Best known as: Founder of DefySupply.com
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Brent Gensler's Success StoryFounder of DefySupply.com
Do you ever walk through a store and wonder why products cost so much money? Further, why do two similar items often have such dramatic price differences? These types of curious questions are what led Brent Gensler to create DefySupply.com. The success the site has received is impressive to say the least as they have found a tremendous niche in the home furnishings industry.What would lead a young guy, fresh out of college, to go into the furniture industry? While at the University of Wisconsin-Madison he would spend his summers in China sourcing upholstery fabric for his family’s business. By traveling through all remote parts of China, he soon became acquainted with many of the large fabric manufacturers. Through these relationships he then was introduced to fabric’s complementary industries, furniture being one of them. In his spare time he would visit the furniture factories simply out of curiosity and didn’t think much else of it.
After finishing college, he was trying to furnish his new apartment and couldn’t believe how expensive furniture was. In an attempt to spend less on a sofa, he called a few of the manufacturers he knew and asked if they could make him a sofa or two. When he realized the incredible difference in price between what the factories were making the items for…and what they were being sold for in the stores…he knew there was a market to be had.
For months he read everything he could get his hands on related to logistics, international tariffs, packaging efficiencies, currency fluctuations, etc. etc. About six months later in May 2008, the site was launched.
In theory, what DefySupply does is fairly straight forward. They buy directly from global manufacturers. This “buying direct” model is so often over-used that it has become a bit of a cliché. In reality though, it is extremely rare to work directly with these global manufacturers due to: language barriers, cultural differences, logistics, quality controls, and so on. So how does the online furniture industry currently operate?
Says Gensler “If you take a look at nearly all e-commerce furniture sites, you’ll see that they are all selling the same products, from the same wholesalers. The industry is over-saturated with glorified drop-shippers like this. The wholesalers usually don’t even work directly with the manufacturers. This results in a bunch of companies, all selling the same products, for way too high of prices”
In contrast, by visiting DefySupply.com, you’ll notice a few things. One is that they have an almost unlimited product selection as they have nearly 4,000 SKUs. As Gensler explains “Robust selection is key. There will always be the customer who wants, for example, a 4-pieced light blue leather sectional sofa with wooden legs, and we should be able to provide it for them” Another thing to notice on the site is how exceptionally low the prices are. Take a 3-Pieced Leather Sofa Set that the sell for $1,500 (with free shipping). $1,500 seems like a lot of money in absolute terms, but when you compare it to other companies selling the same, or similar, items, DefySupply.com’s prices are consistently about 50% less expensive. That’s a substantial savings, especially for big-ticket purchases like furniture.
Since launch, the company has seen substantial growth and have been featured in Portfolio, Minneapolis Star Tribune as well as being named a finalist in Bloomberg’s annual “Top 25 Entrepreneurs under 25”. Quite a success story for a 25-year-old!
As a recent addition to their product offering, DefySupply.com has entered into the lighting as well as the flooring businesses. Gensler remains highly optimistic about the future direction of the company. As he states “furniture is not a fad. It isn’t going anywhere. It’s a staple industry” It appears that DefySupply.com will continue its growth and will gain market share due to their innovative business model and product offering.
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