Jurgen Klanert is the CEO of Fabrooms, an interior designer firm based in Germany. The company, that has become the toast of his country in a short time, now plans to extend boundaries and cover all of Europe. But this successful stint with interior designing is just one aspect. Life was not exactly that easy for his family and they initially had to struggle a lot financially. Later after having studied at Oxford and Stanford, the young Jurgen tasted success in consulting. His work profile is envious; BMW, Deutsche Bank, Alliance, Accenture and several other conglomerates are just some of the big names that he has under his belt. Currently busy with the wood made-to-order furniture offerings with the logs of wood especially bought from Croatia, Jurgen Klanert is gearing to enthrall the luxury market with his goods. Talking exclusively to Namta Gupta, he opens up about his life and his work:
1. What made you dive into this business when the entire Europe in reeling under intense recession? Surely there could have been better timing…
Actually, most successful companies come out of recessions. Having said that, we in Germany are in a unique situation within Europe since we have not really been affected by the recession, I don’t even think we have one if you go by the GDP growth. Since we will be importing wood furniture from Croatia (who was accepted into the EU on the 1st of July) it was actually great timing.
2. The business model that you have is quite unique. What made you choose it? Do you think that such a model would work in the long run?
We are currently an advertising platform for shops and brands; there have been great examples where this has also worked, some of which are in Germany like Stylefruits or Stylight but also others in the US like Polyvore all of which have been successful. Currently being around the 12-15k unique users per month we are growing about 20% per month with visitors so we do see some substantial growth which in turn means we are doing something right.
3. Lifestyle products have a niche buyer segment, mostly because it caters to clients that have more purchasing power. But with growing economic prosperity in middle class do you think it is time that players like you should focus more on this segment.
Actually, the focus we have set are young parents who have grown out of their dorm furniture or accessories and are looking to either move into a larger apartment or house and need something of higher quality and also something that fits their lifestyle. I would say that we are gradually shifting our focus on middle-class at this point; it will become more apparent as soon as we offer our wooden furniture collection towards the end of 2013.
4. For a company that is so young, even if it is successful, expansion plans can be a bit too ambitious. Isn’t it?
Currently we are only focusing on the German, Austrian and Swiss markets… for now – this will probably stay this way for at least another 12 months, but as we move into new areas and are selling our own products we will definitely try and cater to other markets, it’s so easy to do that since in Europe the borders are slowly melting and it’s all becoming easier (shipping, tax, refunds…). We are thinking ahead.
5. Are you happy with the reception to your products so far?
Since we actually choose every single product we have on offer we try to only get the best of the bunch. We have about 500, 000 products we can choose (on an average) from but we have only chosen about 15000 out of this list because quite frankly most of the others just don’t make the cut.
6. How do you procure items?
Since we don’t actually sell products we don’t procure. Regarding our wood furniture line in Croatia, we have some great contacts there and some excellent wood – even wood that is about 120 years old out of which we have already made our first products with, my office table is made from this wood and I can tell you I love working on it!
7. What made you choose this profession?
Actually the funny thing is I am not an interior decorator and neither is my wife – but we both love interior decorating and we have friends that are interior decorators so it basically comes natural to us.
8. Did you ever think that your idea would be successful?
Definitely! I have a great team working with me, first and foremost my wife and then all the other great people, from designers…to I guess… everyone!
9. Now looking at the place where you stand. Are you satisfied with the growth?
I usually have really high expectations and I am very impatient so I would have to say no. But that doesn’t mean we are not growing phenomenally, as I already mentioned we are about 20% per month in traffic and about 200% in turnover.
10. What are your future plans?
To perfect what we have, keep our customers we have – that is the #1 goal. Our next major goal is our wood furniture made to measure; we are coming out with a few product lines as well… which I’m totally excited about.
(The author is a freelance writer.)