A few weeks ago, we held our second Talks @ Spaceship event for 2019, where our very own Jessica Sier had a fireside chat with Dany Milham, the co-founder of Koala.
Dany shared some unconventional wisdom and told us about some of the madcap ideas that fuelled Koala’s growth, especially in advertising. He didn’t hesitate to admit having “a few beers” has led to some of Koala’s more offbeat moments. And he told anyone looking for growth tips to “find out where their customers are” and double-down on marketing in that place.
So, you could say the night was a thumping success. If you couldn’t make it, the livestream is here, or you can read on for our list of the best things we learned from Koala.
1. Marketing is everything
It’s no secret Koala has set itself apart with its marketing. They make hilarious billboards and videos, on the regular. Dany says they receive an average of one official complaint a week. And not even the Koala teams always knows which ads will make it big. In fact, they didn’t even think they would use this wine video, yet it turned out to be one of their biggest ads.
Of course, marketing isn’t limited to advertising. In the early days, Dany and Mitch had a few beers one night and decided to respond to every comment on Facebook. Some of their responses were just links to other videos. After 6,000 comments though, they had to admit that despite their liquid courage, it just wasn’t going to be possible. Either way, customers loved the personal touch and that was a big way Koala set itself apart in the early days.
2. Koala wants to be a full furniture company
Koala started with a single product, the mattress. But the vision has always been to create an Australian-born and Australian-bred Ikea competitor. Which means: more products are on the way! While he didn’t give exact details, we do know a chest of drawers — that Koala aims to have delivered to a customer in four hours and assembled by a customer in five minutes, with no tools — is on the cards.
3. Every product has to fit four values
Easy to buy. Easy to use. Easy to try. Easy to love. Those are the four values that every product Koala creates — or plans to create — has to live up to.
4. In the beginning, the founders did everything
Dany and his co-founder Mitch Taylor did everything in the beginning — and it has served them well. But Dany did recount an amusing story from the early days. They had a brand-new warehouse, stacked tall with mattresses. Dany and Mitch looked at all the mattresses and figured they’d just roll them up and place them in the mattress boxes themselves. Six hours later, they had managed to do about 30 mattresses total. Though they pride themselves in being hands on, sometimes you have to know when you can’t do it all.
5. They allocate marketing budget to trying new things
Dany revealed some of Koala’s best advertisements have come from experimenting — often after a few beers. Now, Koala sets budget aside so they have the liberty to act as guinea pigs.
6. The blimp is coming
Koala has advertised in a bunch of places, from billboards to online. But the one thing they haven’t done yet is a blimp. Never fear; according to Dany, a blimp is in the works.
7. Koala doesn’t mind returns
Koala offers a risk-free, 120-night trial on every product. If you don’t love it, you can ship it back for a full refund. And they have no qualms with that. Because when you do, they’ll send you a questionnaire, and when you answer it, Koala gains valuable insights into what it could do better. And that’s why we think Koala is able up its game.
8. Creativity can come from anywhere
The Koala team fosters creativity by allowing everyone to have a voice. If you have an idea, they want you to talk about it. In fact, we think many of their best advertising ideas arise after talking with the customer service team, who hear directly from Koala’s fans. Oh, and dogs. It’s a dog-friendly office, and apparently when dogs visit, ideas are born.
And one last thing. Koala has partnered with the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) to help habitats thrive. When you buy a koala mattress or sofa, you're also adopting an endangered koala or turtle through the partnership. That’s alright with us!