There’s something reassuring about a fire, but fireplaces aren’t always practical – we don’t all have a cabin in the woods! A company has just launched a toy that reproduces the sound of crackling flames, but is so beautiful that it appeals to many urbanites of all ages.
Ora was born from a father’s desire to meet the need for comfort of his children who were moving into a new home. To reassure the little ones, Mathieu Cloutier designed a wooden stove which offers the image of the flames and the sound of the crackling.
The toy was a hit not only with the children, but also with friends who visited the house and asked for one.
Mathieu Cloutier is an entrepreneur – he was behind the M ta region application, which became Milo, and he was just looking for a new project. He felt there might be a business opportunity there. It took a few months to develop Ora, with a conceptualization phase, then validation, particularly in CPEs.
The first fireplaces were sold in the spring of 2023, but production actually began the following fall, just in time for the holidays.
The company wanted to build its stock before opening orders.
Fortunately, because the response has been excellent: in 2023, around 1000 Ora households will have found their way to homes here and elsewhere, because demand from abroad is starting to be more and more sustained, says the founder of Ora.
These are small wooden fireplaces, entirely made in Saint-Ambroise-de-Kildare, in Lanaudière. The current production capacity is 50 homes per day, indicates Mathieu Cloutier.
The housing produces light, but does not emit heat. There are three sizes, and they are offered in a few colors. The fireplace, to be assembled, comes with the crackling, but there is also the Ora application, which is at the heart of the company’s business model.
With a subscription of $4.99 per month (current price), fireplace owners will be entitled to music to accompany their fire, stories and so on.
“The application gives all the meaning to the product,” says the designer.
For parents who want to spend quality time with their children, but who perhaps want to take a reading break, this is an interesting option.
The product was designed for children, really with a desire for comfort, and that is how it is presented. Moreover, several homes are installed in CPEs and even at Sainte-Justine hospital.
The entrepreneur presents his home as a toy and has built his communication plan with this vision. “But, roughly speaking, 30% of our sales are people who have apartments in Montreal,” nevertheless confides Mathieu Cloutier.
Ora will estimate its annual production in the coming weeks, but the entrepreneur is thinking big: we are talking about a few tens of thousands of stoves annually. If this turns out to be true, it will be necessary to change factories or form partnerships, which may be possible at this time when the furniture industry is slowing down.
For the moment, 80% of sales are made in Quebec, but development involves foreign markets. The demand is already there in Europe, particularly from the French market. “The vision is to go as quickly as possible, to as many countries as possible. We are not looking to go deep into the markets, we are looking to expand,” confides Mathieu Cloutier.
The first round of financing concluded in December: it will be used to develop Ora’s growth plan. The real capital fundraising will follow this year.