Ed Padmore is one of the co-founders of Harth, a platform allowing members to rent furniture, interior design and art – direct from the world’s best brands, manufacturers, designers, artists, dealers and collectors; as well as from each other. He told GangHut a bit more about where the idea came from – and his love of simplicity.
“On Harth, you can rent items for as little or as long as you want, for almost any purpose and reason, and then give them back when you’re done. The idea came about after moving home several times, closing and opening new offices and having all this ‘stuff’ following us around and frequently in and out of storage, with quite a hefty fee.
I worked in corporate IT for many years, mostly as a ‘jack of all trades’. I was basically the person in IT who was always chosen to communicate what the IT organisation was trying to do. And why it was going to cost so much… and probably run so late! I think this job used to confuse my family: they get what I’m up to now, at last. I also run a photo scanning company and am co-founder of a creative agency, and luckily they’re both quite self-explanatory.
I don’t really have a typical day. Sometimes it feels like freedom – working on everything we do – but a lot of the time I suspect it just slows me down and makes me inefficient. One minute I can be fundraising, the next helping out with the social media strategy, the next planning logistics and packaging. But I think a decent co-founder needs to know what’s going on in every part of the business and be there to support the team – in practical terms as well as by being a sounding board and displaying leadership.
I’m inspired by solving problems. The problem I initially had was that I was paying storage fees for something that I know somebody else could really have done with themselves at that time. We’ve created an incredibly complicated business and it’s like a minefield of problems, which sounds and is quite scary. But how we deal with those, how we solve those, and by packaging them up and making them disappear for our customers, that’s where we can build value and make a difference with a service that really stands out and delivers something new and special.
My dad is retired now but built a successful engineering business and had a factory in Birmingham. I wouldn’t have realised at the time but it took a huge amount of energy, dedication and will power to do what he did and he employed a lot of people who all relied on him to keep it all going, and to get through the tough times, month after month. That really inspires me.
The most exciting thing about marketplaces is the additional reach that comes from opening up the market. Currently you can rent items – via Harth – from manufacturers, designers or galleries, but building a marketplace you will also be able to (and already can) access things that otherwise would have been impossible. Either impossible to find, or impossible because they are rare or unusual, or impossible because you wouldn’t even know they exist.
I’m really proud of bringing together some amazing people who all believe in the vision and are passionate and fighting the Harth corner, just as hard as I am. We made a “Harth Army” video short when we kitted out a Mayfair pop-up. Our two-year-old daughter stole the show…
I want to keep pursuing the beauty of simplicity. When things don’t work or are so illogical you cannot imagine how they ever ended up being like that, that’s what I’m drawn to rally against. The “That’s just how we’ve always done it” mentality drives me insane, and I want to run the other way in every aspect of that notion. Make things simple. Make them logical. Make them beautiful and delightful to use. Leave the rest behind…”