Okinlab’s concept impressed the jury of the Deutscher Gründerpreis (German Start-up Prize) back in 2016. Although it didn’t take home one of the big prizes, the start-up still achieved nationwide recognition.
Financial support from the EU
Now Okinlab is back in the spotlight again thanks to funding from the European Union. Company founders Nikolas Feth and Alessandro Quaranta and their team of 20 have received an injection of Euro two million as part of the EU’s Horizon 2020 innovation programme.
The jury praised the “great potential” of Okinlab’s business model with its enormous network effect. They described its timing as excellent given the global trend for individualising products. The furniture company plans to use the new investment to optimise its design-to-production process.
Internationalisation and network expansion
The money will also be invested in internationalisation. “In five years’ time, we want to become the leading platform for personalised furniture design and furniture production in Europe,” says Alessandro Quaranta.
In concrete terms, the team plans to increase its annual sales tenfold and to expand its network of carpenters, which currently includes more than 80 regional carpenters and joiners.
Up until now, most of its orders have come from Germany. But the young company also has customers in Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Austria and Switzerland.
Going up against 2,000 competitors
Okinlab had to face around 2,000 competitors in the multi-stage selection process and make it through a panel of experts in Brussels. Usually less than four per cent of applications are approved. Alongside Okinlab, cancer and Parkinson’s researchers and a project to improve data encryption were among the applicants to receive funding in the latest round.