Funding growth and innovation: Plank Hardware Co-Founders on their journey - Business Leader News

Funding growth and innovation: Plank Hardware Co-Founders on their journey

We talk to Tom Revill and Annie Aveyard, Co-Founders of Plank Hardware, about achieving B Corp certification, international market expansion and supporting charitable causes.

What was the motivation behind establishing Plank Hardware in 2019 and how has the business evolved since?

After having helped Annie renovate her first flat – a doer-upper in Walthamstow in North East London – I developed something of a passion for building custom furniture pieces. I initially bought a pallet of reclaimed wooden planks, which we transformed into shelves, a dining room table, and bedside units for her new place — and visitors seemed to really like the designs! Encouraged by the feedback and looking for a pivot away from my current job as an e-commerce consultant, I went on to rent a tiny workshop space, where I made self-assembly furniture kits and then sold them on Etsy.

Whilst fun to get back to creative, hands-on work, the projects were labour-intensive, and the demand wasn’t dependable. What I did learn during this experience is that the hardware market was lacking in the products I’d been wanting to source; trend-informed designs, of a good quality, and for a fair price. That’s when I started designing my own interior details, and the company was born.

As of 2023, Plank Hardware is a Certified B Corp. What drove you to attain this certification and what does it mean for your business?

We started our B Corp journey in Spring 2022, after having been trading for three years. In the previous 12 months, we’d expanded our employee headcount from less than 10 to closer to 20. That fluctuation of team members — working in new roles and newly formed teams — cast a light on many of the processes that we hadn’t yet in place. We looked at the B Corp framework as being a tailor-made solution for helping us to navigate business growth, responsibly.

We recruited Margot Vitale, our Head of Operations, to lead our B Corp application processes and help us to implement everything from a comprehensive employee handbook, through to a supplier code of conduct.

Now that we have the fundamentals in place, and we have been granted certification, we’re looking to focus our next B Corp chapter on further challenging the data. From our annual carbon audits, we’ve learnt that our greatest planetary impact is as a consequence of our product manufacturing, so we’re keen to understand what aspects of our supply chain can be improved upon. That might mean working with new materials in the future or turning to different manufacturing processes.

    Plank Hardware supports charities, such as Furnishing Futures. Can you tell us a bit about your charitable collaborations and what charities you hope to team up with in the future?

    Given we’re in the business of helping our customers improve their homes, we like to support charities that enable those less fortunate to create environments of warmth and safety. We’re proud to have supported Furnishing Futures and Crisis through fundraising activity, often in line with our seasonal sales promotions.

    Furnishing Futures is a charity close to our heart, given that it operates in our local Waltham Forest borough, plus its new HQ is just a five-minute walk away from our own. Founded by Emily Wheeler, the charity supports women and children who are escaping situations of domestic violence, by furnishing their newly appointed social housing to a standard of which they can be proud.

    Series A investment from VC fund Beringea has permitted Plank Hardware to expand. Can you tell us about your investment journey and what your next steps are?

    We raised £2m in September 2021, which permitted us to build out our team of 22 employees today — not long before then, it really was just Annie and I! Beyond staffing, we’ve used the investment to fund category expansion (kitchen mixer taps launched in February this year), performance marketing and content creation.

    At the moment, we’re evaluating our options for taking further investment in the future. We have ambitious growth plans, which will be fuelled by new categories, market expansion and B2B growth. It’s a challenging landscape for fundraising right now, so we’re trying to get ahead in understanding our run rate, to ensure we’re not pressured into any time-sensitive decisions.

    After positive adoption in the US, what are Plank Hardware’s plans for the next year?

    2024 will see us launch new products, in new categories, that will help us to service more customers renovating their homes. Our mission is to create transformational design details for interiors around the world, so watch this space.

    Following on nicely, we want to reach more customers worldwide. So as to maintain focus, we intend to build upon the successes we’ve seen in the US, where our customers now shop via a dedicated website. We will apply our learnings from growth in the UK, as well as investing more in brand and marketing, to further localise our offering and establish us as the go-to hardware brand for stylish homeowners.