Chantelle Flynn, one of the creators of Tiipii bed takes part in our recent success story. She discusses the method of making a niche product an international success. TiiPii Beds are luxury floating hammock beds that create a unique relaxing space to be enjoyed indoors or outdoors.
What made you pursue your unique idea into a small business?
There were a few factors behind bringing our new concept of hammock beds to life. Firstly, it was born after five years of having a successful online business selling assorted styles of hanging garden furniture into the Australian market. However after several years in the industry- and a plethora of feedback- we decided to take these opinions and create our very own design that incorporated all of these unique wants and needs that our customers spoke of. People loved to purchase garden furniture, we definitely knew that. However, most found it difficult to stare at a big cumbersome egg chair in their garden when out of season. Other feedback that coaxed us to the drawing board was that these items were static pieces and were eternally bound to the garden, relatively unmovable and unable to provide the option to enjoy and relax elsewhere. There was also the fact that such large objects essentially only accommodated for one person, so no allowance for family and friends to all enjoy together which seemed a shame.
The second motivator is that all three of the co-founders are avid Aussie travellers. We always observed the opportunities to just stop and ‘be’ whilst exploring the world. So we decided to collate these ideas into one versatile product. We were passionate about the concept of giving people the opportunity to introduce a little slice of ‘holiday’ into their everyday lives. After doing our market research, we couldn’t wait to get started.
What were your worries/expectations?
When bringing a completely new concept to market, of course the first worry is “will this even work?!” It was the first time we were devising something from scratch so it was a little unnerving to say the least. There are so many elements that come into it when designing a product that is suitable for the indoors as well as out. It has to support weight but has to be lightweight and transportable, it has to assemble easily. We had eagerly worked out all of our expectations of the product very early, but materializing them proved not so easy!
How does being a business owner differ from your previous roles?
The pride of creating something from concept to being is truly a feeling second to none. But that can also come at a price. Generally speaking, you don’t have as much of an opportunity to finish up for the day and not think about work until the next morning. You are constantly devising, thinking, conspiring- sometimes even in your sleep! Being a business owner, especially of a young start up, you learn to wear many hats and that can be difficult as sometimes you are literally learning as you go. However, the independence and flexibility that you have as a business owner alongside the sense of satisfaction is incomparable to that of anything else experienced professionally in the past.
What was your experience like expanding internationally, from Australia to the UK?
There were obviously a lot of challenges, learning about the different laws, legislations and standards that the UK and Europe has in place. However it’s most certainly do-able! It just takes time when you have a lot to consider. The UK itself has some fantastic incentives, grants and support practices in place that can really help when dealing with the trials and tribulations of a start-up. This is fantastic, as it truly encourages people to pursue their inner entrepreneur!
What is your secret behind the success of such a niche product?
We’ve always ensured that TiiPii has an inspirational story to tell, a ‘feel’ and a life of its own. Essentially TiiPii is not just another piece of lifestyle furniture; it’s a lifestyle choice. We have achieved our successes through allowing people to truly visualise this concept and tap into their very own lives and problems they may be facing too; getting the kids to play outside once again, giving busy parents back their ‘me’ time, to give the opportunity to hang out with loved ones. To go camping, to explore with your family.
As we don’t have a bricks and mortar shop, we do this through our brand communication. It’s Aussie, conversational and light hearted. Our images are vivacious, inspirited and always full of life. We’ve taken a lot of time to express the countless different ways to enjoy a TiiPii via various platforms and social media channels. You can see it in different places, inside and out, with different age groups and demographics all enjoying it. This opens up people’s minds and allows them to easily envisage themselves doing exactly that.
How would you describe your crowdfunding experience?
To date, it’s been great. There’s a lot of work that goes in to it, however it’s exciting times ahead indeed. We’re thrilled about not only launching in a few weeks on the Indiegogo platform, but also about the further international reach this will give us as a result. It’s definitely not something that we’d recommend trying to take on as one person, as essentially there’s a lot of elements that have to be considered before pressing the button. So the best advice is to herd your team, friends and family, rack their brains and delegate, delegate, delegate.
What were some of the biggest challenges that you faced?
Definitely the biggest challenge was creating and perfecting the initial product design. We have worked extremely hard to make a diverse, reliable and versatile product that does everything it says on the tin. This has involved going back to the drawing board several times, which can be difficult as each previous time you think you’ve got it. However when you do, it’s an incredible feeling. It’s also quite hard to get a completely new concept to market out there, especially online. To categorise it so it is easily searchable on the Internet can be time consuming – especially when it’s not quite a hammock, nor just a static floating bed. This is when the concept of a ‘hammock bed’ enters. So there were also initial challenges on how to expose a concept that perhaps does not have that ‘Google-ability’ factor yet.
What is the best lesson you have learnt from your business endeavour?
To always utilise your team fully and the different skillsets people have within. It’s great to be able to embrace each and every strength or quirk that someone may have to offer and apply it to a different part of the business. Even if that does leave you feeling out of your depth or like a fish out of water at times! The achievements that have risen out of our challenges have left each one of us believing in ourselves more than we could have ever imagined. It’s self-exploration in a way. Learning to deal with trials and tribulations every day, to celebrate each and every win no matter how small they are. And to dust yourself off and jump straight back in when something hasn’t quite gone to plan. That’s a skill.
What advice would you give someone wanting to start their own niche business?
Make a start. It can be the smallest idea, the tiniest concept. But until you actually start to explore it and put pen to paper it will always just be a thought or a ‘what-if’. There’s no way five years ago we would have thought we’d be inventing hammock beds! But it all started with an idea, which was emphasised by a gap in the market and accelerated by a whole lot of passion. That’s one ingredient you must always start with: Passion.
What are your plans and hopes for the future?
World domination of course! For example, we can’t wait to see our newly released commercial Poolside TiiPii in each and every one of the world’s favourite beach bars and resorts. It’s exciting times ahead indeed, and we truly can’t wait for every chapter that’s to come. Our brand and range is growing every day as we continue to plot and provide for the different wants and needs of our customers. Alongside the Poolside TiiPii, we’re also launching a miniature children’s TiiPii Bed that gives the little ones a tranquil space of their very own, which is also a very exciting – and different – concept for schools, nurseries and play centres. So look out world, TiiPii is coming for you…
More success stories here.