Every day at Makerversity is like watching the future being created in front of your very eyes. I’ve started the “A meeting with…” series to tell members’ own unique Makerversity stories and the serendipitous ways that pioneering innovation happens within our community…
fuzl flat pack no fuss furniture that clips together. No broken parts, no fibre-board, no screws, no plastic, no inserts, no glues, no tools…just clip it together with your hands!
I met Oliver, the Founder of fuzl and heard about his Makerversity journey
“Makerversity is not just a nice community, you have a diverse group of people, it’s quite subtle, it makes you think in different ways. I feel at my most innovative when walking around London; I walk here from home and always try to walk a different way to make me think. Makerversity is a bit like that; it’s changing all the time, for example there was a company here that was making wood replacement materials out of pulped potato starch. It keeps your mind active and excited about what else there might be. I’m thinking about the way we want to do packaging, here there are lots of different ways on show. Office environments are often sterile, the same space, goals and innovation slows, people are bored! At Makerversity you’ll never find Facebook open!
What brought me here was I was working with a company travelling backwards and forward from Glasgow. The train drudgery frustrated me and I thought how have I come to this? I’d left design, which I loved, behind in the mid 2000s and travelled further and further away from it. One day I had an idea on the train to build furniture. My wife and I had a new place, but no furniture, we didn’t like anything. My wife was supportive that I return to design and I began to draw furniture on the train while I was still doing my old job; but I didn’t know how to assemble or take it apart easily. Then, I got back in contact with a Danish company producing sustainable, reusable packaging clips and negotiated a deal to be their exclusive furniture licensee worldwide. They invested a substantial amount of money via in-kind R&D support for equity.
I wanted to gain some external validation for fuzl and the products and approach we had developed. So, I whimsically applied to the Design Council Spark programme and achieved a runner-up place within the top 5 companies, securing some funding. Ding, another Makerversity member did really well.
“I wouldn’t have found out about the Spark programme or have been able to get external validation if it wasn’t for Makerversity, it really is an exceptional community, without being here it just wouldn’t have happened. People are really willing to interact, some people are a bit more background but that’s still a very high level! It’s a very interested, cohesive place. There’s the real world, then there’s an odd place called Makerversity!”
I’m now live with a pop-up store sponsored by Spark at Folk Clothing on Lambs Conduit St and am still working to perfect my manufacturing. My Danish partner and I are passionate about local manufacture and so have been working on bringing our manufacture back to the UK and are making great progress there. Another member Stu, from Out of Order Design suggested a manufacturer he knew, who is proving to be awesome…We are also trying to change the way flat pack is delivered, so as to remove all plastic packaging from our delivery processes. I developed a custom canvass bag, sewn in calico by myself, using a You Tube tutorial; there’s lots wrong with it. I’m not a fashion designer! However, I’ve commissioned Billy another Makerversity member to make the bag prototypes. And with these bags we intend to make as much of the final couple of miles of delivery by pedal power rather than standard couriers.
“I’m now at the point in the fuzl journey where I’m going to launch a Kickstarter campaign so we can scale our production and go onto the next stage. fuzl is looking to raise money for a seed investment of £150k at a £600k valuation which will qualify for SEIS.”
Many companies don’t know that the most attractive tax relief they can offer early stage investors is only within the first 2 years of incorporation, after which the opportunity is missed. It would be good for the Makerversity community to have more knowledge sharing about fundraising. It would be nice to have the Makerversity equivalent of angel investors/backers who have sympathy with what people in this community are doing.
“In 5 years’ time I’d still want Makerversity to be as it is, a cohesive community; it feels like there’s nothing like it anywhere else, it’s completely unique – something about this place effortlessly gets it right!”
Check out Oliver’s fuzl Kickstarter campaign here.