how it all started
senz° was born out of pure frustration with traditional umbrellas. You're probably very familiar with all of the well known umbrella struggles yourself: Umbrellas go inside-out, break, poke you in the eye, limit your visibility, don't protect your back, etc. Today, some 3400 years after its invention in Egypt, the umbrella is basically regarded as a necessary evil that everybody all over the world dislikes.
The story of senz° goes back to the fall of 2004, when a young and naïve Industrial Design Engineering student, Gerwin Hoogendoorn, experienced one week in which three of his umbrellas broke down. Being sick and tired of the massive amount of crappy umbrellas, he decided to devote his graduation project to designing the ultimate umbrella: One design that resolves all of those nasty umbrella frustrations.
When Gerwin told two of his college friends about his plans, Gerard Kool and Philip Hess, their first reaction was to laugh at him. "C'mon man, it's your graduation project for crying out loud! You're crazy to spend a year of your life designing a boring product like an umbrella. Don't you have anything better to do???"
Gerard and Philip continued to make fun of Gerwin, but he wasn't bothered by them and remained committed to develop his ultimate umbrella. He contacted some of Europe's largest umbrella brands to do his graduation project for, but they all turned him down, as they didn't believe that the ever existing design of the umbrella could be improved. So Gerwin decided to pursue his quest on his own.
After inventing some clever solutions, Gerwin became increasingly enthusiastic about his umbrella project, and somehow he was able to convince Gerard and Philip to believe that 'this umbrella thing' could really become something special. Triggered by the challenge to change the streets all over the world, we started thinking how we could best bring Gerwin's umbrella concept to the market. Before we knew it, we had a finished business plan, and the first prototype of the umbrella, which Gerwin had made on his grandmother's sewing machine.
That was the moment that we decided to give it a shot. Green as grass and with absolutely no entrepreneurial experience, we rented a tiny little office space and started our company. We named it senz°, we wanted our new line of umbrellas to make sense, unlike all traditional umbrellas on the market.
About a year later, in November 2006, we had our market introduction. We obviously had no clue how many umbrellas to produce, so we figured that 10.000 units would be enough for a while... Upon our market introduction, the international media picked up our story in an incredible way! We were featured on TV, radio, magazines, newspapers and blogs all over the world. It was truly a surreal experience! And after nine days, our initial stock of 10.000 units sold out, mainly through a website that no one had ever heard of!
The first year after market introduction we were fortunate to win almost all major design awards in the world, such as the red dot design award, iF design award (Gold), IDEA award (Gold), Good Design Award, Observeur Design Award (Star), Dutch Design Award, etc. The sudden success was celebrated and many other wonderful things have happened to us since those early days. We've grown our business and we're now active throughout Western Europe, North America and Asia. We've also learned that we couldn't achieve our dreams on our own, so we hired the best possible people to form a true senz° family. With this great group of people, we are now working hard to grow senz° to a global brand. We'd like to take you with us on our journey, so make sure to follow us through our website, Facebook and Twitter, ´cause there's much more coming your way!