As a lover of vintage and antique furniture, Gordon Harpur was frustrated with how difficult it was to get his hands on genuine, good quality pieces at reasonable prices. There was no easy way for collectors and sellers to find eachother, other than visiting stuffy auction houses or sifting through piles of shoddy items to find that elusive gem, so he decided to come up with his own platform to fill this obvious gap. Here is is story.

Tell us more about Vintiqa

Vintiqa is a new platform where design lovers can buy, sell and fall in love with unique vintage and antique furniture from the best dealers and homes across the UK. We offer seamless service, handle payment and orchestrate delivery. We also offer returns.

Where are you based?

Vintiqa is based in London. I am from Belfast originally, but have lived in England for the last 8 years, of which 5 have been in London. I firmly believe it is the best city in the world. That is from a lifestyle perspective. In terms of starting a business, I could not think of anywhere better. There are so many facilities, one of my favourite being Google Campus. London is very startup friendly.

Who are your ideal customers?

Anyone who appreciates vintage, antique and unique furniture. We also sell quality pre-owned contemporary furniture. It’s a great resource for people when they are moving and want to find interesting pieces. We bring together items from all the best dealers and most beautiful homes across the UK in one place. Our customers have the ability to buy on a national scale, without the worry of arranging payment and delivery. We are also the only marketplace to offer a 48 hour return policy.

What’s Vintiqa’s unique selling point?

Vintiqa approves all items prior to posting on the site. This means buyers don’t have to spend hours sifting through loads of shoddy items to unearth a few gems, whilst sellers get to showcase their inventory in a premium (yet approachable) environment. This sets us apart from traditional marketplaces. In addition to this, we are disrupting the traditional antique directories, which charge dealers a monthly subscription to showcase their items. We turn this on the head, align our interests and charge 15% commission on every sale made through the platform. For this, we enhance listings, arrange payment & delivery and promote your items to our database of well-heeled furniture buyers.

How long have you been working on this project and where would you say it is at present?

The platform and business model was in planning for around 4 months. We officially launched in late August 2015, so we are a couple of months in. We are currently inviting all the best dealers across the UK and some are starting to showcase their items. The website is live and the first sales are starting to come though.

How is the project funded? Do you have angels or VCs backing Vintiqa?

To date I have funded the business myself. I’m not ruling out any method of funding going forward. I am a big supporter of crowdfunding and do a lot of investing myself. I’m also actively looking for a co-founder to join me on the journey. Someone with strong connections in the vintage or antiques industry who shares my vision. We are growing fast and I need another hand on deck to help drive the platform.

vintiqa homepage

Tell us a bit about where did this idea come from

Searching for preowned furniture on existing platforms is tedious and the vast majority of times fruitless.  Specialist auction houses are stuffy and overpriced. The current offering just doesn’t work optimally for either side of the transaction. I experienced this first hand when trying to furnish my own home with interesting items. Then I experienced the other side when trying to sell all these items I had accumulated. The market for preowned furniture is illiquid and we aim to disrupt that and take it mainstream.

I spent some time buying and restoring furniture and I was always getting asked to source certain styles and items. The demand is there, and I knew where to find all these great items, but there is just no existing platform that connects the correct audience with the best furniture.

What sort of personal background do you have?

I’ve worked in banking for the last 5 years, have always had a strong interest in business. I started actively investing in start-ups over the past 2 years. This sparked my entrepreneurial spirit again. I want to create something that can disrupt the furniture market for the better. For too long, flat pack from China has been the norm. It has its place, but I believe buying vintage and pre-owned is much more exciting and therapeutic.  Also, it holds its value.

Do you have any role model that inspired you or motivated you starting this project?

Not one particular person that I can pinpoint. I am inspired by what has gone on in the London tech scene in the last 5 years. Businesses like Crowdcube and Funding Circle that have built hugely disruptive businesses from the ground up in such a short period of time. They are essentially marketplaces. Marketplaces are disrupting every industry, Funding circle for loans, Uber for taxis, AirBNB for a place to stay. The list goes on.

Tell us about the most exciting moment to date with Vintiqa

Within 2 weeks of launch and organic marketing only, we received in excess of 20 dealers signing up their interest to join the platform. Vintiqa is growing fast with new sellers beginning to list their collections. Transactions have started and we now embark on an exciting stage of showcasing all our unique finds to design savvy buyers across the UK. We have received lots of press enquiries from various magazines, this is exciting because it will allow me to reach the customer.

What about the toughest moment?

Designing the entire platform from the bottom up. Everything had to be perfect. I’m not a developer so a lot of this had to be contracted out. It was an extremely challenging time. Trying to project manage a team of developers is not something I would recommend for a non techie. Luckily now, I have one senior developer who is amazing and can fix any problems at a moment’s notice.

Where would you like to see the platform grow in the next few years?

Partnering with the vast majority of furniture dealers across the UK and Europe, to bring vintage and antique into the mainstream. Most importantly, to make it as easy to sell as it is to buy. Furniture and home interiors can finally become an investment, rather than an expensive burden.

Finally, what would be your one piece of advice for someone starting a new business?

Launch early, don’t be afraid if your product is not perfect initially, people are generally forgiving. You will learn so much from initial mistakes and failings. It is normal that things go wrong. Build from it and adjust.

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