On the up · 3 September 2018

“University can act as a barrier to starting a business” says Furniturebox co-founder

This pair of young founders and best friends started their own business selling contemporary furniture at  competitive prices and within their first year of trading turned over in excess of £1m.

The online furniture retailing business, Furniturebox, was co-founded by 21-year-olds Dan Beckles and Monty George.

As part of our Young Entrepreneurs series, we caught up with Beckles to find out how it all started.

What inspired you to start your own business?

The inspiration to start the business came from a desire to run our own business.

My colleague Monty had been selling on eBay since the age of 12 with various different business ventures throughout, whilst I started working at the age of 15 and throughout school held down three jobs at the same time whilst still studying and achieving good grades.

The furniture market was a market that was relatively new on selling platforms and therefore we saw an opportunity to become front runners on these platforms and took this opportunity with both hands.

How did you fund your business?

One of the big barriers to starting a business as a young person is funding. As a young person it is often extremely difficult to fund a start up company unless you have the support from investors or family meaning that lots of young people may have a good idea but lack the funding to pursue this idea and start their business.

I also believe University can act as a barrier to starting a business as being heavily invested in a course can hugely limit your time and also money to start and run a successful business.

Luckily over the course of Monty’s selling career on eBay we had sufficient funds to order the first furniture container and after the first container had sold we ordered another, and so on and so forth.

Keeping very low overheads we soon managed to build our revenues, expanding our product range and company at a rapid rate.

What do you think the younger generation can bring to the business world?

I believe the younger generation can bring huge drive and fresh energy to the business world and also a new outlook on the increasingly predominant internet market.

Being younger we have had a much better understanding of modern technologies and the modern market meaning we have managed to rapidly grow on all selling platforms.

I also believe the younger generation are prepared to take bigger risks, potentially leading to a greater return.

Starting a business young means you often do not have concerns such as a mortgage or a family to feed and therefore if you make a mistake this may not have such large implications for you, leading to increased ambition amongst the younger generation.

Will you ever work a 9-5 job?

I think I would find it extremely difficult to work a 9-5 job now as I believe once you get a taste for success and the entrepreneurial zeal you will always strive to succeed in new business ventures.

For the past three years we have both worked almost 365 days a year without break, often working from 7 in the morning until 8/9 in the evening.

This however is a sacrifice you have to make and one that has paid off for us both.

Is a degree a necessity?

I think a degree can be good in many ways however neither myself or Monty have a degree and yet we have been successful in running our business without one.

I think it is a common misconception that a degree will provide you will all the knowledge you need to do well however we have gained far more knowledge in three years of running our own business than we would have by studying for a degree in business. 

What tips do you have for other young people wanting to start their own business?

The tips I have are to ask for advice from friends or family who run their own businesses- this can often be invaluable.

Furthermore I think a great bit of advice is don’t be afraid to not succeed. Things may not always go well however if you have drive you can bounce back and make a success of yourself.

Who is your celebrity icon?

Anthony Joshua. Both personality wise and in a sporting perspective I think he is a brilliant example for all, especially young people. He is extremely humble for a public figure and is extremely driven and dedicated to his sport, meaning that he has become the best in the world.

He has also started from nothing and through shear hard work he has driven his way to the top which is something I admire and I think others can aspire to do.

What app do you use the most?

The Amazon seller app! This actually allows me to work on the go so I would say this is the most used application!

Outside of this I like using Instagram to see what friends/family are up to.

Where do you see yourself at 50?

At 50 I would hope to have made Furniturebox into an online furniture retailing giant, able to compete with the likes of furniture village, Ikea, etc.

I would also like to think that I would have started up and made a success of many other businesses by the age of 50. 

What song should be your life anthem?

Notorious BIG – Mo Money Mo Problems. The reason I believe this should be my life anthem is because it’s a fun upbeat song that translates to the fact that money does not solve all of your problems!

I believe this is true as you have to do what you love and you’re passionate about and if you can find something that also makes you money from this then you’re on to a winner!

Netflix or night out?

Definitely a night out! Work hard, play hard.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Carly Hacon is a reporter for Business Advice. She has a BA in journalism from Kingston University, and has previously worked as a features editor for a local newspaper.

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