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How Twin Brothers from Western Canada Founded 2 Rapidly-Growing Direct-to-Consumer Home Furnishings Brands

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Andy and Sam Prochazka have been in business together since Grade 11 in Edmonton, selling candy out of their lockers when they saw the school had a monopoly on the snack market.

Today, the twin brothers, who are 40, are successful owners and operators of two very profitable online businesses in Canada that have been growing at a rapid pace.

Edmonton-based GoodMorning.com, where Sam is President and CEO, was started in 2009 as one of the first direct to consumer online mattress companies with about $40 million in sales in 2019.

Vancouver-based Article, where Andy is Co-founder and COO, was launched in 2013 and is a direct to consumer furniture brand grossing more than $100 million in annual revenue.

CANADIAN-BASED COMPANIES GOODMORNING.COM & ARTICLE HAVE EXPERIENCED SIGNIFICANT GROWTH AMID COVID-19 PANDEMIC

GOODMORNING.COM MATTRESS DELIVERY. PHOTO: GOODMORNING.COM

Both businesses have experienced further and significant growth since the pandemic hit in March. Both companies just made the Globe & Mail’s list of Canada’s Top Growing Companies, a ranking conducted by Report on Business magazine.

Canada’s Top Growing Companies ranks Canadian companies on three-year revenue growth. GoodMorning.com earned its spot with a three-year growth of 398 percent. Of the 400 companies selected, GoodMorning.com placed No. 123 and is one of only seven companies from Edmonton who made the list. Article earned its spot with a three-year growth of 460 percent. Of the 400 companies selected, Article placed No. 108.

“At GoodMorning.com it really started as what — I believed at that time — was soon to become an obsolete shopping experience. I walked into a mattress store, got a high-pressure commission-driven sales pitch justifying an extortionate price tag, was not provided any kind of risk-free experience, and walked away from that pretty sour. And I realized there had to be a better way — it was pretty obvious there was a better way — and so I put together this business model. Doing it online is a big part of a better way,” said Sam, who is also Co-Founder and Director at Article.

“We have a propensity to be slightly reclusive ourselves, I think. So this notion of being able to control your experience without the high-pressure sales environment, and the  awkwardness of going into a shop and trying to imagine how those products would manifest in your own environment — without actually being in your own environment — is an uncomfortable experience,” added Andy, who is also Co-Founder and Director of GoodMorning.com. “The economics and the savings of not having to maintain those expensive showrooms, and the personnel, and all the inevitable complexities that a company does — we can take those costs and focus on the value chain, on better prices, better sourcing, more direct-from-factory to the customer’s house. We can just make that experience a lot better.”

The roots of their entrepreneurial spirit comes from their grandfather from Australia, but originally from the Czech Republic, who started an import business importing frozen fish from Europe. Frozen food at the time — right after the Second World War — was a new thing in Australia and it became successful. So the twins grew up with that impression left by their grandfather.

“In high school, Andy and I opened our first company, selling candy bars from our lockers. Pop and chips. That was surprisingly successful actually. I think after that we were a bit hooked to it. It just seemed like there was a lot of opportunity to contribute, offer value, and get into that value chain in society,” said Sam.

“There’s something about competition and finding these opportunities out there that exist everywhere. There’s always opportunity and there’s always areas that are being served sub-optimally in the market. It’s innate, I think, seeking those opportunities out and answering them. Kind of comforting actually, I think.”

ARTICLE DINING ROOM INTERIOR. PHOTO: ARTICLE
ARTICLE LIVING ROOM INTERIOR. PHOTO: ARTICLE

The brothers went to Old Strathcona High School in Edmonton and then both received degrees in computer engineering from the University of Alberta.

These are indeed tough economic times for most entrepreneurs in the country as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to take an economic toll everywhere. How do they as entrepreneurs get through these times?

“As an entrepreneur, in my experience, you’re always pushing into uncertainty. We’re in a state of particularly high uncertainty presently because of the macro events. The real key here — and I wish I could tell my 20 years-ago-self more vehemently that if you focus on your customer — and you make sure you actually listen to your customer and do away with your own internal voices as to what you think the customer wants — and deliver the value that they’re asking for, that can be your North Star. Then you’ll make it through these kinds of times,” explained Andy.

“I have to agree with Andy,” said Sam. “The only other thing I will add to it is we find ourselves in these online businesses so we’re in many respects very fortunate. But there are a lot of businesses out there that are not as fortunate as we are. We are still able to sell during this time and supply our customers with what they need. That’s certainly working in our favour. And I think that this period of uncertainty has largely accelerated the adoption of the types of businesses that we’re in. In many respects, we will benefit to some degree out of this. But the good thing, I think, in these periods of adversity and with the way that the free market works, is that there will be opportunities that come out of this that we can’t imagine right now. And they will evolve over time. And so I’m excited to see what those are.”

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior National Business Journalist with Retail Insider in addition to working on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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