As the age-old saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention.
Just ask Michael Keelan and Max Fox, the founders of Dublin-based business Flying Elephant, a company that practically invented their way out of the pandemic.
Flying Elephant began its life as an event management company in 2015. There was work aplenty with all the events and festivals which were popping up all over the country -- that was of course until Covid-19 put a stop to them all.
"We built festival bars, event props and exhibitions. All sorts of everything but all based around people and events," says Keelan. "All the activations for different drink brands and different sponsors."
The arrival of Covid-19 curtailed the events in the country and the team at Flying Elephant were left looking at themselves in an empty workshop, until someone needed a desk to work from home.
"One of the lads in the office was looking for a desk so we just put it up on our site and it all just spiralled from there really," says Keelan. "We became a furniture business."
As people were adjusting to working from home the Flying Elephant desks became very popular as they could be erected in a minute and taken down in the same time, an ideal desk for those with limited space at home.
"We started off with a desktop and we developed other add-ons and accessories like chairs, basically anything that was required for an office. Anywhere we saw a bit of a gap we just kept on inventing products for it," he explains.
"We just did it to see if we could see if we could keep a bit busy and amused really and it took off further than we ever thought it would, so we were very lucky," says Keelan.
The initial lockdown experience for the team was less bread baking and Netflix bingeing. It was four months of hard graft and overnight shifts to meet customer demand.
"We purchased another couple of machines to make ourselves more efficient," says Keelan.
We need your consent to load this Instagram contentWe use Instagram to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences
The whole business moved online, skills which the team had to teach themselves in order to reach their customers. They very much 'kept to themselves' during the lockdown and did not get outside funding for their digital transformation. Keelan says their relationship with Vodafone for their connectivity was invaluable to their success story.
"We had to move to an online shop and deal with customer service which was different for us as we were business to business before and didn’t deal directly with the public," he explains. "It was a bit of a learning curve and I think we got pretty good at it overall."
"Our whole business has moved online so having that speedy and reliable internet has kind of been a saving grace for us," he adds.
Since expanding into office furniture, Flying Elephant have further developed their product range to storage racks, kid’s toys, outdoor furniture and storage units. The latest product launched is a compact picnic table which holds a bottle of wine and two glasses -- a summer must-have with all the outdoor socialising.
We need your consent to load this Instagram contentWe use Instagram to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences.
"We have a great designer and another guys who is very creative," says Keelan, "and the two of them come up with a lot of the ideas for new products. We also listen to feedback and customer needs."
The demand for the business' original offering has slowly returned and that will grow as the events industry begins to reopen later in the year. Flying Elephant will be keeping the furniture arm of the business as long as there is demand for it.
"We’ll go back to what we always did, we are fairly busy with it at the moment just with different brands who are just doing things differently, "says Keelan. "We will keep the furniture going as long as there is a demand for it and we will keep innovating and developing products because we enjoy it."
"In the future we’ll see two sides of the business. Obviously, the event production side and I think the furniture will run in tandem with that. It’s the same machinery, same operations just slightly different offering," he adds.
Reliable connectivity is key for many small businesses navigating through the pandemic. As Ireland's best mobile network and largest fibre footprint provider, Vodafone is 100% committed to keeping your business connected with your customers in these challenging times.
For all business mobile or broadband support queries, visit Vodafone Business.