A Dunedin start-up solved the nightmare of organising flat furniture – and cracking up students while doing it.
Former Otago University students Angus Syme and Cameron Leigh co-founded The FlatPack Company in their first year at Cumberland College residential hall in 2018.
Their business is about taking the ‘fladmin’ – flat admin – out of flatting by delivering students their beds on move-in day.
The products came in cardboard boxes that stood no taller than the founders themselves and took merely 15 minutes to assemble.
Leigh and Syme said they took a shot after identifying a gap in the market they themselves belonged to.
Syme said he and Leigh bought second-hand beds sold them to students in Cumberland, Arana and Unicol residential halls. Once that took off, they pursued buying brand-new beds, contacting manufacturers in China and Malaysia to find affordable bedding.
With little business experience apart from the accounting and finance degrees Leigh and Symes were respectively studying at the time, there was much trial and error.
The pair had $5000 to start the business and did a giveaway of $1000 in its first month. The gamble paid off, with the company going from supplying 30 beds in its first to nearly 3000 this year.
Symes and Leigh attributed most of their success to marketing.
They hired their flatmates Bryn Fredheim and Ryan Forlong to film the giveaway video, which went viral. Mr Furlong said making the videos was lots of fun. The videos included a Wild West stand-off, taekwondo on the beach, and a gymnastics floor routine.
The marketing team, along with Syme, flat in the Transit House, which is now the backdrop for many of the viral creations in the videos.
Syme also attributed the success of the business to Dunedin’s unique culture. He said students were accepting like no others of those willing to get out there and do something.