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Podcast Transcript 031: Revolutionizing Office Sustainability through Circular Economy with Reseat CEO Brandi Susewitz

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[00:00:00] Brandi: 2024 is going to be different for us. I really feel that because now companies are, coming up with their game plans. They know they're not getting rid of all their offices. They're still going to be doing something. It's going to be somewhat of a hybrid, but now the reporting of scope three emissions is a must have.

You have to. So in the last month in particular. All those huge companies that have reached out to me in the last two and a half years are now coming back around because the thing that was maybe nice to have, but they didn't have to have it is now something that they have to have

[00:00:37] Michel: Hi everyone and welcome to Growth Leap. I'm your host, Michel Gagnon. We talked to pretty awesome business builders who are designing disruptive and meaningful companies.

Hi, everyone, and welcome. Today, we're joined by Brandi Susewitz, CEO of Reseat, the first circular marketplace for commercial furniture. Since 2020, she's been helping companies like Oracle, Uber, and Dropbox recycle and deal with the office furniture they no longer need. Brandi is not CEO, she's a visionary founder with a passion for sustainable furniture management.

With her deep industry Experience Brandi is at the forefront of emerging technology with eco friendly practices. I hope you enjoy the conversation.

[00:01:28] Michel: Welcome Brandi. Really happy to have you with us.

[00:01:32] Starting Reseat After Being Laid Off During the Pandemic to Solve Key Problems

[00:01:32] Michel: Before we get started, I always like to start with the, um inception. You launched your, your business during the pandemic.

I believe the idea was a lot older. there's a really insightful, inspiring backstory to, to Reseat. Can you tell us a bit how you got started?

[00:01:49] Brandi: First of all, thanks for having me. I started my company in March of 2020. Basically that's when the pandemic hit and I'd been in the office furniture industry for about 25 years in the San Francisco Bay area. And, the company that I was working for at the time of furniture dealership gave everyone a 50 percent pay cut. And then soon thereafter, uh, my husband and I lost our jobs. We actually worked at the same company. so very scary time. I think a lot of people have kind of forgotten about what that time was like, but it was very scary, especially for, people in our industry.

and particularly for me, because. I don't have a college education. I was a teenage mother at 16. And, I mean, I have a little bit of college education, but I don't have a degree. and everything that I've learned has been on the job, basically. So I started in this industry and customer service, moved into project management and then moved into sales and really just

[00:02:57] The Two Key Problems with Office Furniture Waste that Even Big Tech Faces

[00:02:57] Brandi: Learned the industry from the very bottom up, and I had noticed really early on in my career that companies that I was working with to sell them new office furniture for their new building didn't have a plan for what they were already sitting in.

And I made it a habit of asking that question in the very first call with them, because typically you're meeting with the customer about 9 to 12 months before they actually move. So they're talking to me. They already know they're not bringing their existing furniture. So what are you going to do with it?

And, so I would get in the habit of asking this question and companies were honestly a little taken back by the question. well, what do you care about that for? Like, we want to talk to you about our new building. But really, when I engage them about the question, they really kind of, you know, said, Oh, we'll, we'll, we'll worry about that later.

We'll talk to you about that when we're ready is typically the response you get. And then like clockwork, they call you about six weeks before they need to vacate the building. And they say, we need to vacate. And now can you help us sell our furniture? And this is part of the problem of waste and how it happens is.

They're not leaving themselves enough time, even though they know for many months, sometimes years that they're moving and they're not bringing their existing furniture, but I'm convinced the reason why , they don't work on it sooner is because they know that the very first question someone like me is going to ask is.

Well, what do you have, where's the inventory and these big companies like, you know, Yahoo and, Twitter you know, meta and all these huge companies, pretty much all of them are managing their furniture that they own across all their locations on Excel spreadsheets.

So they don't know what they have and they don't allow themselves enough time to market it. Those are the two key problems.

