Naduvi-founder Itai Gross

Naduvi wins first installment of AFAS Young Business Award

The first finalist of the AFAS Young Business Award has been announced. Amsterdam-based furniture supplier Naduvi wins the first installment of the competition for young, growing companies. Sustainability, scalability and diversity were the deciding factors according to the jury.

A pitch in front of the cameras is a bit different than a pitch in front of a prospect. Nerves were dripping off during this first show. Naduvi-founder Itai Gross still came across firmly, for Kim Hiemstra (Boombrush) and Jan Wijn (Trunkrs) the spotlights are clearly even further out of their comfort zone. This, of course, comes at the expense of the well-rehearsed one-minute sales pitches. Fortunately, presenter J├Ârgen Raymann has the gift of bringing some calm.

Content-wise, the young entrepreneurs had quite a bit to bring to the table. Boombrush, which sells more sustainable electric toothbrushes and subscriptions to replace brush heads, already has 35,000 subscribers. A major achievement. ''We expect to start making a profit from the middle of next year,'' Kim Hiemstra replied to a question about it from jury member Wim de Jong (Young Venture Group).

Jury chairman Bas van der Veldt (AFAS) does not yet see the great benefits of the subscription system for him as a customer. ''Can't you just make a toothbrush that alerts me when I need to change the cup?'' The brushes are sold online, which is handsome. How it managed to get so many customers in a short time, the jury unfortunately did not ask.

Kim Hiemstra already raised millions in investment money, but does not make it to the finals of the AFAS Young Business Award. Still, the jury, which besides Wim de Jong and Bas van der Veldt consists of Marleen Evertsz (Nxchange), Emily Glastra (T-Systems) and Carlo Ezinga (Rabobank), has words of praise. Not only for Boombrush, but also for Trunkrs, which also missed out on the finals. Van der Veldt: ,,We enjoyed the pitches and have the feeling that all three of you will get there.''

They have to make do with that for now, although the AFAS Young Business Award network could well lead to more. Trunkrs founder Jan Wijn has two main selling points for his delivery service: an unsurpassed customer experience and a commitment to sustainability. That has already earned him hundreds of web shops as customers. ,,We work a lot for food companies, who want their products transported correctly and quickly. More expensive fashion brands use us because of their customers' great experience.''

Naduvi wins first installment of AFAS Young Business Award

Learn more about the Young Business Award

Scaling up

So that customer experience is key. But how can you continue to guarantee it when a party wants to take over? That's what jury member Carlo Ezinga wonders. Wine is clear: ,,Customer experience and sustainability are the reason we exist. Those would be our conditions in a takeover. If those are not met, we won't have a conversation.''

Itai Gross clearly brought the most complete story. His Naduvi (turnover: 18 million euros) connects more and more European furniture factories so that his customers get an ever-increasing supply. Smart technology ensures an efficient supply chain. ,,Our partners are happy. A factory in Poland makes 500 sofas for us every month. We are a whole new sales channel for that factory.''

Naduvi is growing and already raised a lot of investment money to continue that line. Weakness could well be the return policy. The jury could have pressed a little harder on that. Van der Veldt: ,,You want to feel a chair before you buy it. There will certainly be a lot returned that you don't like. How do you deal with that?''

Gross has great faith in technology. He thinks augmented reality can largely solve the "return problem. You can project the furniture into your own living room. But how those nonetheless returned sofas and chairs are processed, he doesn't say. ''It used to be that nobody thought about ordering shoes online, because you also want to try them on. Now it's normal. It's the same way with furniture.''

Naduvi is in the finals and can expect more questions along those lines then. Gross' pitch stood like a house; his company has great opportunities. Sales are now in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, but thanks to the digital engine, scaling up to more countries is definitely possible. That is undoubtedly an important reason to want Naduvi back.

Participants episode 1

Naduvi unlocks furniture from renowned brands. These come directly from the supplier to the customer. That saves money and emissions, promise founder Itai Gross and his hundred employees. The thick 18 million in investment money says that promise will be kept.

Kim Hiemstra's Boombrush makes recyclable electric toothbrushes from recycled plastic. The Rotterdam startup is committed to service and convenience and has already raised 2.5 million in funding.

Trunkrs is a delivery service for same-day or next-day delivery in the Netherlands and Belgium. Jan Wijn's Amsterdam-based startup, together with 98 FTEs, does this as sustainably as possible and completely emission-free by 2025. To achieve that goal quickly, the startup already raised 18 million in funding.


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