While working in a busy open-plan office in London, Todor Madzharov and Thomas Anselmino, two former Job Today executives and current Meavo co-founders, were finding it difficult to focus amidst the constant phone calls and conversations. So they decided to come up with a solution. Fast-forward to two years later and the Meavo phone booths can now be found in offices all across Europe, including Google, H&M and Barclays. We speak with Todor Madzharov about the rapid growth of Meavo as well as the startup’s approach to sustainability.
What makes your phone booths different from what your competitors are offering?
Even though our prices are lower than any comparable booth on the market we are offering a wider range features: each of our booths is kitted out with an LED spotlight, an extremely silent ventilation fan, a socket, two different types of USB charge ports and a wireless charge pad.
Our booths are also eco-friendly (the interior panels are made up of recycled plastic water bottles) and our clients get to customise their booth by choosing from over 200 colours for the exterior finish.
Your booths are customisable and have more features than other booths on the market. How were you able to achieve this while also keeping the price down?
I think there two reasons for which we are able to offer our products at such a competitive price. The first one is that we’ve completely cut out the middle man. Historically the office furniture industry has been dominated by resellers and agencies who take a huge chunk out of the profit. We sell directly to the consumers.
The second reason is that we run our company in a very lean way. Most of our competitors have a more traditional set up and employ hundreds of people. Our team only includes a handful of full-time staff and we don’t have huge expensive show rooms. By keeping our overheads to a minimum we are able to sell at a much lower cost while still being profitable.
“We decided to use a material made of recycled plastic bottles for the acoustic panels.”
Could you tell us a bit more about the decision to make your booths customisable—did it lead to any challenges regarding manufacturing?
I would say that this is the biggest advantage we have over our competitors. Our clients get to select any exterior colour they like, at no extra charge, to make sure their booths fit seamlessly into their office environment. No one else in the market offers the same degree of customisation, as far as I’m aware.
Of course, the fact that each booth is unique makes the manufacturing process more complex and not many factories in Europe are prepared for this. But it’s a feature that we’re not willing to let go of so we’ve been working hard to find factories that can meet this specific requirement. We currently work with two factories in Bulgaria who are providing a very reliable and high-quality service at an affordable price.
What is your business model? Do your clients purchase or rent the booths?
Our fully equipped, bestselling model, the Soho, comes at a fixed price of 3,199 EUR. In the beginning, we were offering a rental option as well. But because our purchasing price is so affordable no one showed much interest in the rental service. Naturally, after a few months, we stopped offering this option.
“We want to focus on strengthening our presence in Europe—there are still plenty of busy office spaces to tackle here!”
You mentioned that your booths are made of recycled plastic bottles. Could you tell us a bit more about your environmental sustainability initiatives?
From the very beginning Thomas and I have been committed to doing as much as we can to minimise our company’s impact on the environment. That’s why we decided to use a material made of recycled plastic bottles for the acoustic panels. We also donate to carbon offset charities to offset all the carbon we produce during the manufacturing process and we donate 2 solar lamps to families in Zambia per booth sold, preventing the emission of 2 tons of CO2 while also improving the family’s overall health by not burning kerosene lamps indoors. We believe that these initiatives are making a real impact and the whole team is really proud of this.
Since launching Meavo in 2018 you have established a strong presence in the UK. Where next?
We’ve sold our booths in almost every country in Europe but at the moment the majority of our sales come from London and Germany. We’re now looking to expand our business into other European markets, especially France and Benelux. We’ve had inquiries from the US, Australia and India but for now we want to focus on strengthening our presence in Europe—there are still plenty of busy office spaces to tackle here!