[00:04:52] Building Reseat: From Idea to Impactful Marketplace

[00:04:52] Brandi: And so basically we'll get back to how I started the business, which was basically, I was laid off and I had all this time on my hands. So I started to think about all these empty buildings and knowing it was already a problem, what's going to happen now, the problem's going to be so much worse.

And so I really dove into the statistics. And really, what's the truth on the furniture waste and I talked to the EPA and that's the Environmental Protection Agency, um, who's responsible for reporting all those numbers and, they told me 98 percent of all contract furniture is ending up in the landfill and less than 2 percent is being properly recycled or receiving a second life.

So when I heard that statistic, the very first thing that I thought was. Holy shit, excuse my French, but holy shit. Like that is a holy shit moment. That's a multi billion dollar untapped revenue stream that's in our landfills. All because companies aren't having a plan in place before they purchase all this furniture.

so I went on YouTube. I taught myself how to build a buy and sell website on WordPress. It took me about four months and then when I launched it, I was super surprised because, you know, I've been in this industry for 25 years, so I already have connections and a network and companies like Gensler, the largest architectural firm in the world were calling me and saying, Hey.

What are you building? Can you show it to us? We're really interested. and I was kind of like, what really? And it turns out that they are, like, they have been trying to solve this problem for a long time. they want to repurpose existing office furniture, but not just office furniture, building materials, doors, floors, light fixtures.

So much of this is just ending up in the landfill. and I'm convinced there's two things that you need is accurate information, which you got to capture at the time of purchase and time. And it has to be easily connected to a marketplace. And you also have to be able to have the network to sell it and move it.

And that's why we are teaming up with preferred receipt contract furniture dealers across the nation that are partnering with us. So that they're selling their furniture, not just with an invoice. Here's your invoice, but we're going to also give you a plan for what's going to happen to that furniture at the time of purchase so that you're ready when the time comes.

[00:07:34] Michel: So I really want our audience to understand your business.

[00:07:38] Exploring the Business Model and Market Dynamics

[00:07:38] Michel: What is it that you actually do with your website and your, your infrastructure also understand the business model.

Can you tell us maybe a little bit like who are your customers or buyers, your marketplace, um, how you actually make your, your money.

[00:07:54] Brandi: So a lot of people don't know this, but the office furniture industry, the commercial furniture industry is a lot like the car industry. you can't just go to Mercedes and buy your car. You have to go to a Mercedes dealer. So same thing with commercial furniture. There's basically about six top brands, global brands, and then there's the ancillary brands underneath.

Um, and all of those manufacturers have their dealers across the world that they work with. And the dealers are the ones that sell the furniture to the customers. They're the ones that basically own the customers and tell them what to buy right? and also support those projects. So they offer the design, the space planning, the delivery, the installation. The dealer network is, is something that's already been in place in our industry since the beginning of time. So for instance, if I wanted, if I was a salesperson in San Francisco, California, and my client Oracle needed to furnish a building, I In Berlin, I could still do that, but I'm working with the dealer partner in Berlin.

So I still get credit for it. So we're basically doing the exact same business model. So we, we know that the dealers are the ones that own the customers, right? And the manufacturers just sell the furniture to their customers through the dealer. The dealer supports it all.

so basically we know that in order to grow our inventories and to grow the amount of buyers that are going to be coming to us because we're only in San Jose, California. We're not all over the world. we have decided to partner with preferred dealers across the nation.

We're calling them preferred receipt dealers. and if they have agreed, um, To become a preferred receipt dealer. They've agreed to proactively register their projects with receipt IDs, giving their customers a plan for the second life cycle of their furniture. So the free version, there's a free version and then there's the enterprise version, the free version is basically we're showing the customer, you know, at the time they get their invoice, their acknowledgement.

They're also going to get a link to their dashboard, showing them their inventory of everything they just purchased. If they want the ability to do things with it intuitively, like move it between locations or move it to a warehouse or move it wherever, move, donate, sell, reorder. Then they need to go to the enterprise version, which is about 20 a head, 20 per person, and it's annually.

