Friday, December 9, 2022

Believe yourself

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Sabine Elsässer
Sabine Elsässer is founder and chief editor of the StartupValleyNews Magazine. She started her career at several international direct sale companys. Since 2007 she works main time as a journalist. While that time she learned more about the Startup Scene, what made her start her own Startup Magazine the StartupValleyNews.

COAT paint company: sustainably produced paint in modern muted shades- everything you need to decorate

Please introduce yourself and COAT to our readers!

I’m Rob, one of the co-founders at COAT. (The other founder is called Rob, too!). We’re a digital paint brand for this generation, and the next – focusing on simplicity, style, and changing the game in sustainable decor.

How did you get the idea of COAT?

Rob and I both did up houses in our 30’s, and it became a running joke how long we spent in DIY stores. Buying tester pots, stressing over colours, going back to buy paint, then back for more…. incredibly time consuming, and wasteful. We make that whole buying process super easy, with a modern luxury brand that’s deeply conscious too.

Why did you decide to start COAT?

I worked for BMW and a few startups in my career, so I know the power of strong brands, and how to grow companies quickly. Rob Green worked for the world’s biggest paint company, so what he doesn’t know about paint isn’t worth knowing!

Between us, we knew there was a consumer problem based on our own experiences – and we knew that the paint industry wasn’t positioned to solve it. We also saw a real brand gap in the “modern luxury” space, with deeply conscious foundations. It was the perfect marriage foundation for COAT.

What is the vision behind COAT?

We’re the go-to paint company for our generation, and the next. We want people to think of COAT first, because we stand for the easy and simplicity that makes painting fun – and the planet-first values that make it right.

How difficult was the start and which challenges you had to overcome?

We started the business and operations ourselves, just the two of us, from a roll-up unit in Surrey. That’s everything from building the brand and website, through to mixing and shipping paint directly to customers.

We even painted thousands of Peel & Stick swatches ourselves for the first 6 months or so…

All the above was difficult! Getting interest from suppliers as a pre-product business, during lockdown, was hard. Setting up a unique production system that’s small but scalable, was hard. And of course, launching the brand to the world and getting our vision in front of people, was hard.

We’re in a great place now of course, but I think all of that is down to our individual expertise and commitment to getting things moving. 

Who is your target audience?

Our generation, and the next. We’re focused on homeowners, aspiring to create beautiful spaces that are kind to humans and the planet. Something that I think resonates with everyone, but particularly millennial and Gen Z audiences – if you had to put boxes around things!

What is the USP of your startup?

Our strength isn’t one thing – it’s the sum of our parts. Yes, we’re leading the charge in environmental responsibility, with unique production zero-waste models and all the certification you can muster… And sure, we’re putting ourselves firmly in the style space for ‘modern tastemakers’ with a curated colour range and deliberate aesthetic. But honestly, we’re strong and different because we keep things simple. Paint, done better.

Can you describe your typical workday?

Erm, I’m not sure typical exists for me at this point! I’m in the office 3 or 4 days a week, which I think is important given the stage of business and how we like to communicate as a team. 

Half of the day might be meetings, centred around some core ones like team stand ups and leadership sessions. The work environment is quite fun – we might be shooting social content in the office or painting out new paint colours on the board table. We’re all based in one place so the spectrum of conversations can be anything from a customer service call through to financial forecasting.

I think that’s the best thing about my role – the dynamism and constant change. That’s why I (and Rob G) left corporate. Having said that, sometimes I think it’s the worst thing, and crave a 9-5. But that’s usually fleeting.

Where do you see yourself and your startup COAT in five years?

COAT will be huge by then. In the face of every challenge, you face as a founder, that belief is what gets me through. We’re doing something special, with a brand that resonates, in a space that’s super dusty.

Personally, who knows! I’m big into coaching and quite self-aware – but I’m very much in the moment with COAT right now, so let’s see how the waves ebb-and-flow over the coming months/years.

What 3 tips would you give to founders?

Pick a lane and stay in it. That sounds like it contradicts the principles of being a dynamic/agile/insert-buzz-word startup – but it doesn’t. You started a business for a reason, so keep going back to that reason and change the ‘how’ not the ‘what’. We do paint – really well – and that’s it.

Say no. Similar to the above point and verging on cliché – but saying no and prioritising is tough. There’s always some shiny opportunity, or the “what if” things that come along, but it’s important to keep focus on the things that drive the goal. The world isn’t short of opportunities, but the execution is the critical bit.

Believe yourself. I still struggle with imposter syndrome and wanting to over-analyse everything. I ask too many people for their opinion, which is rarely helpful. I’ve realised that I do know what I’m talking about a lot of the time – through coaching. So, trusting intuition can be the route to speed and differentiation in the business.

Picture: left to right Rob Abrahams and Rob Green

More information you will find here

Thank you Rob Abrahams for the Interview

Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.

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