The idea for the Finnish phone booth company was born at a noisy open office.
Framery O phone booth creates an echo-free, fresh and nice working environment.
It was autumn 2010, when two friends working at the same software company in Tampere, Finland, got enough of their boss talking way too loud on the phone. That was the time when they discovered that there’s a need for phone booths in open offices – And nobody else was producing those globally.
Since then Framery Acoustics has been building up the world’s first open office phone booths and now they’re producing the 13th generation of their product.
“The first batch we delivered to few firms in Tampere wasn’t the best quality ever, but since then we have had around 3500 iterations to improve our product. Now I dare to say it’s the best one on the market,” says Samu Hällfors, the co-founder and head of design of Framery Acoustics.
The company started going international right away, and they sold their first booths to Sweden in 2011 – And made it to US through Europe in 2013. In 2014, Framery got their first significant globally-known references when for example Twitter bought phone booths at their office in San Francisco.
This week Framery will be also announcing a big new reference, which is a huge accomplishment for the company, says Hällfors:
“There’s only few companies who have this big early adapters in their reference list. When we started five years ago, nobody understood why would one produce phone booths for offices, and now almost every office needs one.”
Growth through retail network and strategic changes in product portfolio
When Framery started to grow, Hällfors tells that they had in total twelve different products with a total of 3 million different product variations. After a small A-round in 2014, the company joined Tekes-program for young innovative companies in Finland and made a strategic change to concentrate only on one product, Framery O, which has approximately 2000 possible variations at the moment.
Numbers show something how the changes affected to Framery’s operations: The company’s revenue was 680 000 euros in 2013. In 2014 they reached a revenue of 1,26 million euros and their estimate for 2015 is around 2,5 million. Hällfors says the growth started from the retail network:
“We have a great physical product, which has been successful especially in UK, France, Scandinavia, Germany and US. As we are aiming for global market cover, reaching our goal without local retailers is impossible. We are not ready for online retail yet.”
Since the retail network is in a big role of Framery’s sales, Hällfors tells that they have done research that it usually takes around 6-8 months for new resellers to start getting sales. Now they’re waiting for growth from new resellers in US that started at the end of 2014 – which might potentially raise this year’s revenue to 4 million euros.
“There’s a huge interest towards our product in US, which we could experience few weeks ago at Neocon in Chicago, the most important annual event for commercial interiors industry. We won the category of new products in office system furniture – And got selected to the group of four most interesting products at the whole fair,” says Hällfors.
Going global – Producing in Finland
As Framery has been going global since the beginning, the production of the phone booths will stay in Finland, Hällfors says. The company sees value at staying in Finland, as the main raw material of the booth is Finnish birch plywood.
“We have our raw materials close here, and our production methods have been fully automatized. The only possible scenario is opening a storage in US for final assembly, because all of our products actually come out as similar booths from the production line. The different variations are created through the final touches,” describes Hällfors.
The company has 17 employees at the moment and in total with the subcontractors the amount is approximately 50 employees. Only two of the employees are located outside Finland in US. “Supporting the society and employing in Finland is also important to us through our input,” Hällfors emphasizes.
But it’s gonna be interesting times for the world’s first phone booth company – as the amount of open offices and activity based offices is increasing. Hällfors says that there’s basically no competition at the market – so Framery will keep on creating the market.
“There’s about 50 companies producing phone booths, but I dare to say we’re the only ones with a functioning product, a wide client base and global delivery possibility. I’m sure there will be more competition in 1-2 years, since the mass will follow the trend.”
But who would’ve guessed that the two guys – the co-founders Hällfors and Vesa-Matti Marjamäki – who were building together a mobile sauna as a side project at their University parking lot in Tampere, would put together a global phone booth company.
“We had a joke when we started that if we could have built a mobile sauna – we could also build up a phone booth,” says Hällfors.
And you remember that ‘loud ex-boss’ that inspired the foundation of Framery? He was actually one of the first one’s who bought the phone booth almost five years ago, and now he sits at the board of the company.
— ArcticStartup (@arcticstartup) June 30, 2015