Meet: Nathan, aiBox
What's the story behind aiBox? What's your background in, and how did it take you to aiBox
My background is pretty varied - everything from restaurateur to entrepreneur - but it always boils down to the same thing: in my short career thus far, I’ve always found ways to bring the best out of products & services and deliver it to the masses, in an affordable, easy to reach and fun way. That means being clever about design, operations and sourcing materials. I'm doing the same with aiBox – our mission is to transform the workspace of professionals in both home & office and launch a really streamlined company that's clever about selecting and sourcing materials, innovative product design and with a great team behind it.
What inspired you to get started with the business - what was the "light bulb" moment for you?
Well the truth is, I wanted a standing desk for myself. In my previous role I was either sat in the office or on the road in the car for 10+ hours, and at 26 years old, it was already starting to take its toll on my back & body. I knew I couldn’t do it for another 30+ years! I’d seen standing desks before in blue-chip corporate environments, so, I just wanted one.
The problem was, none of the commercially available ones were floating my boat. For the most part they were stupidly expensive, aimed at large corporates costing 4-figure sums. And the cheaper flat-pack alternatives were cheap, but not in the sense of value for money.
So aiBox was born. I wanted my own standing desk, and thought I thought if was put off by the poor offering on the market and overpriced corporate sector range, than other professionals and freelancers would be too. The standing desk was just the start, and now the team are working on affordable, sustainable, smart design solutions across a broad range, that we hope will fill a need for a lot of people. The rest just fell into place.
What is the passion and interest that really drives you - what gets you out of bed and into aiBox HQ?
aiBox grew from a love of design, a love of product. The standing desk got us off our butts and on our feet (literally and figuratively) hence we'll continue to think outside the box.
And what are the biggest obstacles you have faced in your journey to do this?
Probably the same thing all entrepreneurs face, especially in start-ups; the product/service development. It’s an ongoing battle and constant spinning of plates to get the product right, and ready for market.
When I started aiBox – the everyday material of cardboard seemed great. An innovative material, easy to work with, economically viable to set up, readily available for prototype and scaled, lightweight & portable and also eco-friendly being 100% recyclable. I thought great – ‘Eureka’ moment. But quickly each unique selling point started to throw up its own individual hurdle... Who knew that cardboard could be recyclable up to 20-times?! With our passion & love for design & product, it was imperative that we put the product at the heart of the business and made sure it was right.
Hence as we speak, I’m still using prototype 1 in my own workspace, but finally after several months of development, we are happy to say we are now shipping our first production run out to customers!
You can get 10% of aiBox furniture for your home and office using the code:
Nathan was one of the first to get a Curve Mastercard® - you could say he has a thing for 'cards' of different types!
And yes – it’s benefitted me immensely, both financially & administratively. Being a boot-strapped start-up, I know the importance of keeping on-top of the finances. When sales are rolling in, it’s all good and well. But when you pre-launch, your limited cash resources only go one way. We have taken advantage of most if not all of Curve’s features. The itemisation of spending is great, I can track our outgoings on a daily basis in real-time and see exactly what is going where, how often. Exporting this report too is also handy in reconciling the finances at the end of the month.
Being a boot-strapped start-up, I know the importance of keeping on-top of the finances.
The ability to switch between all available cards is also key in our cash-flow battle. When your boot-strapping, cash funds in the bank quickly deplete, credit card limits are rapidly reached so now I can keep all our suppliers & subscriptions happy using one card which I can easily switch the payment method between credit cards with a simple tap of the Curve App. It also means our team don’t need to remember (or write down!) multiple card details day-to-day expenses.
The one final benefit which is just I’m yet to count up how much it has saved us, is foreign exchange. A large majority of our suppliers and subscriptions charge in local currencies, such as USD $ or Euro €. Post-Brexit rates have been appalling and prior to curve, my credit card was getting hit by some hefty 3% charges and outrageous exchange rates on other services. Now using Curve, I feel safe & secure knowing that our spiralling day-to-day expenses are getting the best rates.
Do you have any tips for other entrepreneurs or people in a similar position to you? Even those working and going, as you say, from beach to bar to boardroom?
I’m a big believer in the importance of mindset to success & results, in both in personal & professional life. Hence when I developed aiBox, I was on a personal mission to fine-tune my own mindset in my work space; boosting creativity by working wherever, improving health by promoting circulation & posture as well as just working differently. The standing desk was a tool for me, but the overall goal was to enhance my mindset in work.
Any tips - just pick up, stand up, and get out there. The world is an ever-changing place, full of opportunities & when you’re up and about and working differently, you're embracing those opportunities.