So it's not that much. to manage your furniture. But what we're hoping is that they will use our marketplace to easily connect when it's time to sell. And then you can kind of picture it in your mind. If all these dealers are signing up and they're proactively registering their projects with receipt IDs, that's growing our inventory of furniture that will become available in the next probably five to seven years, because most corporate leases last between five and seven years.

So it's basically an intuitive inventory management system that supports the circular economy by connecting to our marketplace because really the only thing that keeps contract furniture out of landfill, like I said, is. Accurate information, which we do by capturing the SIF file. It's the SIF file, which is the electronic file.

The dealer uses to place the order with the manufacturers. That file is just uploaded to our platform. And then we create these product cards, which act as receipt IDs and follow the life cycle of the furniture so that it's, you know, it's real time inventory. And that's really what they need.

[00:11:54] The Role of Technology and Partnerships in Circular Economy

[00:11:54] Michel: If I understand correctly, when we talk about this, that, that receipt ID, you're playing a little bit the long game, right? So where basically you connect with the dealers, you're fully integrated with, their system they actually buying it and then you're, you're positioning yourself for the next move, the next, downsize or the next, uh, whatever. Right. So, if I understand correctly, you also help them sell, because you, you started during the pandemic.

And I want to talk more about, about this, very soon, but.we've been n through a lot, uh, and I agree with you, it was scary, you, you had businesses who just shut down and had to sell their stuff and you had others who decided to, to downgrade or to consolidate some of their offices. Is that another revenue stream that you have?

[00:12:47] Brandi: It is. so I also knew that, it's a huge need, right? 17 billion pounds is ending up in the landfill. So once people started to hear about Reseat, I mean, lots of people are calling us to help us solve the furniture issue. most companies. Are still calling us and saying, we've got to get it out within eight weeks.

Well, that's probably not something we're going to be able to help you with because it's not a sofa. You know, you're trying to get rid of from your house. It's a building worth of office furniture with lots and lots of pieces. It's going to take time. but part of the reason why we decided to partner with the dealer network is because in order to sell all of these inventories, you need salespeople and the dealers already have the salespeople in their offices. Those are the people that own the customers and they're all the time. Startup companies or even, even larger companies are starting to, um, adopt reuse. and so they're calling the dealer salespeople saying, Hey, I need, you know, 500 test chairs.

In four weeks, do you have any? And they can utilize our platform. They receive a discount so that they're able to mark it up and make some money back, through the sale. But in addition to that, the dealers that are signing up their orders proactively with receipt IDs, they obviously make money on that first sale, but when the second lifecycle sale of that furniture sells, we also share in the profit with the dealer.

so it's giving the dealer a great way to really show themselves as a trusted advisor to the customer because they're not just selling them a bunch of stuff without a plan. And it's also giving them a way to, increase their revenue margins because when I started in the furniture business in the nineties.

most dealers were working at about a 20, 25 percent margin, and now it's down to like 18%. so this is a way to, to really kind of increase, revenue and provide a service, especially now that these laws are being implemented. We have a law that just was passed in California that requires all companies with generating a billion dollars or more public or private, all they have to do is have a location in California. Doesn't matter if it's their headquarters or not, but in 2027, starting 2027, they need to start reporting their scope three carbon emissions. And part of scope three is office furniture.

And the only way to get your carbon emission information is to know exactly what you have. And companies don't know that right now. so that was one of actually my, um, that was kind of a hurdle that, we've been facing in the last two and a half years since we started is we're winning all these awards.

Everybody loves it. We've gotten several very good customers that we're working with and well named companies and brands, but the enterprise tool specifically, is a harder sell because it's SAS. And I think also companies really didn't know what was happening with cobit. Are we going to the office?

Are we not? 2024 is going to be different for us. I really feel that because now companies are, coming up with their game plans. They know they're not getting rid of all their offices. They're still going to be doing something. It's going to be somewhat of a hybrid, but now the reporting of scope three emissions is a must have.

