FF Rising Stars: Nick Benson, Atelier

By Marco De Novellis // 27 September 2023

Nick Benson, Founder of Atelier, pitching as one of our Rising Stars at Founders Forum 2023.
Nick Benson, Founder of Atelier, pitching as one of our Rising Stars at Founders Forum 2023.

Nick Benson’s Atelier helps beauty and wellness brands create any product at-scale, on demand. See our FF Rising Stars for 2023!

You can start a new digital business with the click of a button. Launching and scaling a physical product is not so straightforward.

Sydney-based serial entrepreneur, Nick Benson, started Atelier to provide an all-in-one product development and manufacturing platform for beauty, health, and wellness brands.

Atelier connects brands with a network of global manufacturers and gives them full creative control, detailed oversight over their supply chain, and speed to market, helping brands scale from 1,000 to over 1 million units fast.

Nick previously ran his own venture design consulting firm and experienced the challenges of scaling first-hand while developing his own men’s skincare brand.

Founded: 2018
Country: Australia
No. of employees: 36
Stage: Seed
Total funding raised: $5m
Investors: OIF VC, ArchAngel, Point King Capital, Ordinary Equity, Dawn Dobras

Why did you decide to start Atelier?

I launched Atelier to solve the impossible problem of manufacturing consumer-packaged goods. My ‘aha’ moment came from talking to brand founders, supply chain managers, procurement executives, and product developers and finding out that no one thought they did it well despite spending millions of dollars a year on salaries, sampling, freight, design, and engineering. 

The lightbulb moment was realising that here’s a large problem that every brand in the world spends 50% of their budget solving yet no one believes they solve it well: 

A problem where customers already have an established purchasing habit – tick. 

A problem that is fragmented and offline – tick. 

A problem with a massive market and no dominant monopoly/oligopoly dynamics – tick. 

Big A-ha!

What do you want to achieve?

Atelier will become the everything manufacturer. 

In the not-too-distant future, most consumer goods will be made in ‘manufacturing farms’ where demand is sourced and aggregated by digital platforms and allocated out to specific automated manufacturing resources that will produce componentry, products, and chemicals. On-demand, fully-optimised global manufacturing, category-by-category.

The big outcome of organising the manufacturing industry in this way is the comprehensive material sustainability, carbon impact, and human rights impact data that can be collected and ‘attached’ to specific goods (not to mention the significantly lower costs involved). Manufacturing is a significant driver of a number of the world’s existential challenges and Atelier is in a prime position to build a massive business with deep moats that has a positive impact on the world and its people. Of course, we are already capturing the demand quickly, and that is helping us become the forming pressure on this future already. 

What’s your biggest challenge right now?

The organisation of the offline world is hard. This is why technology today has organised information and payments so effectively, but not much else. The moment atoms become involved the ability to throw engineering resources to solve a problem isn’t a catch all. The world of atoms is energy-intensive, obeys the laws of physics, and is inherently more complex and challenging – a pretty deep moat for anyone who can solve it. 

We are constantly inventing new ways to organise the offline world of manufacturing from our ops-OS to the data models that we use throughout our manufacturing network. They are all fun challenges!

Who has helped you most in your journey so far? 

Rayn Ong (Archangel Ventures), a true believer from the start. We wouldn’t be here without his perseverance, conviction, and support. Anyone would be lucky to have him on their cap table. 

What’s the best and worst advice you’ve ever received?

Best advice: 

Action leads to emergent possibilities.  

Worst advice:

I had one investor in our pre-Seed suggest that we move to charging a SaaS fee as our only source of revenue. On the surface this was a reasonable suggestion, only it came with the caveat; ‘I know you’ll make less money’. Uh, yeah, that’s right. 

Discover more of our Rising Stars for 2023!