Entrepreneur

S'poreans Are Always Stressed, So This M'sian Startup Is Helping Us Chill Out - One Beanbag At A Time

In a time when a cool office is a huge plus point for the working millennial, functional furniture, while necessary, isn’t going to impress anyone.

More than just desks and chairs, these offices are now peppered with couches, beanbags, and the occasional hammock – all of which provide employees with alternative sitting areas.

Our office isn’t any different – we have a row of window seats and a bar counter by the counter, and for the times when working at the desk becomes too constrictive, we have a few neon-coloured beanbags to lounge on.

Us and our Doofs

But there’s something special about these brightly-hued clouds of beads – they’re actually from a brand that specialises solely in creating beanbags, and the team has begun their very strategic foray into Singapore spaces and offices.

Doof Industries, founded in Malaysia, has a simple mission – “to encourage people to live life less seriously”.

And this is evident from the website, all the way down to their products.

Doof’s products

I wanted to find out more about the people behind the bag, and their motivations, so I got in touch with Marcus from the team to find out more.

Doof – The Brainchild Of A Pair Of Lovers

Doofs in use at Mindvalley in KL / Image Credit: Doof

Founded by a pair of lovers, “a boy named Kelvin, who slogged in his advertising and branding agency, and a Doof girl who was in printing”, the idea stemmed from a personal experience as well.

While brainstorming for ideas for a client project, Kelvin wanted to find a beanbag to settle in, but found that the only beanbags they had “looked like they came out of his grandfather’s old cupboard”.

“Being a typical Malaysian, he complained to his Doof girl, and with their combined passion in branding and creative ideas, they put their heads together and soon, Doof was born.”

But as compared to just solving a personal pain point, the team from Doof have a greater mission – “to encourage people to live life less seriously, to take a chill pill, and look at the lighter side of life”. 

The Doof team

Since, the product range has expanded beyond beanbags, and they also sell t-shirts and duffel bags.

From Bazaars To Offices

Starting out as a weekend project where the team would simply spend their time ideating, copywriting, designing, and creating, Marcus revealed that as difficult as it was finding suppliers willing to create small quantities, it was still an experience he and the team truly appreciate.

“It was super fun to come out with our own brand and to dream about the possibilities of it. We were not conformed to strict corporate guidelines – no top management to please, no clients to answer to, except ourselves.”

“We wanted to create a brand that has an international appeal – the type that ‘got standard one’, haha!”

Doof at an event at Avenue K, KL

To get the word out about their brand, they sold the beanbags at bazaars and fairs on the weekend, and personally delivered their products to customers.

“One of the best part when starting up was delivering the bags to customers ourselves, and meeting and chatting with them. Some were so lovely they even invited us in for cookies!”

Soon, their beanbags starting appearing in offices, and even hotels, with Marcus revealing that there’s a Doof in each guest room of “a prominent hotel”.

On top of that, they have also done many corporate partnerships with notable MNCs in Malaysia.

AirAsia’s founder Tony Fernandes on a Doof
Popular singer Yuna on a Doof

But with success also comes challenges, and Marcus reveals that was a “very similar brand with a very similar name that launched about two years after [they] started”.

“We took it as compliment! Imitation is a form of flattery, no?”

And just like their company philosophy, the team is optimistic in the face of difficulties, and believe that there’s always a solution to every problem.

“It’s how we Doof it, one problem at a time.”

Even after more brands started coming up with similar products that compete on pricing with cheaper qualities and materials, they “stood firm with [their] quality, and most of all, the level of service that [they] uphold strictly”.

Appealing To Singaporeans And Startups

After their very successful run back home, the team decided to head south and set up base in Singapore, in what was deemed to be a “natural business decision”.

But what started as a partnership in 2009 eventually evolved to their finding another “fellow partner-in-Doof” (aka distributor) that they’re working closely with.

Setting up in an entirely foreign (literally as well) business landscape is tricky, though, but the team charged on:

“The cost of setting up in Singapore is definitely higher, and with the softer retail market this year, we have to thread carefully. But that’s all part and parcel of figuring the business out.”

Doofs in use at Mindvalley in KL / Image Credit: Doof

What’s also interesting (and extremely strategic) about the company is that they are specifically targeting media and IT companies, and also startups, best known for their unconventional spaces and furniture.

“It’s just [in line with] the whole startup culture, and companies are also now more open in providing a more relaxed, open space concept for the millennials to work in.”

“Brainstorming with your feet up and booty relaxed has proven to increase productivity. In fact, ‘studies’ have shown that Doof can increase 98.68% of your creativity! Of course, these ‘studies’ were done internally by the Doof team – haha!”

“Just Doof It”

Doof at an event at Publika, KL

When asked about their plans in Singapore, and some of the local offices (other than ours) that we could find them in, Marcus cheekily replied: “Let’s just say we are invading your spaces soon!”

“We’d just love to spread Doofiness to the Singaporeans and get them to chill and have fun!”

Given their strategy in Malaysia, which sees them making appearance in cool offices and events, perhaps this means that soon, we’ll be able relax on these comfy beanbags at popular spaces in Singapore as well!

A story of finding mainstream success while remaining loyal to its very positive values, the team at Doof is definitely a living example of this piece of advice to aspiring entrepreneurs – “Screw it, Just Doof it”.

Check out their comfy offerings here!

 

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