You have to. So in the last month in particular. All those huge companies that have reached out to me in the last two and a half years are now coming back around because the thing that was maybe nice to have, but they didn't have to have it is now something that they have to have

[00:16:48] Brandi's Logistics Strategy or the Best Way to Sell Used Office Funiture

[00:16:48] Michel: It's really interesting because you're kind of disrupting a very old business in a way. and, um, you know, when you started explaining that, you know, whenever you were selling, back in the days, you would ask, what are you doing with what you have at the moment, which is basically, you know, when you buy a fridge or a bed, you know, like the, the, like they leave with it right in general.

super interesting. I have interviewed a lot of SAS and, and, digital first companies. I'm wondering if you have any logistics involved because, I want to go back to the example that you were giving. with the dealers being able resell, used furniture. Where is that furniture?

Is that something that stays in the office and you have to sell it before they move? Or do you know, do you send them to the dealer's warehouses and like that?

[00:17:40] Brandi: That's a great question. so the whole name of the game is, you know, how to keep the furniture out of landfill, like I said, is, accurate information, time, but also the reason why you need the time is because part of that, it's key to market it while it's standing.

We don't move out of our houses and then sell them because it's too wasteful, right? Same thing with office furniture. you want to sell it while it's standing for several different reasons. Number one. The customer that's interested can go and visit the site and walk the space and really get the overall sense of the condition of what they're buying.

Right? opposed to if it's torn down and it's in a warehouse, it's not put together. You can't understand what it really is. and that was the lesson that I learned early on in my career was, and I'll tell you a story, I was newly in the industry and I had a startup company that wanted to buy a pre owned inventory and I found a used office furniture broker locally.

And he showed me in the warehouse, yep, it's all here. You know, it should have been 150 workstations, eight by eight Technion, you know, great condition. He showed me photos, the drawing. Well, we went to go deliver and install it and product was ripped. It was damaged. There was no connector pieces. It was a nightmare.

And so I learned a couple of things with that. It's very hard to sell an inventory that's in a warehouse, especially if we haven't torn it down because. Who knows who's tearing it down and how they treat the furniture. and it's, it's a kind of a very shady business. They used office furniture brokers.

They're, I say they're worse than the used car industry. It's very bad. they're just really kind of there to make a quick buck, a lot of them. So obviously there's a couple of ways that you could do it when you're thinking about selling the furniture and logistically getting it there.

And you know, we could have hired salespeople in different markets to help sell the furniture, but then that's somebody I have to pay full time with benefits and everything when really. I knew that the dealer network already has all those salespeople in there. I mean, literally we have a couple of thousand salespeople nationwide through the dealers right now, constantly looking at our products and presenting them.

and then logistics, we could use, a best way carrier or something like that to get the products there, but why, when we have the dealer network. The same way we do new furniture jobs across the country or across the world is the same way we do used furniture jobs, reverse logistics. So we utilize the dealer networks.

We utilize their warehouses. If we need to utilize their warehouse, we utilize their salespeople, their installers, their trucks, their equipment. And in turn, they're also making money. so it's a win win.

[00:20:46] Michel: One thing at the end, you were mentioning you're utilizing the dealers. They do their part of the job because it makes sense as you were saying, it's good for them, positioning themselves as trusted partner, but also, increasing margins. So they're partners and they do their part of the job. you're not involved in the logistics or are you?

[00:21:04] Brandi: Well, we are, like, so for instance, let's say a dealer signs up, their customer Cisco and Cisco just purchased a bunch of furniture, right. From them. We created receipt IDs. Six years later, Cisco has been using our platform to manage all of their furniture. So they're not just coming to the platform.

Six years later, we are selling this as an intuitive inventory management system that they, that the company uses to, to do all of their internal requisitions, ads, moves, changes, purchases, all of that. In addition to reporting scope three, carbon emissions. so I'm sorry, what was the initial question?

