During the third Impact Incubator Final Pitch Event, run by Impact HUB Bratislava, the award in the Social Business category went to a young creative company called Pure Junk.
Pure Junk combines hand-made approach, custom design and eco-friendly way in the production of furniture made of wooden waste. One of their socially beneficial goals is to increase the share of recycled waste in Slovakia. We sat down with Maja Demjanovičová, the co-founder of Pure Junk, and found out more.
Welcome Majka. Where do the origins of Pure Junk lie?
Everything has started during the Startup Weekend in Žilina in the fall of 2014. The Startup Weekend was pretty fresh start for us, since we released the website, all the communication channels on social media, and recorded a video. All of this just during one weekend. After the event, we thought the job is done. Wrong. Everything has just started. My phone kept ringing and after a while we got the first big order, from Metaxa.
Who did you start the evolution of Pure Junk with?
I persuaded my good friend from the university who I’d worked with on several projects. The rest was a mix of people who liked the concept. It is obvious that the staff has changed after the Startup Weekend.
We were in need of people who would take it seriously and invest their time and energy into it. Fortunately, we found them and now our team is formed by 4 full-time employees and 2 part-time employees. We also have a guy who’s helping us with product design, and we are expecting a new part time employee to help us with marketing.
Of course, I can’t forget my adopted grey-hound dog from Ireland,who is already considered to be a team member.
A lot of successful companies has started as “garage firms”. Would you consider Pure Junk as one of them?
Exactly! It may sounds as a cliché but that’s exactly how did we start. Luckily, we were able to use our friends‘ and families’ support during those first orders. They helped us to kick it off as well. We had no external investors, everything was paid with the money we’d earned on the previous orders.
Our budget was still in circulation, so when the job was done we went to buy a new equipment. Once, our grinding machine broke so I ran to Baumax to buy a new one. That one broke the day after. The beginning was tough, and we were forced to learn on the go but it was absolutely worth it.
Which product can we consider as a trademark of your company?
It is really hard to say what we can call our trademark. The main reason for that is that our products are customize and even though we regulate our product range, it is still quite wide and we can not specify it to a single product. To bring it little bit closer, all of our products are 100% handmade which means that the final selection is not just flat down pallet, it is a new material- with a new shape and a new function. This is what makes our products really unique and hard to fit into just one word.
You have started as a company, which was focused on palette furniture made out of wooden waste. Is this still actual?
Approximately after half a year, we gave up on idea of manufacturing just pallets. This was because pallets as furniture have been in the market for a while, and there would be no point to start something what has already been running, right? So we came up with the idea to demolished basic product (palette) to a reusable and completely new material with no borders and bigger space for our creativity.
Speaking about creativity I can maybe answer the previous question where as I mentioned it is really hard to describe our trademark. This is because of limitless possibilities we have with material made from pallets and so we are able to offer really unique products. As I said it is product making with no borders and this is why we can keep pace with competing businesses.
As a winner of the last Impact Incubator,what did this competition give to you?
It was great experience which pushed us to our limits and thanks to that we could make a lot of important and vital changes in our business. I would like to point mainly that we got objective view on our whole production at that time. Another big thing was that it helped us to divide our portfolio into two main sectors.
The first one focuses on customized products which are more expensive and the most profitable in our selection and the second one focuses mainly on gastronomy such as restaurants and cafes where we offer literally everything from wooden menus to chairs tables or decoration. I still can not believe how many changes we managed to undertake and improve. We brought fresh changes to our portfolios, website communication, new logo, and many other things. Shortly, for our business it was a priceless experience.
With a bit of exaggeration, do you consider Impact Incubator participation as one of the milestones in the history of Pure Junk?
Definitely. It came exactly at the time when we were overwhelmed with loads of orders, and we had no time for important things closely connected to our business. Anyway, Impact Hub came just in time. We were able to stop and take deep breath and step by step start focusing on the things recommended by tutors in Impact Hub. Now we have new people coming in so we can be even more effective.
I know that you have studied Faculty of Management Science and Informatics. Don’t you regret giving up on a career in this area in favor of Pure Junk?
Definitely, I don’t. I worked in online marketing and PR agencies for such a long time. I can say I really enjoyed it and the biggest issue was to say no to my dreamy PR agency. But I’m glad I did so. Also thanks to my previous experiences I was able to help build Pure Junk into what it is now.
You have invested a lot of time and energy in Pure Junk, but whats the most precious thing, Pure Junk gave to you?
Freedom, is probably the first word which comes to my mind. The atmosphere in the work is relaxed and friendly. Even when we have busy times we are not under pressure and stressed which is really good for overall team work. Another thing is marketing and advertising. It is my passion and I love it. Pure junk is my baby, now I am watching it grow and it is pleasure for me to stride with it and just have a good time.
If we take a look into the future, what’s next for Pure Junk? Can we expect the expansion?
That’s a good question. For now, we are focusing just at the Slovak market, but we are starting to have inquiries from Austria as well. In the future, we definitely want to expand, and we are looking at two different models. Either move the production to another country, recycle their wooden waste and spread an idea into the world or keep the manufacturing in Slovakia and export the products abroad.