My First Million: Rob Bridgman, founder of sofa maker Snug

Greg Stevens

Rob Bridgman, 33, disrupted the regular sofa industry when he founded Cosy in 2018, featuring speedy delivery of modular sofas, assembled in minutes with no applications.

He joined the field 12 several years in the past, operating in his father’s household furniture small business. The catalyst to get started Snug was the entrepreneur’s have disastrous working experience of ordering a sofa.

Bridgman’s Enfield-dependent organization has greater turnover from £470,000 in 2019, to £31.6mn in 2021. There are 72 staff, up from 18 past 12 months, even though buyers have enhanced 50-fold due to the fact 2018. Eighty per cent of the company’s sales are online, with the relaxation from a pop-up store in Leeds and 5 concessions in Bridgman retailers.


Born: Enfield, North London, May well 22, 1988

Instruction: 1999-2006: Haileybury College, Hertford

2006-09: University of Leeds, BA Social Sciences

Profession: Age 14-18: summertime function experience at Bridgman, his father’s backyard furnishings manufacturing unit

2010-14: set up marketing and ecommerce departments at Bridgman to create retail perform

2015-19: as promoting director he aided to start Bridgman in Dubai, and opened 5 retail showrooms in Uk

2018: became founder and chief executive of Cosy

Life: Islington, London, with American spouse Lauren Hannifan, head of Snug’s 12-solid manufacturer staff.

Did you imagine you would get to wherever you are today?
Sure, I assume I did, for the reason that I was passionate, determined and had tons of suggestions.

When I was 7, I preferred to be an inventor. My more mature brother informed me inventing was not a position, but I assume getting an entrepreneur is as close as you can get. Then I needed to be an actor since I just beloved becoming on the phase, but for the duration of the A-degree psychology study course I turned fascinated in buyer psychology. That was my to start with authentic introduction to advertising and marketing and business strategy.

My grandfather, who died when I was in my early 20s, had owned home furnishings factories since the 1940s. My father was an accountant, but soon after he had experienced and labored for a yr, he set up a manufacturing facility generating cabinets for audiovisual hi-fi units. I preferred performing for my father. I loved knowing how matters were built, how devices were assembled and how individuals labored alongside one another.

How has the coronavirus pandemic influenced your small business?
As a mainly ecommerce company, we were being in a excellent position in March 2020. Individuals made a decision to make their properties more snug, and lookups for sofas on the internet shot up 50 for each cent overnight.

In the beginning, the lockdown was overpowering. Absolutely everyone seemed to me to know the answers, even though I was striving to determine out how to commence myself. I was juggling improved demand from customers, disrupted supplies and maintaining our staff bodily and mentally safe.

The very first detail was to deliver anyone residence and obtain new techniques of operating remotely. At the time we were sourcing goods from Asia, and every thing was stored in Enfield, in my father’s warehouse. At the time Covid strike, we realised there was heading to be source chain disruption, and in a few months we ran out of inventory three periods.

It took us a 12 months of research and enhancement to deliver producing to the British isles, near Liverpool. Our bricks and mortar competitors had to shut for four months. We experienced five concessions in Bridgman showrooms but no standalone merchants due to the fact gross sales shifted on the internet.

Previously, customers did not realize the advantages of obtaining a couch on-line, but we experienced to adjust the way we did business enterprise. We prolonged our demo time period from 30 to 100 days, so if you were not contented, we would collect the household furniture and problem a refund. We redeployed our eight retail staff members to set up on line online video consultations with shoppers.

Luckily for us, we have been able to supply a a single-man or woman shipping support. As you can assemble the product your self, we could leave it outside the house a entrance door, due to the fact at the time two-person deliveries have been not allowed.

Was your first £1mn a important milestone?
Sure, it was. In December 2020 we created just beneath £2mn profit, up from £18,000 the calendar year ahead of. My spouse Lauren gave me a personalised bottle of rum as a memento. I felt delighted, but income does not travel me.

What excites me is continuing to disrupt this sector, in which I am the 3rd generation in my spouse and children. I have browse that it is the 3rd generation who have been recognised to mess up the company, so I do have a point to demonstrate.

We reinvested all the things again into Snug. There were so numerous limitations that calendar year, we had a digital Christmas occasion for our staff. I hired a magician and despatched a cocktail present box to anyone.

What was the most tough period of your job?
It was getting the reverse engineering appropriate for the three-seater sofa, which I intended in collaboration with a furnishings technician.