[00:21:51] Michel: I'm still on the, on the logistics. And I was wondering if you were just, um, maybe reframe this, differently, I'm always interested in, how you build your team and the type of people that you need, right? So what you're telling me is that you don't need salespeople you're using. The, the dealers, right? You're building a SaaS. So I'm assuming you have some sort of, engineers of developers, you know, or supporting you on that side. and I was curious about, do you have somebody in charge of logistics or do you need somebody, or this is something that's done, uh, mainly by, by your partners?

[00:22:27] How Much Can You Make Selling Used Furniture on Reseat

[00:22:27] Brandi: It's basically we, the dealer and us, we work together. So if there's an inventory of theirs, of their clients, that's for sale. Cisco calls them. It goes on the platform. Six years later marks the items that they want to sell. It would click sell. The dealer gets notified. So do we dealer gets notified that Cisco is interested in selling this, these items of furniture, they're getting ready to move.

The dealer has to go out just to verify the overall condition and the quality of the furniture, verify counts, verify that the drawing that was originally uploaded to the platform matches what's there. Because when 6 or 7 years go by, you could have some ads moves and changes in the drawing might not exactly match what's there.

So there's just a vetting process that happens right there. And once that happens and, and it's approved, then we click approve. It gets published to the marketplace, automatically priced per the market value, which is 20 cents on the dollar typically. As long as you have enough time to market it, you can expect to get about 20 cents on the dollar and then we publish it and typically we'll have about 6 to 8, 9 months to market an inventory.

And during that time. We'll get leads through the website. Somebody's interested in, the inventory and in Arizona, that's from Cisco, I'll get them connected with the dealer. The dealer will go out and show the furniture. They'll walk the space. You know, get the approval and then once that furniture is sold, the dealer and us, we notify the client just saying that the furniture sold, getting proof of insurance, building conditions, regulations, and then we coordinate with the dealer to make that happen and to remove the furniture.

it's a good deal for the dealer because they're also making money on that sale. so yeah, it's, it's really cool. It's kind of amazing how it was all really, really already there set up as far as the dealer network goes. But now, since we have technology to do it, there's no reason why we can't be circular.

And in fact, I would love for everything that we all own, everyone be able to, pull up a dashboard on your phone and go through all the stuff that's in my garage. You know, those skis that I purchased, I only use them once, click sell. And it has all the information about that product, what you originally paid for, what you could, you know, suggested resell price.

And it automatically connects to a circular marketplace. Not, you know, you've got to go out, identify what it is, take pictures, measure it, then put it up. I think if you set people up with that already, like in their phones, everything you purchase is on here and can connect to a, Craigslist, not Craigslist, more advanced than Craigslist, but you know, a circular marketplace where you can add to cart and check out and get the service that you need.

[00:25:39] Brandi's Journey: From Industry Expert to Tech Entrepreneur

[00:25:39] Michel: I think it's a good segue into, you know, about you and your background. So you explain that you know, the market extremely well, even if you don't have, the college degree that, others may have, you've been, in the, the market in the field for, for a long time, you know how the industry works, but then you wake up one day and you decide to say, I'm going to build a SaaS.

Tell me a bit more about, what you've been through and also what you've learned because it's it's one part of the, the business that you didn't know and you had to stretch yourself quite a bit.

[00:26:11] Brandi: Yeah. Well, it's been extremely challenging. you know, it might look easy from the outside, but it has been extremely challenging, because, you know, really, my experience is in the office furniture industry. and. All of a sudden I'm the owner of a tech company and I'm talking about carbon data, I, you know, really, I don't consider myself a tech savvy person, but I really, quite honestly, it's kind of crazy how everything has turned out because it just seems like I'm surrounding myself with much smarter people than myself that are able to listen to what I want to build.

And build it. I mean, I'm learning so much. It's been, it's been really kind of incredible and you're constantly learning and you're constantly pivoting and you're constantly solving problems. and I'm learning that a big part of this is. Just being able to pivot and keep moving and, make decisions and move on, and if it doesn't work, try something else, you know, don't give up.

[00:27:21] How Brandi Found Her First Team Members

[00:27:21] Michel: How, how many employees do you have?

[00:27:24] Brandi: 14.

