Glamping is one of the fastest evolving industries in the world and each year sites across the UK have to consider the upgrades that will help them remain competitive. Not only in terms of customer service but uniqueness and comfort as well. This has made glamping site owners some of the shrewdest business people in hospitality. With their eyes on the suppliers with the best deals and manufacturers keen to produce the latest and most exciting products, there is a tangible excitement in glamping for original ideas.
ANTHROPODS. AN ORIGINAL IDEA.
Anthropods are the brainchild of Rik Currie and are stylish, reliable and safe. These are, of course, important aspects in today’s safety-obsessed culture. Glamping as a whole has had to come to terms with this and the fact that as creative as you want to get with your accommodation, it has to be safe. And you cannot get a higher level of safety and reliability than from a man who designed trains for Nederelandse Spoorwegen.
Rik is a Chartered Industrial Engineer and studied at Coventry University before moving to Holland. A consummate polymath, prior to founding Anthropods he co-founded a successful digital token-less authentication company known as Swivel Secure Ltd, of which he is the CEO. As if having a high level of business acumen is not enough, he also speaks Dutch, plays the mandolin and when he was younger had aspirations of becoming an RAF pilot. Clearly a man able to deal with high ideas.
“While I founded the business, I was later joined by Douglas Adamson who took the role as Anthropods Executive Chairman,” Rik tells us, “Douglas’ roots are in communications and he runs a number of successful marketing and advertising companies.”
Douglas also brought a wealth of experience of the glamping sector as he has been actively involved in it through his Chairmanship of a conservation charity in the Yorkshire Dales. He is also Chairman of Settle Stories which is an arts-based charity in Settle.
“Like all good ideas, Anthropods germinated for a number of years and was in development since December 2017,” Rik says, “However it officially launched the following year in September 2018 at The Glamping Show. This was a perfect platform for the launch and resulted in tremendous results and immediate interest.”
WHAT MAKES ANTHROPODS DIFFERENT?
It is well-established that glamping relies on unique locations that can combine rustic areas and unique scenery with comfort, luxury and privacy. By making flexible use of space and with each pod including a range of quality fit-out options that suit a range of markets, Anthropods meets these criteria and has the potential to go beyond glamorous camping.
Rik explains that by combining a creative flair with sound design principles, Anthropods addresses the needs of luxury glamping, camping and additional hotel space.
“The key is the adaptability of Anthropods,” he says, explaining further that the Anthropods are easily customizable and can provide multiple levels of accommodation. For example, it can be used as a work-friendly home office or even a utilitarian base in disaster relief environments or military theatres of operations.
“The Pod’s flexibility goes even further as the unique leg configurations, which are a registered design, makes Anthropods stable on uneven ground, raked hillsides and up to five metres in the air,” Rik says, “Ground work is kept to minimum and the pods are easily re-locatable on site. Which cuts down the wear and tear of the location. They are also suited for hot and cold environments, ticking an important box for sites wishing to open 12 months of a year.”
All businesses evolve with the shifting trends and tastes of clients but Anthropods’ evolution over the last year has been unique and representative of two things. Firstly, the pace at which the glamping market is ready to develop given the opportunity, and secondly the readiness of the business to provide said opportunities.
“Clients want to impress their guests,” Rik says, “And we’ve been asked for all kinds of designs for both businesses and individuals. Including pods stacked on top of pods, pods linked with glass walkways and pods in some very unique locations and it’s been a challenge to see how we can make them work. The important thing, as a manufacturer is to turn the beautifully crazy ideas of our clients into functional reality.”
They have also been building up their network of suppliers, agents, contractors and relationships with the media too.
“It’s been a constant evolution,” he says, “And it is ongoing. To offer the best to our clients we have to work with the best businesses. We also have to constantly be expanding our horizons and pushing our own ambitions.”
They realized fairly early on that there’s a huge appetite for contemporary structures such as Anthropods, outside of the UK. Duly, they’ve cast their gaze a little wider than was originally intended in the early days. Rik is happy with these sorts of developments however as he knows the value of updating business plans and keeping ideas on the boil.