We had to get the job done out how we could make it self-assembly, so that it could suit collectively and be taken apart in minutes without the need of any equipment. It was a huge headache. The style and ergonomics had been easy. The engineering to put it collectively with out needing any tools was extremely tough, and took about 9 months, from Could 2018 to February 2019. (The organization registered in May possibly 2018 and started buying and selling in March 2019.)

On my portion it was a labour of enjoy. I had two work. I was functioning at Bridgman as a internet marketing director and in my cost-free time I was making an attempt to start Cosy. Simultaneously we ended up creating the item, making a organization, and a new class, “sofa in a box”. The product comes in 12 parts — four frames, 4 cushions and 4 legs. It slots jointly, like pieces of Lego, in five minutes.

What did you sacrifice to start out the company?
Time, my financial savings and the means to protected a mortgage easily. I had labored working day and night, seven days a 7 days, for 4 several years. As banking institutions do not specifically back business owners, it took me just about a calendar year to get a home finance loan offer, last but not least from Handelsbanken, the Swedish lender. I ought to have approached 10 banking companies. Despite currently being a limited business, with 70 staff members, I was still considered to be self-utilized.

To get started Comfortable I utilized £15,000 of my savings. My father set in a further £15,000, as he is a shareholder. I bought 100 sofas and in the initial thirty day period we sold just one. Then we observed a way to market them as a result of Instagram. 6 months afterwards we were being promoting about 100 sofas a month. Currently they retail for all over £1,200.

What is the solution of your results?
Individuals obtain from us for velocity and benefit. Common household furniture firms have long supply moments, two to a few months, thanks to designed-to-order small business types. Snug styles, manufactures and shares products and solutions in the United kingdom, so we can supply as immediately as the subsequent working day.

We have designed a potent neighborhood all around our model, with a lot more than 250,000 followers on Fb, Instagram and TikTok, which is abnormal for a household furniture organization. On Black Friday previous calendar year we worked with comedian Katherine Ryan to stream a reside clearly show on Instagram. The occasion filled Wembley Arena and as a end result we experienced record couch income.

What was your most effective preparing for business?
As worker selection 12 at Bridgman, I was still left to figure out most items for myself. I was 21 and I did not have a immediate manager. I figured out about promoting, ecommerce and retailing via trial and error, studying and observing how other businesses outside the house the sector did it. My father could not help me so considerably, as his strengths are in finance, and the lawful and operations facet.

In 2010 I set up Bridgman’s very first ecommerce web site with a internet advancement agency. It took quite a few months, with a lot of problems and errors along the way. It was difficult then for the reason that handful of household furniture providers were being selling on the internet. Shops were being predominantly backyard garden centres, and likely down-market, picking out cheaper solutions for amplified turnover.

We did not want to reduce the high quality of our products and solutions, so we bought direct to shoppers through the site, and a single retail outlet in Enfield. We ended up a £2mn organization when I joined. By the time I left it was about £6mn.

What is your basic business enterprise philosophy?
I see Snug as a vehicle for good and a auto for adjust. We attempt to make it fun and remarkable to function in this article and are versatile with wherever and how persons operate. For us, just one of the primary advantages of working remotely implies we can faucet into national expertise swimming pools. Quite a few implement to us for roles via social media channels.

Do you want to have on till you fall?
Other folks have hobbies like sporting activities or art. Enterprise is my passion. I see myself functioning for a pretty lengthy time, with no options for retiring. What excites me is functioning toward setting up a international model. I hope to begin growth into Europe afterwards this year.

Have you designed any pension provision?
I begun a self-invested particular pension [Sipp] when I was 30. I talk about the investment decision approach and danger profile with my pension adviser. As I have an appetite for calculated hazard, I have preferred high-expansion providers in the undertaking capital and non-public fairness marketplaces. I have been spending a few of thousand a thirty day period into the Sipp. I carefully stick to the cryptocurrency and NFT [non-fungible token] marketplaces, but I have not invested into either yet.

Do you consider in offering one thing back to the community?
For the earlier 3 years we have labored with Disaster, the national homeless charity, and donated over £25,000. By means of Snug’s Christmas strategies we have helped to raise awareness, and more than enough cash to keep 1,200 homeless folks off the streets.

We assistance Eden Reforestation Jobs and have so considerably gifted 100,000 trees in Indonesia and Madagascar. At specific milestones on social media, we shell out for extra trees. When we strike 100,000 followers, our donation authorized the planting of 20,000 trees. Every single April, for Environment Earth Thirty day period, we operate competitions with our staff and social media group, to boost Eden Reforestation Assignments.

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