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Step-by-Step: How Ergonofis Established the Sit-Stand Desk Market in Canada

Ergonofis is on pace to make $2.3m this year, growing at 50%.

5 Minute Read

The name Ergonofis represents a hybrid between ergonomics and office. It fits: Co-founder Samuel Finn likes to think his company’s product, an adjustable desk allowing people to stand and sit throughout the day, provides the most efficient way to stay healthy and get through a work day.  

Finn started the company with Kimberley Pontbriand. Four years in, Ergonofis is on pace to make about $2.3m this year and its sales are up about 50% YoY. 

This is how Ergonofis figured out how to design a prototype, build a D2C following, market and grow.

The idea phase

Finn had recently finished a hockey career and was working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. He realized that sitting all day was terrible for his body. Unaware that standing desks existed, Finn placed old car tires under his regular desk to create his own. He would spend the day switching between his makeshift standing desk and a sitting desk. He thought the variability was the best for his health. 

“The perfect posture is the one you’re not in right now,” Finn says. “Your blood flow slows down when sitting and when standing I could hear my body slumping and I could feel my joints and knees.”

  • Differentiation: Ergonofis launched in Canada. At the time, sit-stand desks were rising in popularity in Europe and California but were not nearly as common in the rest of North America. 

First steps 

Finn used internet research to find a firm in California that made standing desks and contacted that firm. It wouldn’t let him buy and distribute its product. A firm in Quebec wasn’t interested in either. 

So Finn decided Ergonofis would have to make its own desks. He relied on the many connections he had made in his life and finally heard about a manufacturer who had the knowledge to pull off a sit-stand desk that has a motor. 

  • First spend: Finn and his business partner needed $50k to start the company. The money came from savings. Most of it went to building a website and designing a prototype for the desk. 
  • Utilizing an office: Despite choosing to emphasize ecommerce sales, Ergonofis leased a small office to showcase prototypes and educate its potential audience. 

Designing and building the product   

Although Finn and Pontbriand did not have a design background, they built their own design ideas. The manufacturers they found were able to supplement their sketches. It took multiple prototypes and more than 6 months of work before they settled on a design. 

Samuel Finn and Kimberley Pontbriand, co-founders of Ergonofis

Early marketing 

Ergonofis benefitted from early coverage in Quebec media. As soon as a local magazine published an article about the business, Finn recalls getting a sale seconds later. 

But customer experience became their best marketing technique. In the earliest days, Finn and Pontbriand would often deliver the desks and personally install them. 

One time, there was a sale at a location close to the office around 11am. An hour later, Finn had arrived with the desk, ready to install. “They would love our story and us and start telling about us to friends and family,” Finn says.

Growth rates 

The organic marketing worked: Ergonofis broke even its first year, making about $286k. The next year, it grew about 300%, to nearly $1m. Then its revenue increased to $1.6m. Now in its fourth year, Ergonofis is on track to grow at 50% and make about $2.3m.

  • A major key to growth: Finn and Pontbriand did not pay themselves a salary in the first two years. Instead, they used early profits to hire a third employee and a part-timer to help fulfill orders. They also used cash to invest in product development. 

A D2C mistake

The early plan for Ergonofis was to focus completely on direct-to-consumer sales. But looking back, Finn says the business would have tried to partner with key distributors early on.

Recently, Ergonofis made these partnerships to provide greater amounts of product to bigger clients like banks and law firms. It is still focused on D2C for regular consumer sales. 

Next steps

In addition to partnering with distributors for big clients, Ergonofis has been dabbling with influencers to gets its product seen on social media. Why? Because the company found its conversion rate for customers at its store was nearly 99%. If people who saw the products in person instantly wanted to buy them, Ergonofis figures it can find business from people who see the desks on YouTube and Instagram, too. 

There are also more competitors in the sit-stand desk space now. But Finn believes Ergonofis stands out with quality.

“Everyone is trying to share a cheaper sit-stand desk these days,” he says. “There’s very little competition in trying to sell a premium desk.”

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