With a career in outdoor furniture, Michael Merritt spotted a gap in the market for a luxury piece of furniture several people could use together – and so, TiiPii Bed was born…
What is it the company does?
Our company has designed a new concept of transportable floating beds / hammocks called the TiiPii Bed. Under this brand TiiPii we are now designing an ever-evolving range of luxury lifestyle products that inspire people to relax and spend quality time with loved ones. Whether used in the comfort of their own home, taken on holiday or simply perched up at the park or the beach for the day, they encourage people to take back their clock, chill out and essentially just ‘be’.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words
My role is to oversee all functions in the business with a particular focus on operations, sales and marketing. Being the MD of a start-up means there’s never a dull moment or a week working with conventional hours. I constantly wear a number of hats to keep the business ticking along. This involves not only planning and overseeing all departments in the company from product design, logistics, customer service, sales and marketing, but also actively working in and managing the day-to-day running of the business to ensure we always stay on track and deliver a quality product every single time.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
After University I started my career in 2002 in Sales and Marketing for an events company with venues in Melbourne’s Crown Casino. This was my gateway into selling face-to-face and working with large clients and other business owners. Essentially this is where I found my passion, not necessarily in selling and marketing events, but working to develop a business through strategic sales and marketing practices.
I took these skills overseas to London and worked in various industries as a Business Development and Operations Manager, before returning to Australia in 2010 to start my own company designing and selling a unique range of outdoor furniture pieces. This business came about by teaming up with my current business partner who had experience is sourcing and design, and my partner who was also a designer.
After 5 years of being in the industry and a lot of R&D, customer feedback and lessons learnt, we decided to get to the drawing board and design our own luxury brand as we could see a gap in the market. Inspired by past and current travels, we aimed to design a unique piece of furniture that could accommodate several people at once to enjoy.
We wanted it to have a clear focus aesthetically on embodying that heavenly ‘holiday’ feeling that we all have when exploring the world. It also had to be something that was easily packed down and transportable, so it could be taken with you on adventures and breaks away and not just enjoyed as a static piece at home. Essentially we started with the above and worked backwards... And almost 6 months later, the first prototype of TiiPii was born.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
The biggest challenge in my current position is scaling the business to it’s full potential. Selling a tangible product means we need to physically produce it before we can capitalise on the profits that product will return. As we grow the business and expand the range we need to ensure we maintain enough capital in the business to grow and scale to meet our market demands. As they say in most industries, ‘cash is king’ and we are no exception.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
Being the MD of a growing company doesn’t come with out many stresses. It is quite easy to work through your days and weeks with very little breaks. However taking time away from the business is important. I think having a morning routine of fitness is key to alleviating stress and starting your day with a clear and focused mind. I find going for a run or a good gym session before heading into the office whenever possible is key to a productive and manageable day.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a pilot! My dad worked in the industry and I thought it would be a great way to see the world. I never did manage to pursue my piloting career; however travelling to different countries and immersing myself in diverse cultures around the world will always be one of favourite things to do.
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
Generally speaking, I’m not a big fan of people eating lunch at their desks. I think it’s important to step away, clear your head and take a break- and lunchtime is the perfect time to do this. Although people may not feel as though they have time to, it’s imperative to be able to keep your mind and body focused. After all, the best time to relax is usually when you don’t have time for it!
I’m a stickler for efficiency in the work place, but this also comes with looking after yourself and the others around you. If it’s all getting on top of you, I’m a big ambassador of stepping away, having a cuppa, a walk around the block or nipping to the gym to rebalance. You’ll come back every time feeling revived and ready for the next stage of the day as opposed to getting flustered and overwhelmed for hours.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
I see the company being a leader in quality luxury lifestyle furniture and accessories in a variety of markets around the world. We are aiming to not only lead the way in luxury floating beds and hammocks for the residential market, but also provide a quality range of products for commercial markets such as hotels & resorts, events, weddings, retreats and more…
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
I think you have to back yourself and act quickly when you have an inspirational idea that is going to make a positive difference in people’s lives. Of course it’s always imperative to do your research into the market before investing your life savings! At the same time, once you’ve done your research it’s important to move quickly into the market before someone else beats you to it. A lot of businesses don’t get off the ground because they are waiting to perfect their product or service before launching… when in the majority of cases you are best to launch the product you have, and then gain feedback from customers and improve as you go.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
I started out trying to figure out everything myself without engaging with people who had been there and done it before. I now have a number of mentors under my belt for each different area of the business to help fast track my skills and learning. This allows me to make much more efficient business decisions and progress us further. If I did this at the very beginning I would have fast tracked the business through a lot of the trial and error mistakes we made!
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