they had launched a physical showroom, which turned out to be the best decision they could have made at that time.

This strengthened the brand and brought in new types of customers., Made.com now has three showrooms in the UK, as well as ones in Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin. They also launched Unboxed, a platform for customers to feature photos of their beloved Made.com items in their own homes.

This idea proved to be great PR and was not costly at all. Made.com has also been successful in expanding overseas, in countries such as France, Italy and Germany.

Axel asked Julien how they set about growing their overseas presence, after initially just being based in the UK.

Julien explained how being French himself and the close proximity of France made the country the obvious choice for the first overseas destination.

After learning from the launch in France, the company made it their policy to find good marketing agencies in each new country, as well as creating teams to manage the business out there.

Lastly, Julien discussed how he became an entrepreneur, saying he never initially considered it, but it, “just happened.” He had signed up to business school and then helped someone launch a company, which inspired him to do the same.

He never saw himself working in furniture, sourcing or working with Chinese manufacturers, but is now doing all three activities and running a business with total sales of approximately £100m a year.

By Helen Watts, MBA-candidate, Cass Business School

About the author: Steve Shepperson-Smith

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