Mjuk, a Finnish furniture re-commerce shop, has raised €2.5 million to deal with the growing problem of furniture waste and ensure the best prices for customers. The investors included Trind VC, Alliance VC, Superhero Capital, Lifeline Ventures, and several angel investors. The company plans to continue their growth towards profitability while further strengthening the brand’s reputation with businesses and customers.
Most people occasionally buy new furniture, and perhaps sell or donate older items, but may not realise that furniture waste is a significant issue. TFN asked Mjuk co-founder and CEO Rickard Zilliacus about the furniture problem, and Mjuk’s approach.
A hands-on founding story
When many founding stories begin deep in research or spinning out from other startups, Zilliacus’ started with a much more hands-on approach. “Mjuk started when co-founder Max Heino and I started testing the idea in Finland by buying second-hand furniture ourselves and selling it with a profit,” says Zilliacus. And the process involved significant work. The duo would collect, process, sell, and then deliver the furniture. “My flat was pretty full of furniture during that time!” Zilliacus added.
The pair formally launched Mjuk in 2019, increasing their staff, acquiring warehouse facilities and developing online sales. They have seen 100% revenue growth each year since, taking €3 million in 2022, proving the strong demand for lower-cost furniture.
It also addresses a global problem. “Millions of tons of furniture are burned or tossed into landfills every single year,” says Reima Linnanvirta, Partner at Trind VC. “Mjuk tackles this by giving a second life to quality products.” In the US, an Environmental Protection Agency report found that nearly nine million tons of furniture was being landfilled every year by 2018, and the problem has been accelerated by the Covid pandemic and behaviour changes afterwards, which promoted home decoration changes.
“The problem is comparable in the EU to the US,” Zilliacus told us. “In the EU, almost eleven million tons of furniture goes to waste each year.” And that’s a lot of furniture, “an average sofa weighs around 40-80 kg, and dining tables around 50 kg, so around 20 of each makes a ton.” And when much of that waste is every buried or burned, it’s easy to see how it has a significant environmental impact.
This furniture is not just coming from consumers, though. The nature of the furniture business, with large products across a range of price points, meant that many brands would be left with stock and returned products that were close to sell within their existing infrastructure, and were costly to warehouse until buyers emerged.
As well as retailers, Mjuk also works with real estate companies and manufacturers. It means that Mjuk’s shoppers might find themselves buying furniture that was no longer needed after a refurbishment or renovation, or even a prototype made during a model’s development.
An end-to-end marketplace
Although Mjuk has moved on from its early days, it still provides a full service. “We have warehouse spaces and hired drivers in both Sweden and Finland and do most of the operation in-house. It does take up a lot of space and manpower, but it’s also the way to make the process as easy as possible both for those who want to get rid of excess furniture, and people who want to buy it,” Zilliacus explained. Mjuk’s team will collect the furniture, then market it using professional studio photos, before selling and delivering it.
Mjuk point to their customer satisfaction rates, currently at 4.1/5 and raising, which they say indicate both the popularity and the satisfaction of their service.
The team now includes the three co-founders, Zilliacus and Heino were joined by Casper von Pfaler, and around 30 other team members spread across Finland and Sweden. The growth has also allowed the founders to start specialising, “in the beginning, we were jack-of-all-trades by necessity,” says Zilliacus. “Now I focus mostly on operations and fundraising, Max on growth, and Casper on the tech.”
Mjuk’s ambition is to disrupt the furniture business, helping avoid fast furniture becoming as harmful to the environment as fast fashion, with a level of convenience that means people ask ‘Have you checked Mjuk?’ before they make any purchase.
Their first step will be to use their latest funding to consolidate their position, says Zilliacus. “Our short- to mid-term plan is to keep expanding in Finland and Sweden. In the future, we are naturally aiming to be the quality furniture re-commerce category leader in Europe.”