Some products were just made for these times. Take, for example, The Edge Desk. In January of this year, it was just an interesting, ergonomically designed piece of office furniture. Then came February, March and the COVID-19 crisis – and suddenly the whole definition of “office” changed.
“It’s no longer about hoarding supplies – workers from every company imaginable are realizing that productivity is very much about being comfortable and focused as you work from anywhere,” says Marc Rosenberg, CEO and Founder of The Edge Desk. “Team members from Apple, Google, Shopify, LinkedIn and dozens more have used company-allocated work-from-home (WFH) allowances to purchase our desk. Sales have jumped more than 800 percent in four weeks.”
Strictly from a product design perspective, The Edge Desk is unique. While standing desks are all the rage, when Rosenberg designed The Edge, he went in a completely different direction: He knelt. He describes The Edge Desk as the only kneeling desk and chair system that provides an ergonomic, adjustable and portable desk solution. In fact, he holds a U.S. utility and design patent as well as a Chinese design patent.
The Edge system ships in one fully assembled piece, folds flat to seven inches and weighs less than 29 pounds. It comes with padded seat cushions and knee rests, and the attached desk adjusts for height and angle.
Rosenberg got the idea during a visit to his daughter’s college dorm at Michigan State in 2016. “I couldn’t help but notice how all of the kids were sitting on their beds using their laptops. But the rooms looked no different than when I was in school a hundred years ago,” he noted. “Each had two beds, two desks and no space. I asked the kids if they ever used their desks, and 99 percent said never. I followed up by asking if they could have it removed, would they? All answered that they would prefer the extra space for a yoga mat, futon or something else.”
Fast-forward two months. Rosenberg was on a commercial shoot and 13 hours into the day, the director brought in two masseuses with kneeling massage chairs. The director asked him to look at something on his laptop while he was getting the massage. He couldn’t help but realize how comfortable he was in the kneeling position. With that, the idea for a company was born. He had a prototype made, and in 2016 he was offered $3.6 million from a venture capital firm to fund the business. The VC firm wanted 62 percent of the company, so The Edge then became one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns in history. In 2017, the company sold 1,500 desks in 42 days across 41 countries, and presented the product at the Cannes Festival of Creativity in June 2017.
Life had other plans for Rosenberg. After the company shipped the Kickstarter orders and added four distributors in Japan, Europe, the U.S. and Canada, he was diagnosed with leukemia. After spending 34 days in the hospital in the summer of 2017 and then doing 120 rounds of chemo in 16 months, his inability to get out and sell stalled The Edge’s growth. Eventually, he recovered, and the company in place today is the one he envisioned – that is, with the exception of a pandemic that spiked his product’s sales.
“Our timeline has shortened dramatically, and while so many companies are hunkered down and strategizing their next moves, we are moving faster to continue to lead as a small, entrepreneurial company,” Rosenberg said. “We see it as our responsibility, and opportunity, to help people work better wherever they choose to work. The days of people going to the office five days a week are over. Distancing is showing to be healthier. In my opinion, another likely change is the number of shared workspaces. WeWork opened up a massive industry. In the U.S., the focus is on people being able to work anywhere, which I think it will spark a trend of new types of office furniture. After all, it’s usually very tough to pick up and move a standing desk.”
The company’s primary marketing is through word-of-mouth activities: PR, influencers, sampling and very targeted Facebook and Instagram campaigns. Rosenberg’s total marketing spend since The Edge’s inception is under $100,000. Key metrics include customer acquisition cost, conversion, ROI and, of course, sales. In the past month, The Edge has sold hundreds of desks between its Shopify store and Amazon, with a total Facebook ad spend of $1,296.
The targeted nature of the company’s marketing his yielded a good look at its customer personas. The core user is 25-34 years old, with a 50-50 male/female split. During the COVID crisis, Roseberg has seen sales from tech company employees, college students and more. He has also opened up B2B sales via the military and insurance company relief teams.
Rosenberg is currently in the market to raise $3 million to be used for: Inventory, staffing (primarily in sales), and marketing. He says he’s considering bringing on a key strategic partner with expertise in building a multi-channel sales organization.
“Our plans for this year are to build on the incredible resurgence of interest in The Edge,” he said. “We are working to increase production to not only meet demand for the current environment, but also to build for the future. Working from home is not something that will go away. Our focus is to continue raising awareness and building our sales organization, focusing on B2B as well as DTC.” Rosenberg’s team is also working to expand the company’s offerings, with plans for a version of the desk for gamers and people who stream games online.
Rosenberg likes his chances in the current direct-to-consumer climate. “While we still have challenges because of smaller budgets, we can not only compete in the alternative work furniture category, but we can thrive,” he noted. “Some of the standing desk guys have tried to step on our kneeling desk SEO efforts, but by and large, we are pretty well-equipped to scale and defend our intellectual property.”