Nathan from Harmoni - Bee More Manchester - 014
Episode 14 is about a back problem that turned into a chance meeting with a start up business in Manchester, that designed a standing desk, that fits every table. A business that started as we went into a pandemic and is now flying. A German that calls Manchester home.
For those that aren’t familiar with the series, I’ve decided to do a take on ‘Humans of New York’ but for people who call Manchester home.
Bee More MCR will try and tell the story of this incredible city and all the people who contribute to it being the fastest growing city in Europe.
So how does this work? I will get each person to tell me their story in their own words of how they got to where they are today. I will share that story along with some photos for context.
Each person featured will then be asked the same question – Why Manchester?
When Nathan first moved to the UK, he worked in marketing for a large agency in London, for clients such as Asos. It was never his plan to come to the UK, he thought he would end up in New York or San Fransisco. With a big decision to make, the offer to join the Hut Group in the North West was too much to turn down.
Nathan visited to New York and he realised it wasn’t right. On a visit to Manchester, he said it just felt much younger, more affordable and it was growing rapidly.
When he joined the Hut Group, it was a fast paced, dynamic and growing business where he didn’t have a dedicated desk or chair on his first day. Nathan has always had back problems from an accident when he was younger, so this definitely wouldn’t help his issue.
Being from Stuttgart, Nathan realised there was a huge German history in Manchester, particularly coming to the city to start their businesses (noting Charles Halle who the Orchestra is named after.) He really feels like Ancoats is the birthplace of Manchester Entrepreneurship. Nathan loves Manchester for the fact it just encourages you to make something out of your life.
Back in Stuttgart, Nathan always studied marketing and business.
Nathan, who is strong on marketing and e-commerce, with the help of some friends who were strong on business strategy and product design, together created Harmoni.
Standing desks are expensive, big and you can’t switch between standing and sitting very easily. So the team quickly said, we need to solve this problem. Especially as when the standing desk is up, the screen and the keyboard or mouse, end up on the same level, which doesn’t really fix the issue.
Within 2 days, the team used 3D software to develop the product and design it while finding renewable wood suppliers to acquire the best quality material for the prototype.
The plan was to get a renewable product, that wouldn’t take 3 weeks from a manufacturer in China to wherever the customer is based in the world. Harmoni work with local manufacturers and suppliers in Europe, the UK and even have a dedicated workshop in Canada.
I asked Nathan why the brand is called Harmoni, he said the concept is around trying to find a harmony between work and home life in the best way possible. I’ve always tried to separate home life and work life in the lockdowns but Nathan looks at it from a completely different perspective.
The product launched in August 2020, in the middle of a global pandemic. From December 2020 to January 2020 they tripled the size of the business. Harmoni didn’t launch to meet the demand of people working from home in a lockdown, the team believe that the way we work will change forever.
I actually agree with this, from a hygiene perspective, I don’t think humans will ever interact the same way again. How we work will change including having your own equipment and a clean space to work, whether that’s in a co-working space or a traditional office.
There will definitely be a shift in the future where we split our time between working from home and working from a collaborative space. Nathan feels like Harmoni will be a part of this as they start to work with more corporate customers.
Nathan and the team have thought of everything, down to the lacquer used on the wood to make sure it is recyclable and the smell of the cork non slip mats they hope to offer soon.
No one goes into this level of detail if they aren’t passionate about what they are doing. I genuinely can’t wait to see how far this brand goes as they introduce new products in the future.
Really appreciate Nathan for sitting down with me for this interview. You can find Harmoni on social media here @harmoni.desk . Make sure you check them out and follow their story.