Desk Space provides start-ups with an environment that values creative problem solving, open communication channels and a flat hierarchy. So it’s no wonder there’s been an influx of business leaders finding it so valuable, especially when surrounded by a network they have come to know after years of working in the space. During the COVID-19 pandemic, 80% of the companies in Desk Space were urged to move any non-essential  work to home offices. But not the team at E-XD. Sitting down with co-founders Nick Hudson and Nick Benson of the product studio, they explain what their journey has been like as part of the Desk Space community, discuss their new business partnership with start-up Rescue Brand, and the lessons they’ve learnt about remaining flexible.

Nick and Nick met at Desk Space, with Benson running a product consulting firm called Dream and Hudson joining the Australian team at Yieldify, a team serving e-commerce companies with website personalisation and email remarketing. ExD came about when Benson recognised a market for facilitating brand launches in the beauty and products sector and grabbed Hudson who was looking for a new opportunity to showcase his ecommerce expertise. They formed ExD and started winning business from week one. That was two and a half years ago, and in that time ExD has evolved and the premise has changed. ‘ExD is a cloud manufacturing platform. We are building a network and infrastructure that allows us to create all different types of products. Whenever we added a particular supplier the whole network benefited’, says Benson. 

This new approach to managing supply chains goes against the traditional model that has proven limited and inflexible, usually due to single manufacturers operating at each step in the materials flow. ‘Manufacturing is difficult. It takes a long time to set up supply chains – people don’t want to build in redundancies – they just find a factory that creates a component and that’s it- but if they fall over because of economic or geo-political factors, climate related factors, or even a simple uptick in demand means that the supplier is no longer viable, and that compromises the whole chain. It’s a new concept to turn towards technology for this type of system.’

New troubles with supply chains have been most recently caused by the US-China Trade War and the economies most present challenger, COVID-19. The recent pandemic has affected ExD’s business in a range of interesting ways, but production is still operating soundly due to their unique position and manufacturing network. ‘We cater to alot of service brands that can’t perform their service due to social distancing measures, but it’s been product sales where they are generating their income. Our clients are adding products to their lines, so for us everything has been moving forward. Although some clients have pulled back we have seen behavior that’s more about product repurposing to fit the current climate.’, says Hudson. The team has enjoyed the spaciousness of an emptier than usual office over the past month at Desk Space. They brought in a close friend, Brendan Sheldon, who had been recently stood down from his position working at Qantas, to set up a new company – Rescue Brand. 

It’s an emergency product company for medical supplies, and seeing the ramp up in demand it took the team just over 24 hours to stand up hygiene products and personal protective equipment (PPE) like gloves, masks, gowns, hand sanitiser and other hygiene products. The way the world manages health and hygiene will change forever, so by reacting to this new demand, and reflecting on the way governments and corporations have managed crises in the past, Rescue was able to create a business in a risk mitigated way in order to lean into the current situation and employ out of work Australians – the team has now grown to ten. ‘We believe this will only get worse over the next 6 months, so we are planning long term off the back of these increases in purchasing of these products, to stand up a product with sound business principles; charging pre-crisis prices, guaranteeing supply and availability, with our goal being to build a business that will operate ongoing. It’s about doing good in the community when reacting to an emergency – I’d like to think we are part of the new norm for behaviour for the world moving forward. By utilising the foundational work that already exists with E-XD, new products can easily be switched on due to this new found collaboration in the space. Both the teams are working together so that responses to disaster, like the bushfires and COVID-19, are more adequate; governments, companies and people will be more prepared.

EX-D and the Rescue Brand team are now working closely with the national medical stockpile director and manufacturers in China to not only provide products, but to better communicate about the ever changing landscapes that are changing daily. Rescue Brand caters for Australia Post, Woolworths, Vodafone, Northern Beaches Council and Adore Beauty. Desk Space has facilitated the growth of this operation by providing a conveniently located fifteen person office on Level 1 at 85 William St. ‘The flexibility to grow within the space without having to think about where we are going to work next week has been invaluable’ Hudson says. ‘We are lucky to be part of an ecosystem of intelligent people who we can bounce ideas off of. The community at Desk Space has led to some really supportive and valuable relationships that continue to perpetuate growth for the entire office.’ The global response to COVID-19 has proven volatile, so gaining sound advice is key to helping communities, and what better community to be in than the crowd at Desk Space.