MI TCH SAYS
“DANY and I both grew up in Byron Bay. I’m a couple of years older and for a while I was his under-14s rugby coach. To pay my way through uni – I’ve got a Bachelor of Sustainability degree – I was selling products online and quickly realised what people did and didn’t want. After uni, I started an online furniture company.
When Dany moved to Sydney and I was in Perth, we’d talk daily about business possibilities. When we’d go surfifing, we’d sit in the dunes for hours, talking through ideas. We came up with [the concept for] Koala on a secluded beach south of Yamba.
We were thinking, ‘What animals need help? What’s Australian? What’s cute and cuddly?’ When Dany suggested koalas, we thought, ‘That sounds nice. Let’s do some research.’ Five minutes later, the phone rang: ‘Oh my God, they sleep for 18 hours a day!’
We went to the Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie and learnt about the troubles they have – chlamydia, habitat destruction – and decided that for every mattress sold, we’d adopt a koala. We moved to Sydney and, for the fifirst month or two, after spending 15 to 20 hours a day on our computers, we slept head-to-toe in the same bed. We had a lot of mattresses to sample! We now have 30 full-time employees. Dany’s role is marketing and mine is product. We are both directors and make every big decision together. Some people fifind the concept of co-directors troubling but it’s working like a dream for us. We have very difffferent ways of operating; I do more of the blue-sky thinking and Dany is more mathematical. We’re a data-driven company so if we disagree, the data makes the decision or we nut it out with some business advisers. I don’t think we’ve ever raised our voices at each other.
In terms of design and branding, Dany has an eye for things that nobody else can see. We’re both control freaks and perfectionists but it seems to work. The business challenge now is to move from being workers and founders to managers and business leaders – letting go of detail and relying more on others. It’s a very exciting time.”