Jo & Nick are the founders of Bedfolk. Their initial inspiration came from a confusing, dull and expensive experience when buying bedding. Research drew them into a huge market (£2 billion per annum), that is fragmented (market leader John Lewis only has 8.7% market share), resting on its laurels (uninspiring stacks of plastic-wrapped products all looking the same) and is underserving consumers (thread count is well quoted but misleading mark of quality). All the conditions to give space to an innovative new market entrant.

So Bedfolk was born and now offer the best bedding essentials on the market, direct from an artisan Portuguese mill, at a price that doesn’t break the bank. The first step towards a complete home textiles offer.

Stellar, rapid growth

The Start-Up Series Fund first invested in April 2019, when the business had their first three cotton product styles – relaxed, classic & luxe – and £6k per month in sales.

Since then the growth has been dramatic. Now achieving over £1/4 million per month revenue (both November and December 2020). They have successfully developed and launched new products, with linen alongside the original cotton bedding, and luxurious quits & throws that are perfect for getting cosy in bed, snuggling on the sofa or for a loving gift.

Jo & Nick have proven they have a brand that resonates, and have created a marketing engine that gets the message out effectively and recruits customers economically – with each customer being gross margin positive even after just one purchase.

There is just as much happening backstage, creating an innovative operating model that delivers competitive advantage. For example, a studio built on the mezzanine level of their fulfilment centre to enable rapid, regular, low cost & high quality imagery, a driver of engagement & conversion on Instagram, Pinterest and in their popular newsletters.

As the business grew and relentlessly hit the milestones set, The Start-Up Series Fund followed up it’s initial investment with further funding in August 2019, November 2019 & April 2020 – to a total of £400k

Hands on help

Hands on help

Investment from the Start-Up Series Fund, came with the promise of expertise, experience, battlescars and effort from Worth Capital, the commercial advisers to the Fund.

As a youngster (a long time ago), Matthew Cushen was Category Manager for Homewares for Woolworths and then responsible for re-engineering the supply chain for the whole John Lewis Department Stores business, at the time the two leading bedding retailers. So he was a natural choice to become a board director and help Jo & Nick.

Full day or half day board meetings every six weeks are the chance to review, identify risks, create different strategic choices, make decisions and set priorities. Matthew helps Jo & Nick to look up to the horizon to plot where the business is going, challenge their thinking, and build confidence in their plan.

Sometimes things move so fast, hands on help is required. For example, bedding is a complex category, whilst looking simple to customers, behind the scenes are 275 different ‘stock keeping units’ – different styles, colours & sizes. And hyper sales growth could lead to out of stocks. So Matthew helped Nick to identify inventory risks, some ways to improve the responsiveness of suppliers and even looked back at some forecasting textbooks to built a forecasting and ordering model to give visibility and increase the accuracy of ordering. Between them they rapidly wrestled control of availability whilst protecting working capital deployment.

Jo & Nick reflect...

“We couldn’t have asked for a better investor than the Start-Up Series Fund or a better non-exec than Matthew. What stands out is the sounding-board, incisive questioning, knowledge, intuition, network of contacts and hands on support he, the Start-Up Series Fund and Worth Capital together all provide. This has been completely invaluable in helping us make the right decisions, at the right time, supporting and facilitating our rapid growth.”

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