Elephbo: flexibility and diversification to overcome the crisis


Since the outbreak of the corona crisis, many startups especially those selling physical goods, have been battling with the arising challenges—one of such companies is the fashion company Huxley Design AG, the producer of Elephbo products. We talked to Nicolas Huxley whose company has thrived, thanks to the growing online sales in the DACH region and market diversification.



Founded in 2016 by Nicolas Huxley, Elephbo has been developing and commercialising high-end consumer products including backpacks, handbags and sneakers by recycling cement bags in Cambodia. To this day, the startup has recycled over 90700 cement bags, which has contributed positively to the environment. Through this initiative, Huxley revealed that there is growing interest from individuals and schools to create awareness on reducing waste, which, according to him, is a great achievement.

While creating an ecological impact, Elephbo focuses on improving the social welfare of the Cambodians by educating its workers, providing social benefits and paying fair wages to enable them to fend for their families. “When people achieve a secure financial status, they start to show interest in environmental issues, especially, how to reduce plastic and waste,” says Huxley.

By the end of 2019, Elephbo saw a 20% sales growth and increasing demand. Its products were available in more than 60 stores and online with presence in Switzerland, Germany, Australia, the Netherlands and Japan. The company launched pilot projects in South Korea, where it plans to expand and grow the company. Elephbo also employees over 25 people across multiple countries.

Overcoming the COVID19 crisis
With the outbreak of the Coronavirus crisis, Elephbo, like several consumer goods businesses, faced some challenges. Due to the lockdowns and the inability of manufacturing employees to work at the premises, Elephbo found itself in a turbulent state. However, the surging demand for its products through online channels enabled the company to sustain revenues and stay afloat. For Huxley, it was this flexibility and opportunities of e-commerce that allowed the company to continue to grow despite the crisis.

Elephbo is a product of Huxley Design under which Huxley has founded new companies such as the Wickel-rucksack.ch offering backpacks for young parents. “We wanted to test new products to address other customer segments. Since the launch in autumn 2019, sales have grown significantly.” The startup donates a proportion of the sales from Wickel-rucksack.ch to support Rohingya children in Myanmar. Additional social projects are running under the parent company.

Tips for entrepreneurs seeking to diversify
For entrepreneurs wishing to run multiple enterprises, Huxley advises them to, first create a sturdy foundation through the first company then expand, prioritise and form synergies. “At this stage, you need to find partners what will provide you with the resources and infrastructure so that you can scale without a significant initial investment.”

Photo: Elephbo