Increasing urbanization means rising rents. As the square meter becomes a more and more valuable resource, we developed a solution to end the waste of space inside our homes and offices. Floating Office increases the utility of a square meter to its maximum with a zero-effort user experience.
In the middle of 2019, we went through a pilot phase with first paying customers from different areas (coworking, retail, regular office). Since the end of 2019 we collect pre-orders and perform the final testing phase.
In the overcrowded cities, where building land is becoming scarcer and housing more expensive, small apartments that provide all the essentials on minimal space and in a central location are becoming increasingly popular. Micro-apartments are particularly in demand among single households, such as young professionals and commuters. As in all wealthy countries, the number of single households is increasing. Taking our country as an example, almost every fifth inhabitant now lives alone; in large cities it is even one in two. Vertical use of space also offers added value for offices and modern working environments. As a symbol of the new work movement, coworking in particular benefits fr om this new flexibility. The range of individual workplaces in coworking spaces is often supplemented by the organization of events such as lectures, meetups or workshops. Wh ere previously it was necessary to rent additional event space or laboriously move the tables, Floating Office offers free space at the push of a button.
Problem or Opportunity
Due to increasing urbanization, living space becomes a more and more scarce and thus expensive resource. This leads to a worldwide increasing number of small apartments. Until now, residents of these micro apartments had to make compromises when it comes to furnishing by choosing between small or inconvenient space-saving solutions. Floating Office has created a solution to combine full size and full-fledged furniture with zero-effort flexibility for the first time
Solution (product or service)
Floating Office develops technology which aims to maximize the efficient usage of the available living/working space in big cities. By storing temporarily unused furniture like desks, beds, and shelves under the ceiling, multifunctional room usage is created. The furniture is suspended from the ceiling with a patent pending rope system. By the push of a button furniture will disappear within seconds, freeing up space and consuming exactly 0 square meters.
The technology was integrated as a first use case into the stand-up workstation NOLEX. A desk that only consumes space when in use serves as an ideal application, since space must be used efficiently in both companies and home offices. New forms of work in the office call for flexible work areas and the consequences of urbanization make a separate study at home rarely possible. After launching NOLEX on the market in 2020, the product portfolio will be expanded one year after and the technology integrated into additional furniture such as beds, storage space, etc. With this, every living and working scenario can be flexibly designed and the full potential behind space saving furniture can be exploited.
Non-electric substitutes for space saving solutions are broadly available. In this case, the following example can be given: The Canadian online retailer "Expand Furniture" serves as a synonym for space-saving furniture concepts with an annual turnover of approx. USD 4.6 million. So far, Expand Furniture has only been selling non-electrified multifunctional furniture, which can be seen as the main disadvantage for the practicability of these solutions. Saving space by rearranging furniture is always difficult in this way. E.g. folding beds or folding tables must be completely cleaned up before they can be transformed by your own muscle strength.
The North American startup "Ori Living", which sells sliding wardrobe systems and currently generates sales of around USD 6.5 million, has shown that electrified furniture concepts can also be successful in large numbers. The final round of financing (Series B) was $ 20 million (total $ 27.1 million since 2015). In the sense of vertical space use, the company develops a bed that disappears on a rail system under the ceiling.
The Californian startup “Bumblebee Spaces” has the greatest technical resemblance to the concept of floating office, which develops hanging furniture (bed, storage space, cupboards) that, if necessary, disappears under the ceiling. However, this design of the furniture only allows solutions for entire rooms that are difficult to sell directly to individual customers. In its last round of financing, the startup raised approximately $ 18 million (a total of $ 23 million since 2018).
Advantages or differentiators
The primary goal and biggest distinguishing feature of Floating Office is its simplicity of technical implementation. From the point of view of the customer, the installation and use of the furniture are reduced to the minimum. For example, we integrated the entire power train of the NOLEX-desk into the table body, which means that only four screws on the ceiling are required for installation. No heavy components need to be transported to the ceiling and everything can be done just by one person. In this regard, Floating Office, with its simple suspension and its suitability for different sales channels (B2B, B2C) and online shipping, is superior to other product concepts such as the following.
recommended selling price NOLEX: 3.360 EUR
purchase price (retailers, developers): 2.499 - 2.899 EUR
plus: individual power supply (+70 EUR), individual decor (+1.210 EUR), installation service (+252 EUR), shipping (+94 - 221 EUR; GER, AUT, CHE, NLD, BEL, LUX)
all prices net
In order to generate the greatest possible profit margins, we will initially sell the product directly to our customers targeting B2C distribution at first. As experience shows, both offline (sales fairs) and online (webshop) channels can generate enough customer attention to enable our sales goals. In order to enhance further growth, we seek collaboration with architects and property developers which enables higher sales volumes per deal. We see our self-developed technology and it’s intellectual ownership just as an outcome of great work. We obviously will generate more IP in future. However, it’s a great team which makes the difference between some progress and great innovation - just like in the past, we will work only with the best people and concentrate our workforce on sales and product development. Floating Office aims to position itself as a manager of the value stream beginning with the production process and ending with customer satisfaction. Our goal is to work closer to the customer and therefore outsource the entire production process in order to maintain flexibility, lower overhead costs and drive quicker internationalization. Due to starting with a high price product (user price of 3.990€), the key goal of the operations in the next 3 years is to significantly lower the unit costs. With this, Floating Office will be able to compete in projects of higher relevance and open its portfolio for a broad customer group. We aim to keep high overhead costs structures such as production, logistics or accounting outsourced and therefore maintain close contact with our customers.
Money will be spent on
Product development (36%)
Offer for investor
shares depending on network, know how, type of investor
The strong differentiation of Floating Office also entails risks. Empirical values of conventional sit-stand desks cannot be transferred directly and thus increase the risk of one not optimal, initial market placement. The market entry in the furniture industry is also particularly for Startups difficult. Large companies usually have lengthy set-up cycles. They also commission Interior decorators who usually rely on a proven and reduced portfolio of manufacturers. Experience shows that it can be complex to put your brand in the focus of the outfitter. By the Interest among others Quadro office GmbH & Co.KG Rhein-Main and Bürodesign Nejedly GmbH however, initial contacts have already been established with the market and access to further potential through their network Partners.
Incubation/Acceleration programs accomplishment
ESA business incubation (Darmstadt, 12.2017-12.2019)
EXIST Gründerstipendium (10.2018-09.2019)
Hessen Ideen Stipendium (04.2018-09.2018)
Won the competition and other awards
- Kultur- und Kreativpiloten 2017
- Upgrade Award 2019