Internet Retailer and furniture supply chain breakers, Made are about a decade ahead of their time.
From concept to fruition, the UK-based company catapulted Europe into the future of e-tail and has already stamped a footprint on the way people buy furniture.
Chinese bred & France led founder Ning Li, saw an opportunity to make waves in a stagnant market after some frustration when trying to furnish his flat.
“A friend in China who was a furniture manufacturer told me he would sell a sofa for £400 to agents, who would then re-sell it to a wholesaler in Europe, but when it eventually came to the store the price tag was outrageous. The same sofa was selling for £3,000.” (Source: The Guardian)
His idea to slash the middle man and consequentially, the need for markup turned Made into the only bona fide competitor to IKEA.
In their latest round of funding, the company managed to raise 45 million euros to accelerate their growth across new and existing markets.
But, what is it about Made that makes investors so confident they’ll continue being a game changer?
Rising up by Stepping Back
In 2016, Li made the decision to step down as CEO and hand over operations to long-time colleague Philippe Chainieux.
“I look at myself more as an entrepreneur than a manager…and it’s something I feel confident to pass onto a professional manager to manage on my behalf.”
Learning the lesson of delegation as a leader was a tough pill for the self-professed “control freak” to swallow, but one that didn’t come without reward. Knowing his strengths and weaknesses only served to help Ning, Chainieux and Made.com evolve in the long run.
Agility as a Recurring Theme
Agile. Business buzzword or a talisman to carry around in your pocket?
Whichever your convictions, agility is now the barometer of internet retailer success when measured against competitors in driving sales. But, even beyond numbers – Made practices agility on a holistic level and embraces all its’ values – which is what truly makes them admirable.
One way Made practices business agility is through their use of crowdsourcing.
By allowing up & coming designers to enter their own proposals via online platform, TalentLab, they capitalize on an untapped pool of talent while empowering customers at the same time.
And, while other companies of the same caliber might hesitate to dive into what they consider risky waters, this initiative only supported Made’s agile business model.
With customers being able to pledge a refundable deposit and vote for their favorite designs, they could relish in being privy to something original, something exclusive.
Designs that reach necessary funding are then sent into production and because orders are strictly on demand, unsuccessful products don’t get produced – minimizing waste and maximizing value for money for customers at the end of the day.
Made.com and Pentalog kick-started their collaboration in 2014, 5 years ago. Made’s objective was to be able to grow the IT team quickly, in a cost-effective manner – with a partner sharing the same values and Agile mindset. Unboxed was the collaboration’s first (quite challenging) project, – executed by 5 professionals who were able to deliver the first working version within 3 months.
To this day we still discuss how crazy this deadline was!
One year and a handful of fruitful projects later, Made’s team extension with Pentalog gained about 5 more people.
The phrase team extension is emblematic, and a key element in this success story. Treating the Pentalog team not as a separate entity, but an extension of Made’s internal team built a spirit of teamwork – that much more solid. Communicating as a single unit with the same expectations, coupled with regular travel between London and Iasi ensured their success as our success.
Today both Made’s IT Department and Pentalog’s boosted team extension – in the Agile mindset, continue to adapt the organization to the new business requirements, evolving and growing with new addressed markets.
If you haven’t already, you may want to consider injecting your business with a hefty dose of agility – and we’d love you help you.
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