JP & Arthur's story: From private equity & sales to a standup startup
After meeting whilst taking part in Escape the City’s Startup Accelerator in 2017 and working on separate projects, JP and Arthur decided to join forces to launch Deskmate, a pop-out, portable standup desk business. Here they share their story, and what they’ve been up to ahead of the launch of their newest product for laptop users – Minimate.
Arthur and I met at Escape The City in 2017. Arthur had recently left his job in private equity and I was working part time as a sales director for financial firm in the city. Both of us were actually working on separate projects (a music platform and creative space rental) before eventually starting to work together on Deskmate.
The idea for Deskmate came around whilst we were both working at Google Campus (free co-working space). Arthur was suffering from back pain and had asked to see if any standing desks were available – the answer was ‘no, sorry, they are too expensive’. Both of us were keen for a side hustle to earn some cash whilst working on our projects set about finding a way to build a standing desk without breaking the bank.
Deskmate version 1 was inspired by an influx of products in the US being made of cardboard at the time (chairs, tables, office desks), and we came up with an initial fold out design and sent it to my uncle who luckily ran a cardboard production facility in Leicester. They invited us both for a meeting, loved the idea and had prototypes within 2 weeks. We started fast, with limited planning, wanting to get the product out there. Looking back, we could have been more patient to market, built a better website, but it was about getting feedback and seeing if there was an appetite.
I can recall thinking at the end of the first month that co-working spaces must have a need for the product – being affordable, space convenient and easy to fold away. I rang a friend of mine Tara at WeWork Old Street thinking it was going to be an immediate no. She said a pop up spot was available for the following Tuesday if we wanted it but at the time. We had a basic website and about 30 units! We went for it anyway and sold 5 in an hour – a real eureka moment. From there, we placed our first order and started to take Deskmate a little more seriously.
Fast forward to now, we’ve sold over 1,500 units, signed partnerships with Three, Virgin and launched our first wholesale accounts. Business is still tough but between us we now have a grasp on what needs to be done to make an ecommerce business successful. I’d like to say thanks to Escape for providing a platform for us to meet and get together with like minded entrepreneurs.
We’re also happy to connect with any like minded people in the ESC community – drop us an email – firstname.lastname@example.org