Anton Assaad started out sourcing vintage furniture from Denmark with the help of a fax machine and a dial up modem.
Fast forward two decades, and the business he created, Great Dane, has been a driving force in the popularity of Scandinavian design in Australia.
Anton recently sat down with NAB’s Group Executive Business and Private Banking Andrew Irvine. This is the first interview in a series called ‘From the ground up’ where Andrew visits entrepreneurs around Australia to find out what makes them tick and celebrate the success of the people who make up the backbone of Australia’s economy.
Where it all started
Anton loved Danish design as a child and rediscovered it as an adult. At the time only a few small shops were selling Danish furniture in Australia, so Anton started making connections in Denmark and became a vintage furniture importer.
He then rented a leaky warehouse in Prahran, Melbourne where he restored the furniture.
“The first night I opened up 100 people showed up and I sold $30,000 [worth of furniture]. I thought, OK there’s something to this,” Anton said.
Speaking from his beautiful showroom in Melbourne, Anton said there were a few key changes that helped him to scale his business.
“It took me 5-10 years to realise that if I wanted to grow the business I couldn’t do everything,” he said.
Another step was to move from importing vintage furniture to selling new furniture and lighting.
Anton welled up when discussing how he’d maintained the distinctive culture of his business. “We haven’t deviated. It’s hard, but I think if you can do it, it’s something that can really make a business sing and I think we’re very lucky”.
The future’s great
Anton is continuing to grow Great Dane with backing from NAB. He’ll be opening a new showroom in Brisbane.
His parting advice for would be entrepreneurs is this:
“If you want to give it a go, give it a go… You’ve just got to keep trying.”
Feature image above: Great Dane founder Anton Assaad (right) talks to NAB’s Group Executive Business and Private Banking Andrew Irvine.