Twofold Founder Anja Bump on Urban Density and Work-from-Home

 
Twofold on SeedInvest

Smart furniture for scarce spaces

Summary

It’s becoming increasingly clear that remote work may be the new normal for many employees. With giants like Facebook, Twitter, and Shopify all announcing expanded work-from-home policies, the trend has been set. But many people may lack the space for a proper home office. Furthermore, current offices have limited space and often awkward layouts that don’t encourage focus.

Enter modular furniture company Twofold. This Deal to Watch wants to change the office furniture paradigm with sleek and compact desks and meeting spaces. We sat down with founder Anja Bump to talk about urban density, the impact of COVID-19, and what’s next for Twofold…


Kingscrowd
For those who don’t know, what is the genesis story of twofold?
Anja

My business partner and I were meeting in a local Portland coffee shop to work on a software sales project. He had requested to meet at a coffee shop because all the meeting rooms in his office were taken – a typical scenario when you have an office with an open floor plan, the meeting rooms go quickly!  After our realization that many companies must be facing the same issue, we decided to do something about it. The idea for Twofold was born: On demand, mobile, private spaces, that offer areas for employees to focus or hold meetings – we call it the Office Plaza. Following the launch of our original Office Plaza we expanded the company to serve onsite healthcare spaces with our Healthcare plaza and zero footprint stations for working from home. 

Kingscrowd
How do you plan on allocating funds raised in this round to scale the business?
Anja

The funds in this round will go towards growth. We are entering the market now and will use the funds to launch our marketing campaigns, support the sales team, and continue to design new products that align with market demands. On the backend, that means increasing our operations team to support the manufacturing and order fulfillment. We will also work on lowering manufacturing costs through value engineering and negotiating with suppliers. We are adding an engineering resource, which will allow our designer to spend more time on product development and a full-time sales and marketing manager to execute our marketing and sales channel strategies. In addition, the funds will be allocated to continue to expand our intellectual property (filing patents), product development (materials, testing), marketing (PR, materials, social media), and customer acquisition (samples, travel).

Kingscrowd
What future products are in your pipeline?
Anja

We recently completed a major product innovation phase to respond to the changes in workplaces due to COVID-19. All of our new products, as seen on our website (twofoldspaces.com) will enable a safer and more comfortable return to offices. We are designing expansions to the Plaza product line that will create spaces for on-site wellness and sleeping areas. Focusing on the working from home shift, we are building out the working wall concept and solutions for on-demand, zero footprint, working stations. Urban density is still a large problem that we have always focused on solving so these product lines are perfect solutions for both the shift in working spaces and creating space for small areas.

Kingscrowd
Do you have any competition, if so, how do you differentiate?
Anja

There are other manufacturers of work pods but none of them have the functionality or flexibility of our Plaza line. From the start, we knew that our Plaza line could serve many different needs, so the base structure is modular and allows us to respond quickly to changes in the market. Competitors in the work-from-home space and solutions for urban density are focused on robotic installations where we are focused on simpler, more accessible solutions. 

Kingscrowd
What are the biggest risks associated with your business?
Anja

The R&D cost, speed and talent. Innovation of hardware takes time and costs more than a software product. The bulk of our product and development cost is behind us, as is the R&D period. We have developed modular systems that we will expand on and adapt as the market changes require. Speed to market will always be important, and we deliver that through our flat hierarchies and quick, responsive, decision-making processes. Lastly – having a strong team is incredibly important. Twofold is built on the dedication of our designers, our sales partners, me and our advisors. 

Kingscrowd
How is your team uniquely positioned to win out in this market?
Anja

One word – experience. Steve, Twofold’s lead designer, first entered the world of furniture development with the Herman Miller and Unisys, Furniture and Computer Integration Project. With that amazing experience in hand, Steve moved to Portland, where he became a key force in the 20-year growth of Anthro Technology Furniture Company, then a small startup, now part of Ergotron. Steve’s extensive Industrial Design experience is bolstered with years of furniture engineering, material sourcing and market research experience, making him a Product Development machine. His work has earned several “Best of Neocon” awards and over a dozen patents on furniture designs and engineering details.

