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DIY Hairpin Legs

Fueling growth with automation

There’s nothing mysterious about DIY Hairpin Legs: they provide exactly what their company name says. Actually, they sell custom shelf brackets too, but hairpin legs were the initial inspiration for the business.

What, you may be wondering, is a hairpin leg? It’s the spare and elegant u-shaped table leg that props up countless pieces of mid-century modern furniture and is currently experiencing a renaissance among creators who are building their own alternatives to the mass-produced tables, stools, and desks available at big-box stores. DIY Hairpin Legs is the joint venture of entrepreneurs Elton Rivas and Matt Jensen. As a side project, Matt was creating his own custom furniture pieces when his hairpin leg supplier decided to shut down his business, and so Matt had to figure out an alternative. The appetite for hairpin legs among makers of all sorts was, and continues to be, strong. Matt reached out to his friend Elton, who knew nothing about hairpin legs but did know a great deal about start-ups and running a business. The co-founders were the perfect pair to bring DIY Hairpin Legs to market.

Getting out from under data entry

Like so many entrepreneurs who launch a new business, Matt and Elton found themselves drowning in the minutiae of administration. They knew they needed to be focusing their energy on getting the word out, sourcing suppliers, and delighting their customers. Finding ways to automate tasks like data entry and bookkeeping became essential to growth. The variety of tools, manual processes, and contracted support they were using was becoming a major drain on the company’s resources.

Elton committed to reevaluating the company’s entire tech stack. They switched their bookkeeping over to Xero’s cloud-based platform, which opened up a whole new world of compatible apps for almost every back-office process imaginable. A2X quickly surfaced as an essential tool to pull in the company’s ecommerce transactions, from sites like Amazon and Shopify, into Xero.

Another need: automate all the manual data entry to save time and eliminate mistakes. Elton had come across Hubdoc in the past, and now he could see its true power. Hubdoc consolidates all of your financial paperwork—invoices, receipts, emails, orders, etc.—and converts it into usable data. It can automatically fetch bills and sync information into Xero. Hubdoc gave DIY the big push it needed to stop spending its resources on data entry and instead invest in growth efforts and new product development.

The end result: the company can provide the makers of the world with the hairpin legs and shelf brackets they need to keep producing beautiful and creative work.

Advice to entrepreneurs

First and foremost, build an advisory team. DIY Hairpin Legs is Elton’s eighth venture, and he’s learned that he needs to ask for help in areas where he isn’t the expert. Although it can feel awkward to reach out for assistance, Elton says he’s seen the greatest possible return on his time investments from surrounding himself with talented advisors who are experienced, networked, and willing to offer difficult feedback.

He also cites a seamless tech stack as an absolutely essential component to scaling a business. “We needed to worry about growth, not administration,” Elton said. As they validated the business concept, it quickly became clear that they needed to focus all of their efforts into scaling. Swapping out about 90% of the tech stack may have been a painful process at the time, but Elton and Matt have reaped the rewards as they’ve been able to stay focused on growth. Elton says, “It’s easy to try to be scrappy early on, but sometimes scrappy comes back and bites you.”