In 2018, Article.com was named Canada’s fastest growing company.
And at a 5-year revenue growth rate of 12556% (no, we didn’t forget a decimal) it maintained that spot in 2019, and remained in the top 5 in 2020[*].
With annual revenue in the bracket of $200-$500 Million and over 400 employees, Article is a Canadian startup success story for the ages.
The Story of Article.com’s Massive Growth
“It was Christmas Eve 2015 when we got served with an injunction against us to cease operating under the Bryght name in the US. That was the day that I learned a little bit about trademark law in the United States.” -Andy
That was Andy’s response when asked about how the company got the name Article.
Article, originally Bryght Furniture, was founded by four college engineering buddies - Aamir Baig, Andy Prochazka, Sam Prochazka and Fraser Hall, in 2013.
Aamir was able to chat with the owner of the Bright Furniture trademark in New York and resolve the injunction without having to escalate to court. 90 days later, Article was born.
From Failure to Growth: The Founder’s Story
As entrepreneurs, both Aamir and Andy have quite a few scars from failure.
Back to 2011 when the world was still reeling from the financial crisis of 2008, Andy was working with his brother Sam in Edmonton.
“We were at the time in real estate real estate software business so you can imagine what the subprime mortgage crisis did to that business- we were just hemorrhaging customers it was terrible” - Andy
Meanwhile in Vancouver, Aamir had just sold a tech company and was doing pretty well. He was looking for something new, so when Aamir got a call from Andy with a business idea, he jumped on a plane to Edmonton.
“We parked ourselves at a booth in an IHOP and we sketched out this fill the container model. We convinced ourselves that this was a revolutionary idea.” - Andy
The first version of the company started off as a business that let you fill a shipping container as a cost effective way of shipping overseas. It turns out that the easiest way to fill a shipping container is with furniture.
“We had quite a few failed names before we landed on Article. We had Trade Mango Solutions, Fill the Container, Bryght Furniture, and ultimately Article.” - Andy
Fast forward to a decade later - Article is now a huge direct to consumer e-commerce brand with global recognition for disrupting the furniture space.
Article’s Growth Strategy
Article has been growing rapidly since 2013.
Their growth strategy uses engineering to optimize their onsite conversion funnel. By utilizing data rich feedback loops and customer reviews, Article has been able to deliver a consistent high quality brand experience to its customers.
The company uses software that allows them to collect data on their customer demographics, best-selling items, the number of purchases, clicks, and “add to cart” transactions made on the website. They use this information to help them make informed decisions.
The team reads through customer reviews and feedback every week. This data is extremely useful for indicating which designs are resonating best with customers and how they can improve the customer experience.
Article has also managed to cut down their delivery time to 2 weeks or less with a damage rate of less than 0.3%.
This is unheard of in the furniture industry.
Even for massive multinational furniture brands like IKEA.
“A massive amount of investment in Article went into building its supply chain. Interestingly enough we now average substantially lower damage rates than local people delivering furniture.” - Aamir
When the pandemic hit in 2020, it forced people to spend a lot more time inside their homes. Subsequently, people started to turn their homes into their sanctuary by upgrading their furniture. But they couldn't go into showrooms to do so.
“The industry truth and was that you need those showrooms to show the product and sales people on the floors because that’s how the home furnishing industry has traditionally been” - Aamir
Article replaced showrooms with reviews and user generated content to provide social proof of the quality of their products to new and returning customers. This type of content marketing is great for establishing trust among consumers.
If the social proof wasn’t enough, Article clearly displays their value proposition on the website to set themselves apart from other competitors.
This is where Article had the advantage. While many furniture businesses were scrambling to improve their online experience or even get online at all, Article was already delivering a consistent brand experience solely online.
A killer growth strategy combined with the demand for pandemic redecorations led to Article having its biggest sales ever in April of 2020. Their revenue grew by 70% that year alone.
Key learnings from Article:
1. Fail inexpensively. The lessons you learn from failure are instrumental in propelling you to growth. Run nimble experiments and adjust accordingly.
“Fail inexpensively is a term that I use internally so that you have enough of a runway to finally find something that clicks” - Aamir
2. Let the data lead you. Being data driven and customer focused has enabled Article to identify key growth opportunities that have led to their success.
3. Hold on and push through. When times get tough, don’t let that discourage you from venturing towards your dreams.
“It's about maintaining a positive optimistic mindset in the face of adversity” -Aamir