On Starting An Eco-Friendly Handmade Furniture Business

Published: August 9th, 2019
Maurici Badia
Founder, HANNUN
from Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
started June 2017
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Hello! Who are you and what are you working on?

Hello! My name is Maurici Badia, I am 30 years old and I am the founder and CEO of Hannun, the first Digital Native Brand of eco-friendly and handmade furniture.

We are based in Barcelona and we design, manufacture and sell eco-friendly and handmade furniture all over the world to young people aged between 25-45 years old (mostly women) who are thinking of moving to a new house with their partners or renewing the style of their actual homes.

Hannun sold its first product in July 2017 and this year 2019 we will make 1,2M€, having reached more than 10.000 customers, mostly in Spain and starting to expando to Europe.


What's your backstory and how did you get into entrepreneurship?

My father is an Engineer, with his own Engineering company. My mother is a Psychologist, with her own psychology office. I was born in a family of entrepreneurs; entrepreneurship was normal for me but I was not really conscious about it untill I got older.

I love learning by making mistakes, it means you’ve tried it. When you are creating a new brand, using new technology, new features in social media platform, there is nothing written, you need to try many things and some of them will work, some not.

I decided to become an Engineer as well, as I thought it would open a lot of professional doors in the future. This allowed me to work in two different companies, having international experiences. But first, I tried to start my own company, in which I tried to design websites, back in 2012. I did not succeed, I had a lack of knowledge about the professional world. So, I decided to start sending my CV to many different companies, so that I could learn from them. The first one took me to China, for two years. I learnt a lot there, both about business and life. The second company was a startup and I worked there as a business development manager for Latin-america.

I always said I wanted to have my own company before I got 30 years old and, when I was 28, this startup in which I was working, had to restructure, having to fire the CEO, closing the laboratory and dispensing with my area, LATAM. So, there I was, with 28 years old and fired. I thought that was the perfect moment to pursue my dreams, to try it again. I signed up for an entrepreneurs contest and won the opportunity to develop my own idea with their support for six months. I had identified a kind of furniture, eco-friendly, handmade that was not being sold by furniture companies nor people were making it in their homes, so I tried to make a brand out of it.

By then, I had 5.000€ in my bank account, so it allowed me to try it. I decided to try the “fail cheap and fail fast” so I just picked some pictures from Pinterest and post them in Wallapop. If there was an order I would start making it.

Take us through your entrepreneurial journey. How did you go from day 1 to today?

Once I posted the first pictures in Wallapop, I decided to take a rest, for some days, as I had never stopped since I started working y the first company. When I got back from my rest, I opened Wallapop and realized there were orders. I have to say that I was shocked by those people willing to spend money in my proposal. So, I took my car and went to buy some wood and some utilities so that I could make the products I had sold. Once I had made them, I delivered them with my own car. This is how Hannun started.

Then, I decided that I had to show the product to the whole world and what was even more important, the whole process of manufacturing. This was something the rest of the brands could not do, so I had to take advantage on it. So I created an Instagram account.

My sister had a friend in town, who was influencer, with around 50k followers and I asked her if I could give her one of my products so that she could say Hannun had done it. And that was the moment Hannun opened to the world. Followers started coming by thousands, growing at a ratio of 1.500 per week, so we kept making collaborations with influencers, only with those who accepted product as exchange. We have never paid money to any influencer. We believe that, in this way, the influencer really collaborates with the brand because she/he is in love with the brand and so the communication is more real. Our communication and the way of doing it has been a key factor of our growth. We have built a brand with its own personality. We are constantly uploading videos to Instagram and Facebook of our team, both the offices and the workshops.

First, we started manufacturing everything and now we have externalized the production to artisans with which we connect through technology. We have now 8 suppliers, who manufacture our products and send them from their own warehouses. This allows us to have a scalable project.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

This month we will reach breakeven.

The project could have been profitable since the very beginning since we first receive the money and then we manufacture and send the product. Though, we wanted to grow as fast as possible so we went out to look for funding. The investors liked the project, the strategy, and the margins so we started making investment rounds. We have done 3 rounds till now, reaching 500.000€ in fundings.

Since we started, we have been growing x3 each year-to-year. Our contribution margin is around 30% and our customer acquisition cost is 28€. We spend around 10% of revenue in digital ads. We have around 60k visitors per month and around 70k€ revenue. The returning rate is around 15%.

On social media, we have around 200k€ followers only in Instagram. We’ve created one account per country and the main one is the Spanish. We have around 10.000 subscribers in our newsletter.

The team is divided into Marketing and Operations. We have 4 people in Marketing (Design, PR, Social Media, Customer Service) and 4 people in Operations (Production manager, suppliers manager, purchase manager and COO).

We are expanding to Europe this year, trying to replicate the model in the rest of the countries by collaborating with influencers and growing our organic community there, which later will convert into customers. We want to make 3M€ next year 2020 and 7M€ on 2021. We are also working in developing an app, so that people can see how our products look in their homes.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

I love learning by making mistakes, it means you tried it. When you are creating a new brand, using new technology, new features in social media platform, there is nothing written, you need to try many things and some of them will work, some not.

Start writing down your ideas, start looking for information, start creating something or selling someting.

I’ve learnt a lot through these two years of entrepreneurship. The first one is that you need to love it, otherwise it can be too hard some days. I think that, by creating this brand, we are learning something new every day. I have learnt that selling is like making others fall in love with your product and your brand, If there is no love, sales become much colder and difficult, less organic growth which leads to more expenses.

I also learnt the difference between delegate and abdicate. When you hire someone to do something you used to do, it is really easy to abdicate, so that new someone does it, but I think it is a mistake I have done several times. As a leader or CEO, you cannot abdicate, you need to delegate, which means someone else will do it but under your leadership and control.

I also said, that I started Hannun with my brother and sister. I learned how difficult it can be to work with your family. The team you create will be a key factor for the project and the relationships between you all need to be almost perfect. There needs to be respect, tolerance and gratitude everyday. I also learnt that everyone is trying his/her best everyday and mistakes are not done on purpose. This allowed me to see things with more perspective.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

We try to be as more efficient as we can every day, and this comes with technology. There are lots of apps and SAAS out there, which are really helpful for startups like Hannun.

We use Holded for our financials and human resources (we used Factorial before). We use trello for our tasks and Excel for our calendars.

Our website is a Shopify integrated with lots of plugins.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, the founder of Nike and Happiness Equation by Mo Gawdat.

The first one helped me to see that you can begin from zero, from completely zero, only with your passion, strength and effort. Phil Knight started his journey alone, with a wish to creat a Shoes brand, traveling around the world looking for suppliers and validation of the business he had in mind and he succeeded, selling his first shoes from his parents house.

The Happiness equation helped me to see the world from a new perspective, to understand more who we are and why we are who we are. It als taught me how to overcome drawbacks in life, no matter what.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

My first advice is start trying, no matter what you try or how. Start writing down your ideas, start looking for information, start creating something or selling someting. No worries, you will learn by the way, which I think is the best way to learn.

Also, try to learn everyday, no matter from who or how but learn from things you like or look up to. It can be people you already know, podcasts, videos or books. But don’t stop learning and be willing to listen around you.

Where can we go to learn more?