This company is part of Executive’s Top 20 for 2015. Read more stories from our entrepreneurship in Lebanon section, for the latest analysis on the country’s ecosystem.
Industry: Furniture and design
Product: Modular assembly furniture
Product launch: 2016
Founders: Emile Arayes and Aline Gemayel
Modeo is a young startup launched in February 2015 which caters to individuals who wish to try their hand at furniture design. Formed by two working architects, Emile Arayes and Aline Gemayel, who were frustrated by the lack of low-budget assembly furniture, Modeo allows users to build custom plastic furniture through a mobile app interface, and uses geometric “interlocking modular parts” to assemble a range of pieces. The design can be viewed in a virtual interface before ordering, with sizing and color options, as either a 2D designed image or a 3D projection. The pieces are then delivered to the user’s door, and assembled in a similar IKEA-style flat-pack method. Having come second in the Bader Startup Challenge in May 2015, the company is now enrolled in the Speed@BDD acceleration program and developing its business plan and strategy, as well as improving the design of its final product.
Arayes and Gemayel are currently recruiting a business strategy partner who will monitor the manufacturing and distribution of the Modeo system and furniture product. They have guidelines to be environmentally friendly, and are constructing lightweight furniture pieces which can be reused and reassembled post initial construction. Their target is the mid-to-low end range market of furniture users, and they are using low-cost recyclable plastic material through the ‘lean startup model’ – iterating design of the product and improving prototypes through the needs of early customers.
Dealing with mobile apps, storage and distribution means that the company will need to recruit local talent, along with using local 3D printers to demonstrate the concept to investors. Plans for mass manufacturing are not yet finalized, but local 3D printing is helping Modeo to improve their model before they move to plastic injection models formed from aluminium molds.
Though their business plan is still going through stages of development, they stress that main sales will come through their app, and do not intend to host their furniture in showrooms, but only in exhibitions as a marketing ploy. Moneyback guarantees are also in place in their business strategy, should their furniture not satisfy individuals, which overcomes the initial ‘trust’ barrier. Their target client base are those who would use similar assembled furniture lines, such as IKEA which comes from outside of the region, yet they stress that their advantage over such manufacturers and unique selling point is the ability to both assemble and disassemble pieces easily, enabling users to reuse and repack the furniture when moving. Their projections estimate a sale of 16,000 average-size units in the first year of operations, generating roughly $1 million in revenue.