As the founder, I bring 20 years of experience in operations, manufacturing, and supply chain management to the table. I took the leap from nearly a decade of consulting startups, small business and large enterprises to building Twofold from the ground up. My childhood in Europe and Portland’s increasing urban density inspired me to create better solutions that maximize available space at work and at home. 

Our sales partners, Jayson Gates and Jordan Gates also have over twenty years of experience in selling interior design products. Jayson has been in interior design for most of his life and has grown other startups from zero to exit. Jordan Gates has almost twenty years of experience in interior design and enterprise sales and works with his brother Jayson to cover the Pacific Northwest. Due to their successful careers in the interior design industry, they have existing relationships with other independent rep groups, interior designers, architects, and enterprises. Their network will allow us to grow quickly and efficiently. 

And finally, we have amazing advisors on board. We are especially excited about Gretchen Gscheidle, who comes to us from the workplace powerhouse Herman Miller, where she directed strategic research and advanced design for more than twenty years, developing some iconic pieces such as the Aeron chair. 

Kingscrowd
What does your business model look like?
Anja

At Twofold, we are running our processes lean and as on-demand as we want our furniture to be. Our quick decision making and flat hierarchies equal speed to market. Case in point: when the global pandemic started and it became clear that how and where we work will be very different moving forward, our team created products for this new reality within weeks.  

We have created deep and close partnerships with industry experts like architects, designers, engineers, as well as sales and marketing experts. One of the most important partnerships we have is with our group of local manufacturers: We manufacture our products in Portland, Oregon, and almost all of our materials come from the Pacific Northwest. Having our manufacturing partners in our backyard allows us to be there for product development and first article production – immensely important for the quality of our products. All of these partnerships enable us to stay at the forefront of industry and design changes. 

As we continue to grow, our strategy is to keep our decision making fast by keeping hierarchies flat and continuing to expand our team and partnerships. We focus on B2B sales for our product launch and will develop direct to consumer sales for our work from home products over time. 

Twofold is going to market by using the existing network of our sales partners to help us grow into the key markets as quickly as possible. 

Kingscrowd
How has covid-19 affected your business?
Anja

This may sound strange, but it has actually been good for us. Our initial plan was to launch with our office Plaza (a modular focus or meeting space on wheels), and then bring in our working wall, a zero-footprint workstation that transforms walls into workspace. COVID-19 has of course brought a lot of changes to the workplace as we now slowly return to it, as well as where we will work. This has enabled us to rapidly innovate and bring additional solutions to the market that I believe will make us even more relevant than we were before and will solve some of the problems of our new workplace environments, both in the office and at home. As a result, we are going to market with more solutions to help our customers a lot sooner than we were planning. I am very excited about this opportunity, and about our new products. 

We created a healthcare version of our Plaza that provides on-site healthcare where people are anyway (in the lobby of their apartment building, grocery stores, offices). We created panel systems in a wide array of prices that will help create safer spaces in offices, restaurants and a work area for the home. 

I do want to close by saying that we are very grateful for all the health care and front-line workers that are out there every day, keeping things going. The stay at home orders and our recovery would not be possible without their work and dedication. We are thankful.

Kingscrowd
As you think about the business 5-10 years down the road, what do you see exit opportunities looking like?
Anja

I need that crystal ball! One thing I can say for sure is that a startup must be nimble and quick to respond to changing markets and environments. It is our responsibility to act in the best interest of Twofolds’ investors. In 5-10 years, I expect Twofold to be firmly established in the domestic market, as well as strategic global markets such as Europe and Southeast Asia. We have a pipeline of product innovation we plan to pursue in the very large market of workplace, transportation, events, and working from home. There are many acquisitions of companies like Twofold by the large furniture companies. These are often based on relationships, which is why we have been working on cultivating relationships with major companies over the years and will continue to do so. 


We at KingsCrowd are excited to see where Anja and her team take the company. Twofold is currently raising on SeedInvest.


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About: Olivia strobl

Olivia comes to KingsCrowd with a background in venture capital and technology. She spent time at Glasswing Ventures, an AI-focused venture fund in Boston, before joining the KingsCrowd team. There she helped develop machine learning algorithms for the opportunity qualification of preseed and seed-stage startup companies. Prior to her time at Glasswing, Olivia worked in a lab studying the neural correlates of attention. She holds a degree in Neuroscience from Wellesley College.

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