Elephbo gets acquired

Founded in 2016, Huxley Design AG built a track record by transforming cement bags into high-end products under the brand Elephbo. Over the years, the company has sold over 100,000 units and recycled over 191'120 cement bags. Surs GmbH has now acquired all assets of Elephbo, including the majority of the team, which will continue growing the brand.

Nicolas Huxley (right) established Elephbo to create an ecological impact in Cambodia by recycling masses of cement bags that had been poorly disposed around on building sites, garbage dumps or on meadows and roads. The cement bags became an ideal raw material for the Elephbo brand due to their stable plastic fabric. The Zurich-based startup, Huxley Design AG, has recycled 191'123 cement bags today and sold more than 100’000 high-end consumer products, including backpacks, bags, sneakers and a wide range of accessories. 

In addition to helping solve the environmental problem, Elephbo aimed to enhance the welfare of Cambodians by educating its workers, providing social benefits and paying fair wages. “We were also able to help set up a production facility in Cambodia, which now offers more than 500 people secure and well-paid jobs”, said Nicolas. 

Despite having a rollercoaster journey, the startup has achieved several milestones, including setting up activities in Switzerland, Bosnia and Cambodia, securing capital and becoming a profitable company in 2021. The startup also grew the team to 13 people: five in Switzerland and eight in Cambodia. “After a very difficult 2020, I was proud to keep the team together and come back strong in 2021, mainly due to a clearer focus on our product portfolio and sales strategy. 2021 was our first profitable year since our seed funding round in 2018, primarily because we said no to many opportunities.” 

Surs GmbH has taken over the impact startup and acquired all assets owned by Huxley Design AG. Surs has been building e-commerce brands since 2017 and has a close strategic alliance with Digt AG, which has built closed e-commerce platforms for various large communities. Surs’s experience and setup allow Elephbo to leverage many synergies, outsource back office work, and focus on its core business, creating impactful products.

Following the acquisition, the production and sales will remain the same, as well as all projects in Cambodia. Additionally, most team members of the Elephbo team will stay with the company and activities in Cambodia will remain unchanged. 

Reflecting on his startup journey, Nicolas said to Startupticker that he benefited from offers provided by support organisations like the Entrepreneur Organisation (EO) and the Swiss Startup Association. Moreover, social media platforms like LinkedIn and meeting and sharing ideas and experiences with founders in similar fields enabled him to learn and grow his brand. One of his major learnings has been learning to say no. “Only focus on what brings you closer to your vision. Knowing that good things take time, keep your mind open, but don't let everything that's happening around you distract you”, he advises.

(RAN)Photo: Jens Bergermann (Founder and CEO of Surs) & Nicolas Huxley (Founder &CEO of Elephbo)