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The Moment I Thought We Might Not Make It
It was mid-2009 when Andrew Chris and his team were essentially out of cash, and on the brink of going under.
How We Turned it Around
Andrew Chris started OLighting in 2005, with a partner. At the time, he owned and ran another company, in the call center outsourcing space. In 2007, he successfully negotiated the sale of his first company and closed the deal in the 4th quarter. Finding himself at a professional crossroad, he ended up deciding that buying out his OLighting partner and focusing full time on the growth and development of the new business, was where his heart was guiding him. And so he did. Andrew hired a small staff, formulated a solid business plan, unified his team, and was more excited than ever about getting OLighting going in earnest. Much of late 2007 and early 2008 were devoted to developing systems, identifying suitable designers and brands to expand the OLighting collections, and in mid-to-late 2008, they were ready to launch their marketing efforts. Unfortunately, the economy started to nose dive. And worse yet, the business, was sitting in the eye of the economic storm given they specialized in high-end, luxury, construction-based products. As if this wasn’t bad enough, Andrew and his team were so excited and optimistic about their new business, that they refused to acknowledge how bad things really were until after they had burned through most of their cash.
Eventually, they reached a point where they had to decide whether they would shut down the business, or simply rethink, re-plan, and restart. They chose the latter. And it’s a good thing. OLighting has seen growth in revenue upward of 100% over last year. They recently opened a new NYC showroom at 40 Walker St in Tribeca, where they are featuring presentations by world renowned designer lighting brands including Moooi, Foscarini, Diesel, Artemide, and AXO Light. Additionally, at their current rate of expansion, OLighting.com will offer the widest selection of Modern + Designer Lighting in North America, by year-end. They are also planning the launch of their designer furniture division by mid 2011. And while they are proceeding with great caution, they are very optimistic about their future, short and long term.
- In looking back, there were economic indicators that should have been taken more seriously, much sooner than they were. This would have enabled us to preserve much-needed cash.
- However, each of our failures were only setbacks... setbacks that we took great lessons from. And in the end, we affirmed that regardless of failures and obstacles along the way - which will always be there - if our commitment remains strong enough, and we stay flexible and resilient in our approach, we will continue to see the vision unfold into reality.