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1. Describe your business in two paragraphs.
ufurnish.com is an online furniture search and discovery engine, which helps connect people with amazing furniture from over 100 retailers including John Lewis, Wayfair, Dunelm and Grace & Grey. I designed ufurnish.com to solve the problem I, and 1000's like me faced, furnishing our homes - and now I am really excited that everyone can search, discover, compare and shop for their home all in one place.
ufurnish.com aggregates products across the entire furniture retail market and allows people to easily search and find the right products for them based on their relevance, ensuring they find the perfect wardrobe, gazebo or desk. ufurnish.com also provides people with top tips, inspiration and sales content from retailers and industry professionals, that helps inform their home furnishing decisions.
2. What achievement/success story(ies) are you most proud of?
It has been a busy year for ufurnish.com in 2020 to date. We closed a £1.8m seed investment round, after which we hired a team of 16 including the ex CTO of Bookatable (which was sold to The Fork in early 2020, part of Trip Advisor) and the ex CMO of DFS (the market leading sofa retailer in the UK).
We launched the ufurnish.com brand and website to consumers in July 2020 and since then have been growing rapidly month on month, including growing our retail partners to over 100 with a broad selection from larger names such as John Lewis, Made, Wayfair to more unique players including Grace & Grey, Claire Gaudion and Abigail Ahern to name but a few.
3. What are your business current challenges and in the 2/3 years to come?
ufurnish.com is an early start business that is entering its growth phase. The primary challenge to scaling the business will be 1) continued access to capital and talent 2) building consumer awareness and 3) ensuring this is all done on a profitable basis, so management of costs against revenue will be key.
4. What do you think makes Portugal and/or Ireland an attractive destination to conduct your business?
The key factors include:
5. What sectors do you think will thrive in Portugal and Ireland in the coming years and why?
I think technology and tourism will be two of the big winners. In particular, I think that Portugal will continue to thrive as a technology hub given their open visa programme and ability to attract talent into the country from Brazil and elsewhere. Ireland has a great track record of attracting market leading technology companies to the country and this reputation will continue to attract more like-minded companies.
Both Ireland and Portugal are well positioned with good education, English speaking or high levels of English fluency and being part of Europe yet close to the States to companies. Both countries have a strong standard of living to attract talent, although Portugal benefits from a few more hours of sunshine…
6. What is the best business advice you have ever received?
Always do due diligence and research to back up all your ideas before implementing. Try and find a wide and varied sub-group of people to run your ideas past. In my experience this saves time implementing ideas that aren’t backed up by consumer research.
In doing this for my business, I’ve also found that some people are often hesitant to give tough feedback instead saying everything is great to spare your feelings. Try to really get to the bottom of what they really think and most importantly WHY. Those who disagree can be your best source of valuable information.
7. How do you think the IPBN can help you achieve your objectives and what do you expect from your IPBN membership?
The IPBN has been amazing in opening up a network of people in Lisbon who are familiar with all the challenges I am facing by setting up my business in Lisbon. This includes hiring, culture and red tape explained. In addition, I have had introductions to many people who can help with getting my company set-up, accountants, lawyers, nearshoring companies and of course all the IPBN members who have, been there, done that, before me.
The IPBN members have been more helpful than I envisaged when signing up and I hope that one day I can repay all my lessons to those that follow me.
8. Favourite destinations in Portugal and why?
As the saying goes “A picture is worth a thousand words” so my favourite destination in Portugal is Sintra. I spent a day getting lost in Pena Palace, the gardens were so tranquil. Combine that with the castles, cobbled streets and colourful homes, it’s a super romantic and magical town.
9. Favourite destinations in Ireland and why?
Has to be Sligo (full disclosure it’s where I am from), undiscovered and raw beauty with great outdoors activities like surfing, golfing and my all-time favourite, horse riding on the beach ahead of a seaweed bath at Voya Seaweed Baths.