Start-up HUG poised to conquer design sauna market

The most important thing for a start-up company is a good plan that shows potential. In this respect, HUG, manufacturer of compact design saunas that can be placed at home or in hotels, for example, is in good shape. The market has been explored, the product stands and the funding is in place. We are ready to make the Netherlands a little more relaxed," says founder Camilo Behage.

Behage is an experienced entrepreneur in the wellness industry. Among other things, he is managing director of Xiomara, a manufacturer of infrared radiators for saunas, spas and resorts. This is how he came up with the idea for a designer sauna for both the wellness and private markets. "The infrared emitters we already make are also very suitable for use in a small space, such as a one-person sauna.

The entrepreneur started looking for a company to realize his idea with. However, he failed to find a manufacturer and decided to take matters into his own hands. Together with his sister Arlen, Camilo founded HUG, whose first project was a single-person infrared sauna for the home that stands out for its state-of-the-art design. 'We use only the highest quality materials. You would want to put it right in your living room, so to speak.' Sustainability has also been considered: the sauna cabin is made from recycled PET bottles, making it the first of its kind. Another feature of the HUG is that it does not, like the familiar sauna in the vacation rental, take half an hour to get up to temperature first. 'You turn it on and it's warm. Ideal right?


Behage contacted Flinc, a project of NOM that guides entrepreneurs with innovative ideas and puts them in touch with investors. The next step was to write a watertight business plan to win over lenders. 'We obviously needed money to further develop and produce HUG, because HUG is a new company. Not millions, but serious money.'

That plan was no half-baked, recalls Ferry Diters, then account manager at Rabobank in Drachten (he now works at Rabobank in Hengelo). "I immediately thought, this is what we're going to do. According to Diters, the quality of the plan lies in a combination of factors, but what struck him most was the enthusiasm of the entrepreneurs. 'They are obviously not beginners, but they are start-ups. They really know the ropes in their field and can communicate that very well. The same feeling prevails with Investment Manager Klaas Kooistra of NOM: 'They know the market. This is evidenced by the fact that their first year's sales are already basically complete, which means that there are already purchase intentions from dealers in their network.' Both Rabobank and NOM provided a loan to HUG.

Camilo is very happy with the funding, which came through in mid-October. 'We are now working hard to produce the first HUGseats. After this, we have plans for a double cabin, the groupHUG. But for now, that is still in the future.'

What the future will bring, he finds difficult to predict. But he certainly has confidence. 'We are all increasingly busy and don't have enough time to relax, so stress sets in. Who wouldn't want to go into the sauna at home in the evening to clear his head?

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