[00:27:25] Michel: third, fourteen. How, how did you start, I'm always curious because you need to pick the first person and, and the second one, how, uh, and where did you find them?

[00:27:36] Brandi: Yeah. That's interesting. So, actually our first employee that we hired, was somebody that my husband and I had worked with at the dealership and she has a very interesting background. so she started as an architect and she perfected that. And then about 10 years ago, I had hired her at one of the dealers I was working at.

and she perfected that job. So she learned all about commercial furniture, but then after she worked for us at the dealer for a couple of years, she ended up by leaving and she went to Facebook and Samsung and she worked in their facilities department. And she saw what we were doing and she reached out and we knew that she was, you know, very, very smart. woman, had a lot of experience, could be very valuable and so she was with us for the first year and a half, and she's actually, the one that really helped us figure out how to build the backend, because she came from Facebook and Samsung and so she knew, what they needed in order to, keep track of their furniture. So. That's where we got the idea of all of , the requisitions being able to have a dashboard where you could manage everything there.

and then it was my idea to be able to easily move, donate, sell, reorder. There's also 2 more functionalities that we're adding by June, but it's going to be repair. So repair is going to be warranty, information because a lot of companies don't know that they have these awesome warranties on chairs and things, and they'll just throw them away if they've got broken arm caps, when really the arm caps just need to be replaced.

and then renew. So renew is a button that we're adding that will be able to give the user the ability to, look at a sofa. cause I see this all the time companies will, they'll have their color scheme is all green for one building and then they move and it's all blue or whatever, but they'll get rid of all that furniture because it's not the color scheme they need for the new building.

So I want people to be able to look at, you know, certain items and know right away, wait a second. If I just reupholster this, it's going to cost me X amount, probably not going to be cheaper than buying new, but it will save you carbon. And so we'll be able to show and share that information with people.

And my hope is just to make the reuse process easier. For people, you know, instead of got a call for a quote and send the information and get the size of the sofa and get photos and it's all gotta be, you know, the technology is there. So you can just bam, send it.

[00:30:30] Facing Challenges and Envisioning the Future of Reseat

[00:30:30] Michel: And what's been your greatest, challenges in transitioning, from, being in the business to, owning a tech company, what have you found, maybe the most, daunting.

[00:30:40] Brandi: Oh gosh, probably wrapping my head around the carbon, understanding the science, it takes time. I mean, honestly, you can learn anything on YouTube. It's amazing. it takes time and you've got to, you've got to listen to podcasts. You've got to listen to conferences.

You've got to talk to the right people. so I'm constantly learning. I don't know at all by any means, you know, and I really just thank my team that's around me because we've gotten a lot of organic attention and interest and people wanting to work with us. It's kind of amazing because last year we were going through a growth spurt and we hi, we were hiring and we put an ad out on LinkedIn.

And I was shocked because there were like over 500 people applying and these people were big names from like eBay, Meta, Twitter, all the big companies wanting to work with us. So it's, I don't know what to say, but I'm thankful. I'm so thankful, and I, I truly believe there's a higher, something higher is involved.

It's not just me, it can't be,

[00:31:49] Michel: it's not all just your magic.

[00:31:51] Brandi: no, it can't be

[00:31:52] Michel: You said that, understanding the carbon footprint, or the carbon data has been, a steep learning curve. Are you integrating any carbon footprint data in your platform? And if

how? Okay, that's

[00:32:09] Brandi: We are. And it's, it's so bizarre how I, how I got involved with these people, but, , so we are teamed up with a company called Cooler in the United States and, they are the same company that was hired by the Obama administration to figure out how to report on furniture.

And so, they also do all the carbon data reporting for every single item on Walmart. Um, so they're, they're, they're a big powerhouse and we're a, we API it into their system, and it automatically shows the carbon data on the products. So what's interesting about this is , our products, most of our products on our website are second life, but the carbon data that we are showing is the original carbon data carbon that it took to make that product.

