Ebun is the Founder of Oxfurnished, a platform to revolutionise and provide environmentally-friendly furniture options for short-term use. She completed the Bachelor of Civil Law in 2019 before moving to London as an Exhibition Scholar of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple for the Bar Professional Training Course. Oxfurnished is one of the two business projects that she is currently working on. Buyers can purchase items of furniture at discounted prices proportionate to the intended length of use. These items are bought back, collected, repaired and sold to the next customer thus, providing an alternative to the expensive furniture rental market and a sustainable ecosystem for the acquisition and disposal of furniture items.
What is your background? What made you decide to become an entrepreneur?
I was born and raised in Nigeria until the age of 16 when I moved to England to start my law degree. I think my entrepreneurial ideas first came as a child wanting to avoid house chores. I always wondered why there weren’t systems or machines in place to perform the tasks. With this mindset, I grew up identifying frustrating things that we have
grown accustomed to and I would think of creative ways to solve them. Studying law sharpened my problem-solving skills and I find that there are many
similarities between a career as a barrister and an entrepreneur. Covid-19 lockdown created an impetus for creative thinking and ground for testing out my business ideas. After receiving confirmation from potential customers and business mentors, I finally decided that this path was worth exploring.
What is your definition of entrepreneurship?
Excellently executed experiments. It is really an experiment to see whether your idea is accepted by your target customer as a solution to their problem and deemed worthy of their money. It goes a step beyond theoretical problem-solving which we learn in school. As an entrepreneur, your job is to execute the solution.
How and when did you know your idea was good enough to develop it?
I recognised that there was a gap three years ago. As an international student, I was extremely frustrated to fork out huge sums to buy new items for the unfurnished flat that my sister and I shared. This problem re-emerged when we finished our degrees and had to pay a waste collection service to get rid of valuable and perfectly usable items. I have since moved to two cities and faced the same problem of acquiring and disposing of furniture after short-term use. There are hundreds of thousands of international students, travellers and visitors in need of furniture items to make their space comfortable and functional for a short period. The furniture market has failed to keep up with the migratory lifestyle of 21st-century consumers, at least pre-Covid. Furniture rentals are as expensive as buying brand new items. When you are lucky enough to find the item put up for sale by a second-hand seller, you are faced with collection and delivery difficulties. This results in the purchase of new items and a third of people throwing away furniture in good enough condition that they could be re-used, sold or donated. These items, unfortunately, end up in a landfill. After receiving feedback from many students and business mentors, I knew that the idea was good enough to develop it.
What would you say are the top 3 skills that needed to be a successful entrepreneur? Why?
Versatility, tenacity and creativity. Versatility because you have to be both generalist and specialist in the problem which you are trying to solve. As a one-man business, I wear all the hats from being a social media manager to liaising with suppliers, managing the website and drafting the contracts (thanks to my legal knowledge!). Tenacity is important because there will be hurdles and bumps on the road. Lastly, when these hurdles are posed, you must be able to think creatively to find solutions. I believe that these skills are critical to excellently executing your experiment, whatever that may be.
What is your favourite part of being an entrepreneur?
I love challenges and adventures. Being an entrepreneur gives me an opportunity to present and execute ideas that can change the world, the way we live or how we view our resources and responsibilities.
What individual, company or organization inspires you most? Why?
I have great admiration for the Founders of Olio because I wish I came up with the idea. Just like Oxfurnished, Olio redresses the problem of waste and lack of access to much-needed resources. In their case, it is food!
If you had 5 minutes with the above individual/ company/organization, what would you want to ask or discuss?
I would discuss collaboration opportunities given an alignment in the ethos of both companies.
What has been your most satisfying or successful moment in business?
My birthday. That was the day that I launched Oxfurnished. I promised myself to graduate from being a mere dreamer to an actual doer. I felt immense satisfaction the moment that I realised that my intangible idea is not only tangible but functional.
What would you say have been some of your mistakes, failures or lessons learned as an entrepreneur?
I learned to think laterally and not isolate my legal knowledge. The Oxfurnished business model is essentially a repurchase transaction which I learned in Financial Law. Repos, as they are known, are mostly used by financial institutions trading securities. I borrowed that knowledge and applied it in a novel way to the sale of tangible furniture items.
How have you funded your ideas?
Are there any sector-specific awards/grants/competitions that have helped you?
The Santander Grant is great if you are a student.
What is good about being an entrepreneur in Oxfordshire? Bad?
For a business like Oxfurnished, it is a fantastic location. Oxford benefits from two universities with a large population of international students, tourists and visitors requiring items of
furniture for temporary use.
If a new entrepreneur or startup came to you looking for entrepreneurship resources, where would you send them?
You are already in the right place!
Any last words of advice?
I believe that the greatest ‘crime’ one could commit is to have a beneficial idea, talent or thought and not share it with the world because you are afraid of ‘failure’.