Back in 2013, San Francisco entrepreneurs Jennifer Chong and Roman Khan discovered a small gap in a small market. Where was one supposed to find a soft leather briefcase, crafted meticulously from quality materials? Was it just them or were others lacking this essential business accessory?
StyleForum, a Reddit-like platform that attracts a stylish crowd of male perfectionists, had the answers. It turns out others, too, were lusting after a beautiful briefcase that would last years without costing thousands. They discussed their desired colour, strap thickness, size… the perfect focus group!
And that was that. Chong and Khan began sourcing the best quality vegetable-tanned leather and an Italian craftsman that could create a minimalist, seamless design. They called their company Linjer—the Norwegian word for “lines”. They even quit their jobs and moved to Florence so they could oversee every last step of production.
As for funding, well, they already knew their potential buyers. So they turned to crowdfunding and in 40 days managed to generate $150,000 in orders! It was a winning formula as they began crowdfunding more bags, watches, wallets and cardholders. The $425 “Tulip” bag had $600,000 in pre-sales and a 2,500-person waiting list.
These days, Linjer is less of an under-the radar startup. With $10 million in annual sales, flattery from Vogue and a cult-like following, it’s fair to say they’re hot property. But more importantly, private property.
Linjer founders Roman Khan and Jennifer Chong.
GO WITH THE CROWD
You may think every project begins with a deep analysis of what people need. Wrong. In real life, we get so excited, distracted and impatient for success that 42%* of unsuccessful founders fail at this very step. Launch safely!
© Story by Tarek Issa.