So essentially we're saying that you're saving x amount from entering, the atmosphere because you purchased it second life. But really what Cooler and and Reseat are working on is the real carbon number for reporting second life furniture, which hasn't been done. So there's like a new, we're kind of setting the tone for that new reporting, methodology.

So that's actually taking place currently. So I would say that our estimates on carbon carbon data are are rough estimates, but they're as accurate as they can be right now. And we're working on getting them even more accurate. Because they are already here, right? So it's a very interesting thing, but I know that I've got the right team around me.

[00:33:55] Michel: So basically the data that you're showing with Cooler is the basically the footprint based on the actual production, with resources and transportation that's involved, but it's not the full necessarily life cycle

[00:34:09] Brandi: Right. Because. Because really items that we're selling on our marketplace, I mean, look, for instance, a Herman Miller task chair could be maybe 7 years old. It's not, you know, producing any carbon. We're working on more accurate reporting, but it's definitely the more conservative model.

But all of this is, we're working so fast, so hard, people are so busy doing, different things to, to the site, to improve it, to, add different functionalities. And I, I'm confident that this will be something that we fix within 6 to 9 months. I mean, it's not really, we have to fix it, but it's just something because it's a new level of reporting that people haven't done yet.

So it's kind of, kind of interesting,

[00:34:58] Michel: So it's quite quite complicated. I've been involved in or I'm involved in, um, similar endeavors on the advertising technology side. Um, and, um, I mean, everybody, I think in general, people have good intentions, but it's, it's complicated. Right. And, um, and you have to take it seriously if you want to move fast.

So I'm happy to see that things are moving fast on your end. Maybe one questions about also the fact that you went from, being in the industry to becoming a tech founder, you also kind of become a, an entrepreneur and a company leader. Although you, you had some previous experiences, right?

You've, you've founded your, your businesses before.

So my husband and I owned our own business from 2000 to 2014. And during that time, all I did was buy and sell second life inventories in the Bay area. I also come from, my grandparents were big entrepreneurs. And, yeah, so I, I started my first business when I was about 26, it was right when I got married.

[00:36:10] Brandi: We came back from our honeymoon and I said, you know, I think I want to start my own business because I had been working for the dealer and, selling the furniture, PMing the project, doing all the customer service. The company's taking all the money. So, so I started my own business in 2000 and we had a small boutique furniture dealership for 14 years.

And I just kind of realized that it wasn't something, it wasn't something that we were growing past. 3 million in sales, we were doing that consistently for 14 years, but it wasn't enough to grow it out of the house and make it something that was actually meaningful. So this is, yeah, this is a completely different business.

And definitely a very different feeling behind it. It's, it literally feels like we're on a rocket ship. I mean, just because of everything happening so organically. So it's, it's just the perfect timing, I think.

[00:37:14] Michel: but what, what I find super interesting with your story is that sometimes a lot of founders, build a product that's looking for, a problem, right? They, they build a solution looking for a problem. You know so well, the industry. You know so well the players. You identified, , a problem and you built a solution for it.

So I find it super interesting. I have two questions that I don't want to forget. The first one is about the pandemic. So, uh, and I remember, you know, uh, in March, I remember telling 100 people. I told them tomorrow we all work from home to see if we can run the business. And then, on that day, the Senate in Berlin, who manages most of what what's happening in Berlin, uh, decided to shut down all the, the daycares and schools.

We had a lot of parents. So I said, okay, well we're working from home until further notice. And, you've seen it, you've had big companies, uh, I think like Spotify saying everybody's going to work from home forever until the end of time. A lot of companies in the U S have done the same thing just to backtrack or back pay.

I'll say, yeah, we've changed our mind. So, um, I'm really interesting to understand since you're in it, you launched when like the trend was in consolidating downgrading. There is an element of sustainability that popped up with the new law. What's your outlook? if you take your crystal ball, like today with your business, how do you see things evolving in offices and, office furniture market?

[00:39:00] Brandi: Well, I know locally Apple and Google, some of the bigger companies have required people to come back into work at least three days a week. I think that there are a lot of jobs that can be done from home. However, it's not a one size fits all. It just can't be. And especially when you think about, a lot of the kids that we hire or just graduating college, right?

