Inspired by “big, ethical business opportunities,” Tim Dobson ’06 is leaving his mark on the growing market of sit-stand desks.
By Kyle Lubinsky ’17
For many entering the business world, starting a company is a pipe dream. While being your own boss is appealing, the real-world challenges are quite difficult. For Tim Dobson ’06, though, the dream became a reality in January of 2015, when he founded KOR, a standing desk company.
“I’m inspired by big, ethical business opportunities,” the economics graduate says. “I’ve always been an entrepreneurial thinker with the propensity to spot gaps in markets.”
With his eye on new opportunities, Dobson recognized the growing market for sit-stand desks—those adjustable desks that allow a person to work while standing or sitting in an effort to boost health and fitness. He teamed up with businessman Cory Lovett, whom he had worked with on other projects, and the two decided to jump into the standing desk market. “After seeing other products, I knew I could build better options,” he says. “It was a trend too big for me to ignore.”
The result was KOR, which focuses on high-quality, American-made desks. Started in Scottsdale, Ariz., the company uses sustainable materials to build its desks—the wood is sourced from American forests. Aside from being environmentally conscious, Dobson and Lovett are always adding new components to their desks to stay ahead of the competition. Standard features include memory position controls and KOR Chase, a wire concealment system.
While the company has been a success, it expects to sell 3,000 to 5,000 desks this year, Dobson is the first to admit that starting a new company is difficult. In KOR’s case, much of the struggle revolved around securing funding and the costs associated with starting the business. “Ideas are easy, it’s the execution that matters,” he says. “Executing a plan, pushing through the obstacles to bring a great idea to market with a viable business model, is the challenge.”
Dobson says Elon provided him with the skills he needed to be a successful business owner. As a student, he was part of the economics club, and also studied abroad in Italy. “That’s the thing about Elon, it’s a small school that has a massive, far-reaching impact with a powerful alumni network,” he says. For him, the relationships built through Elon have also led to the development of KOR. Case in point: he connected with Garrett McKnight ’94 in Phoenix, who introduced him to a multitude of business professionals, something that helped him widen his reach.
“The true value of my Elon experience is immeasurable,” Dobson says. “My Elon education in economics impacts every decision that I make. Its greatest gift to me has been the relationships that I developed through my connection with the school.”
For more information on Dobson’s business, visit kordesk.com.