THE PEOPLE BEHIND THE PRODUCT
Rik and Douglas know the value of enthusiastic talent and from an engineering and construction perspective they work with a significant number of talented individuals and companies. Some of these include the likes of Lesko Modular Group Ltd, based in Peterborough, which supplements the output of Anthropods’ factory in North Yorkshire, Taplanes which supplies the wet rooms/bathrooms and Create CNC who undertake all of their profile cutting.
“However, from a more extrinsic point of view, it’s our intention to work closely and continue building relationships with content creators and media houses such as The Lost Executive, the wider media landscape and of course organizations at a grassroots level like the CLA.” Rik adds.
As with any start-up, it takes a village of people to get things off the ground. Rik reveals that through its early days to now, Anthropods has had support from both family and friends in the form of moral encouragement and day-to-day operations. Rik’s Dad, who is now in his 80s, was an engineer himself and has been instrumental in helping to stress test ideas and thinking up ways in which to make the Anthropods work. Furthermore, their graphic design, web design and communications teams are built of people that they’ve either worked with in the past, or family connections.
“A few of our Angel investors are entrepreneurial friends who have bought shares in the business,” Rik reveals, “They’ve heard us talking about Anthropods and wanted to support the venture. Ultimately, we want to work with people who are as invested in this business as we are and committed to making it a long-term success.”
THE PEOPLE VALUE
Relationships have proven to be paramount for growing Anthropods. Rik explains that word of mouth and recommendations are the foundation of any SME and that it’s so important to be aware of the impact a great relationship can have.
“Having the right relationship with the right person can literally change the trajectory of a business overnight,” he says.
He also reveals that there is a really interesting community of people and like-minded businesses out there who are willing to help start-ups hit those all-important initial targets.
“For example, Taplanes went the extra mile to get our integrated wet room unit that included a toilet, basin and shower, ready for the Glamping Show,” Rik says, “And our manufacturing partners Lesko Leisure and Camping shared space with us at the influential Holiday Park and Resort Innovation Show at the NEC. This helped us be financially savvy during what could have been an expensive weekend.”
Rik is no stranger to the demands of a competitive market and as a team they all make a concerted effort to spend time engaging with peers and authorities in the market via Instagram and other social platforms.
“Social media is the best way to see at a glance what’s going on in the world and to take the temperature in terms of what our audience is responding to,” he says in recommendation.
“We also read a number of blogs, magazines and sites such as The Logbook as well as follow glamping and modular building publications and design innovation media. We of course monitor competitive activity, particularly from abroad.”
LISTENING TO CLIENTS
Following consumer feedback there have been 80 minor modifications and improvements introduced to the pods and they are already designing Anthropods that can be more easily transported into export markets via containers. Additionally, they are looking at different market sectors like hotel accommodation space and education and corporate hospitality. Rik explains there are also a few big markets that are ripe to be tapped into within the hire sector for festivals and sporting events.
“We are being constantly asked for linked-pods and we have designed one in which 12 pods are strung together on a raised platform with common gangways to each pod.”
Rik’s background as an engineer heavily influenced his vision for Anthropods. He saw a gap in the market for a micro-dwelling and an opportunity to create a flexible living space which was sustainable. The Pod is made (where possible) using sustainable materials. This includes such things as Western Red Cedar wood for their exteriors which require no maintenance and is naturally insect repellent, recycled polypropylene is used for the bathroom units and recycled plastic bottles make a highly efficient insulation material.
So far, the best received Anthropod was the aptly titled Daddy Long Legs which stands at five metres and offers a very boutique accommodation that inspires as well as impresses.
While more of these sorts of products are going to be designed over 2019, a primary focus is on marketing and distribution strength.
“We are setting up a series of agencies and distribution deals in Europe, Indonesia and other overseas markets,” Rik reveals, “Concurrently we are streamlining our manufacturing capabilities to ensure that our efficiency continues to improve ahead of our growth.”
Anthropods & Co Ltd
Floor 3, Regal Chambers,
22A Oxford Street,
TELEPHONE NUMBER: 07860 420 763 or 07779 038 889
PRICE: From £40,000 for a single 5.3 metre pod