And so it's very hard to train people when they're just coming out of college, virtually. A lot of this work needs, you need to shadow, other people and, and work with them side by side. I also don't know, like, how are you supposed to give people raises and promote within if they're not in the office and you don't really know who they are, how they work or their work ethic, or I don't know, it's, it's so hard.

So I just feel like the office definitely is not going to go away, but it's, it's definitely changed forever. I think. The other issue too, is, for us example, we're a startup and we're building a technology and technology moves fast. And, you know, you've got to be able to be in a room and go back, back and forth.

And if you're not, you've got to be able to have the kind of team where you can pick up the phone. They're going to answer. 99. 9 percent of the time, you know. So I feel really fortunate because our team is like that. My CTO is actually out of North Carolina. And so there's a bit of a time difference, but he's on the clock.

I can get to him, there's no issues there. My first set of developers, there was a bigger issue. Learned a lot with that. Because interesting enough, the first set of developers that we had hired were outsourced from Ukraine and then the war started. So we also had that, but we had to jump through hoops and.

Where's all of our data being stored and is it in Ukraine? Is it, you know, protected? Where's the server? You know, it's going to be interesting. It's really going to be interesting how, how the workplace kind of plays out.

[00:41:15] Michel: And where do you see the growth in your business with all of those changes? Because as I was mentioning earlier, you had this initial, let's shut everything down. What do we do? And now, you know, people are trying to find the, middle ground your own, for your business, when you look at, let's say the market drivers, you see the growth really coming from that from the sustainability angle or.

[00:41:40] Brandi: I really do, I really do see the growth in reuse. We've worked with several large customers that, Palo Alto Networks, for instance, they're a huge billion dollar, you know, company. They've done several projects recently utilizing reuse, reupholstering. They're also using this time, I feel to experiment with certain things.

But I really believe with all of my heart and soul that reuse is the future. It's the only way to really save this planet. And now that technology is there, like I said, I would like to see everything have a receipt ID. I mean, that is a huge, huge dream. And maybe in five years you'll talk to me and now everything's got receipt IDs.

That would be pretty amazing. But at least for furniture, for commercial furniture, I know it's the way to go. And I feel like it's one of the hardest things to. Actually know what you have and be able to sell because it's so customized to each space, we're kind of figuring out the hardest thing first.

I would say that in building materials for sure. But it's certainly very exciting.

[00:42:56] Closing Thoughts and Looking Ahead to 2024

[00:42:56] Michel: That leads me to my last question, if we talk again in 12 months, what are the top goals or the top boxes that you want to be able to tick say, well, that was a successful 12 months.

[00:43:10] Brandi: For 2024, we are looking at adding more dealers, more dealer partners, and then also, we are very close to signing three major global known companies on the platform. So if that happens, that'll be amazing. If we could get at least three to five new enterprise customers this year, I think we, we would have a very successful year.

[00:43:39] Michel: Well, I wish you more than three to five. Thank you so much for your time. Wishing you all the best. I think you're really onto something and I agree with you. Circularity is it's the way to go. So wishing you all the best for 2024 and, if we want our audience to follow you, LinkedIn is a great place to, to find you.

[00:44:00] Brandi: Yeah. LinkedIn. We also have an Instagram page. Uh, where we're very current with all the news, we talk about, um, current inventories, and then we also highlight projects that we have completed. So you can kind of get a view into what a second life cycle furniture project will look like. It doesn't look like junk, it looks very, very nice.

So and you're doing something great for the planet.

[00:44:26] Michel: Wonderful. We'll make sure audience has access to that. Thank you so much, Randy. Have a wonderful rest of day and hopefully extremely successful 2024.

[00:44:36] Brandi: Thank you.

[00:44:37] Michel: Thanks again for listening, I hope you enjoyed the show. Make sure you subscribe to the podcast. And as usual you can find the show notes at stunandawecom.

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