The start-up taking the heavy lifting out of new furniture

Dean Kelly

For many of us, the thought of getting up on a Saturday to go furniture shopping is exasperating but thanks to Zanui, Australians can finally furnish their home with just a few clicks of a mouse.

A little over a year has passed since Dean Kelly and Joakim Broms transformed Zanui from a mere concept to a commercial reality, becoming Australia’s first online store for furniture and homewares.

Zanui began as a concept in September 2011 after Kelly, Broms and a group of investors recognised a significant gap in the online retail market, particularly in the furniture and homewares market. While most online stores rely on heavy discounting for its appeal, Zanui is different in that it provides aspirational, branded furniture and homewares at competitive prices.

“We are currently filling a gap in the market, and providing customers with a service that doesn’t really exist online – a one stop shop to furnish their home online. Not discounted items, not end of season items, but aspirational, branded furniture and homewares that they can select from a wide range, and not blow their budget,” said Kelly.

Overcoming the obstacles that burden many start-ups, Zanui has achieved enormous success since its launch. Today, this Australian company features over 650 brands including entire product range offerings from Maxwell and Williams, with 16,000 products across furniture and homewares. In its first year of trading, Zanui.com.au peaked at an average of 300,000 visits per month.

“Australians are changing the way they buy their furniture and homewares – people want this product available online, no one wants to wait in long queues whilst shopping, they want choice, and they want it delivered to their doorstep, and that is what we are providing our customers – not only inspirational products, but inspirational ideas to furnish their home.”

Kelly, learning from his experience, believes one of the most crucial skills an entrepreneur must have is to be able to think on her feet and adapt quickly to change.

“What I see potentially as the biggest risk for a start-up is not making decisions quick enough – if you start going down one path, and it doesn’t appear to be working, or you realise you have made a mistake, you need to have the smarts and confidence to accept it, and change direction quickly and adapt.”

After leaving the corporate world of Management Consulting and Investment Banking behind, Kelly and Broms have overseen the rapid expansion from a two-person operation to a thriving business with over 50 staff. His one piece of advice to other start-ups and potential start-up entrepreneurs is to not be afraid to make a career change if they have an idea that they truly believe in.

“Don’t be afraid to leave a career path you are comfortable in, if you genuinely believe in an idea. The difference between entrepreneurs and others is largely that entrepreneurs are do-ers. People think of things all the time – entrepreneurs act on these thoughts.”