Entrepreneur Interview: Rob Bridgman

May 24, 2022

As part of our Entrepreneur Series, this month we had the pleasure of getting to know Rob Bridgman, Founder & CEO of Snug, a company revolutionising the way of buying furniture by delivering sofa’s in a box in days, instead of weeks. We chat to Rob about how Snug came about, how it is evolving, as well as his hopes for the future of the business. Rob also gives us a glimpse of what it’s like to run a business and his top tips for entrepreneurs.


  1. What’s your background prior to setting up Snug?

From an early age I wanted to be an inventor and believed that being an entrepreneur is as close as you can get. At the age of 21 I started working for my father who, after qualifying as an accountant, had set up his furniture business, Bridgman, much like my grandfather who owned furniture factories since the 1940’s.

After having studied psychology at university, I embraced my role in marketing and e-commerce and through trial and error, helped transform Bridgman from a manufacturer and wholesaler, to a direct-to-consumer business, growing revenue from £2m to £7m per year and opening offices in the Middle East.


  1. Where did your inspiration come from to create Snug?

When I joined Bridgman in 2010 my first project was to set up an ecommerce site, migrating from asp.net to Magento. Selling direct to consumers online was a relatively new concept at the time, as the misconception in the industry was people wouldn’t be willing to spend £1,000+ without first seeing the product.

8 years later, after a particularly frustrating experience of buying a sofa for my flat, I realised that I could use my professional experience to solve a personal problem. After waiting 9 weeks for the sofas to arrive, when they eventually did, they didn’t fit through the front door. To make matters worse, the company didn’t accept returns, so I was thousands of pounds out of pocket still without anywhere to sit. Combining my knowledge of the industry with the D2C business model, we launched Snug in 2019.


  1. What has been the hardest barrier to overcome whilst setting up the company?

Getting manufacturers on board with our ‘no tools’ and ‘speedy delivery’ requirements. Over the space of a year, Snug was turned down by 12 manufacturers before one accepted our initial order. We sold 1 sofa in month one and 10 in our first quarter but stayed resolute to the lean ‘start small, scale fast’ mantra.

One of the biggest technical challenges was to reverse engineer a three-seater sofa so that it not only looks good but is comfortable and durable. It caused some serious headaches. In principle the design and ergonomics were relatively straightforward but the engineering to put it together without tools was very challenging (it took nearly 9 months).

For me, this period was also challenging as I essentially had two jobs. I was working at Bridgman as a marketing director and on the side I was trying to get Snug off the ground. We were designing the product, creating a company, and the new ‘sofa in a box’ category, all at the same time.


  1. What is unique about your business in the market?

We’ve disrupted the furniture industry by innovating in 3 areas simultaneously; Product, Brand and Customer Experience.

51% of Londoners have issues with fitting furniture into their property, and 22 million pieces of furniture end up in landfill each year. Our patented Modular assembly system overcomes both of these challenges, and we created a new category around the solution. We also deliver in days, not months, which is key for modern day consumers – we can see that this speed doubles our conversions.

Our Brand stands out from the competition. We’ve developed a Challenger brand which has disrupted the status quo, with a cheeky and irreverent personality. This has resulted in us growing a community of over 250k people on social platforms with an engagement rate of 5.5% which is more than double the industry average.

We’ve also pioneered in social commerce, which we define as blurring the lines between community, content and commerce. Through live streaming events we’ve collaborated with celebrities like Kathryn Ryan to virtually fill Wembley Arena and sell hundreds of sofas with relatively little spend.


  1. Where do you see the business going in the future?

We’re constantly looking to innovate and challenge the status quo. Our ambition is to be a global consumer brand, and to create new furniture categories for the Digital Age.


  1. What was your reason for setting up the business and what is your end goal?

I spotted an opportunity in the market to solve a problem and to create a brand and community around it. The goal is to scale as quickly as possible to extend our market lead, and to create new markets in the UK and overseas. Snug’s business model and unique positioning has global application, and with the right investment could become one of the next unicorns.


  1. What 2 personality traits do you think makes a good business leader?

Whilst there are many different traits needed to be a good business leader, the two that stand out for me are integrity and the ability to adapt.


  1. What time does your alarm go off and what is your morning routine?

Whilst I am more of an evening person, my alarm usually goes off around 5.30am, I’ve recently started running again so I try to get out at least a few times a week. On the mornings where I head straight into the office, I grab a coffee enroute and catch up on any urgent emails, read the latest articles in The Economist or listen to a podcast on Shopify. My current favourite being Secret Leaders. Arriving at the office around 7.30am, I’ll spend the first half hour of the day getting up to speed with my EA, ready to start the day with either a catch up with the senior management team or deep diving into the latest customer insights which underpin our strategy.


  1. What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs starting up their own business?

There are so many opportunities out there, but you should always ask yourself these 2 questions:

  1. Is this better than what is already out there?
  2. How will we reach our target audience?

If you can answer these 2 questions, the key is to test and learn so you can continuously improve and outpace your competition.


Rapid Fire:

  1. Your favourite snug sofa? The Cloud Sundae in a 100% recycled fabric which will be launching next month
  2. A cuisine you could eat for a month straight? Italian
  3. What’s at the top of your bucket list? A trip to Patagonia
  4. Any hidden talents? I can tear a Yellow Pages in half
  5. Morning or evening person? Evening – this is when I do all my creative thinking
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