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Campaign of the Week: FreedMan

The Story The campaign of the week this time round is The FreedMan – a revolutionary office chair that tackles the many problems of prolongued sitting.

a man holding a large telescope

The FreedMan Chair is designed to alleviate and prevent back pain. The structure of the chair is better suited to the human body’s inherent anatomical structure and thus promotes a more healthy style of sitting. The product has been developed over 17 years by osteopath and inventor Simon Freedman. There’s been a number of reports within the press lately about how sitting all day long is “killing” people. Those claims centre around research which claims that sitting for extended periods of time, particularly when hunched forwards over a computer screen, can indeed shorten your lifespan.

That’s where the FreedMan comes in. The chair allows its passenger to sit whilst maintaining the posture of a standing person. Its design accommodates the natural curvatures in the human physique in a way that is far superior and far more beneficial health-wise than the standard chair.

The Freedman Chair already raised a hefty sum of £340,000 via Kickstarter back in November 2013. Now its returned to the world of crowdfunding for an even bigger, equity-based fundraise.

The Investment Opportunity

  • The Freedman is trying to raise £900,000 in exchange for 37% equity.

  • The company is being valued at £2.4 million.

  • According to the pitch, each chair will be priced somewhere between $1,200 and $1,500.

  • The company anticipates generating revenues next year. It is obligated to deliver 2,250 units to Kickstarter supporters, after which it expects to sell a further 1,070 units.

  • In 2016 FreedMan expects 10,000 units to be sold. That means that revenues should probably be somewhere between $12m and $15m (or roughly £9m). Confusingly, however, revenues for 2016 are listed at just £2.4m. 

  • Another lingering question relates to FreedMan’s anticipated market penetration of 4.8% by year 3. That’s a 4.8% encroachment into the 500,000 chairs a year sold globally for a price between $1,200 and $1,500. But the penetration should really be worked out as a percentage of the number of similarly styled, orthopedic office chairs sold a year. FreedMan may be pitching the chair as a revolutionary everyday piece of furniture, but potential purchasers may view it as much more of a specialist product. This might mean that FreedMan has overestimated its revenues.

  • The valuation is really quite attractive based on projected revenues – 1x year 2 revenues and roughly 0.5x 2017 revenues.

  • The addressable market is vast and the FreedMan chair could be a game-changer if widely-adopted.

The Tech-Take by Oli Batchelor

Anyone who has worked in an office for any amount of time will know the importance of a good chair that is configured properly. But even the best set-up can lead to some quite horrific pain as human evolution has not yet caught up with the fact that many of us are no longer spending our time outdoors but on our backsides instead. When you line up office chairs side by side they don’t seem to have changed much over the years. Sure, there have been some beautiful looking designs out there, they’ve become more adjustable and claim to provide more support, but it can still seem to the numb bums and sore backs like there’s a long way to go.

The FreedMan Chair could just be the next chair every office will not be able to do without. And that’s a big market - especially if you consider the implications for those companies seen not to be adopting the latest technology to maintain their employees’ health. They’ve already gained a lot of momentum with a successful Kickstarter campaign behind them as well as huge amount of positive media attention. The team behind the chair all look like the ideal people to be involved with the project - in particular Mr Freedman himself who seems to have made this project the culmination of his life's work. So, assuming that this chair can prove that it is as ground breaking as its designers claims, it just looks like a matter of time before the chair becomes as ubiquitous as those white plastic stacks seen at so many a garden party.

Campaign Breakdown

Fundraising target: £900,039

Amount invested: £365,744

Equity offered: 37%

Number of investors committed so far: 16

Day left: 58

Tax relief: EIS

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