Founded in 2021, RISE is a local Toronto startup built on sustainability, innovation, and functionality, specializing in ergonomic home office furniture. What initially began as a fun side hustle for co-founders Michael and Mike, quickly grew to something much more. Since its launch, RISE has exploded into the marketspace, becoming Canada’s number one brand for standing desks. However, it wasn’t long ago that RISE was nothing but a fantasy existing in a distant dream. Tackling obstacle after obstacle, Michael and Mike leveraged their childhood dream of running their own business to build RISE from the ground up and turn it into Canada’s top ergonomic desk brand in under a year. Read on to find out more about how two best friends, turned co-founders, got their start and now manage one of the most successful ergonomic furniture brands in Canada.
Meet the Michaels
Meet Michael and Mike (formerly known as Michael, but now goes by Mike to avoid confusion), also known as Michael^2. Together, they are the Co-founders of RISEDESK, childhood best friends, and self-proclaimed members of generation Z. When they’re not busy managing RISEDESK (which is very rare), you can find them playing sports or spending time with friends and family. Their personal favorite sport is Ultimate Frisbee, on account of them playing on the same team throughout their university careers.
Michael and Mike grew up together in Vancouver where they bonded over their many similarities, unironically including their identical first names and drive to make a positive impact in their community. Even throughout their childhoods, their passion for entrepreneurship shined brightly through their personalities. From a young age, Michael and Mike have unknowingly chased their dream of one day becoming their own bosses. From turning late night conversations about becoming future CEOs into a reality, Michael and Mike have always had the drive and passion to own their own business. They stuck together through thick and thin, inspiring and learning from one another with each day that passed. As time went on and as their friendship grew, the dream of running their own business quickly became real. After moving to Toronto together, graduating from university and finally entering the corporate world, they had decided that it was now or never, and, with that, RISE was born. Since then, neither Mike nor Michael have looked back.
The story behind RISE
You’ve heard the story of Michael and Mike, now it’s time to introduce the business they grew and nurtured together. RISE was initially started as a side hustle for co-founders Michael and Mike. Busy with their corporate 9-5 responsibilities, neither Mike nor Michael had the time they wanted to completely devote themselves to RISE. As they continued down this path, they watched their health decline before their eyes, but slowly saw the stars beginning to align for the launch of their own business venture.
Throughout their lives, Michael and Mike both personally experienced the constant injuries and pains of not having access to ergonomic furniture. Growing up and coming from immigrant families, neither was fortunate enough to enjoy the luxuries of standing desks or ergonomic chairs. Over the years, they both saw their health suffer. This only got worse as they entered the corporate working world and were confined to the average, one-size-fits-all desk for eight hours a day, five days a week. This was intensified as the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the government implemented stay-at-home mandates. For Mike and Michael, this meant never going out, sitting at their desks all day, and of course, playing video games. It wasn’t until this point that they truly understood the importance of owning ergonomic furniture. After having lived through a never ending cycle of neck, back and hip pain, they decided to take action.
With their corporate careers slowly plateauing, the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic increasing, and their own health declining, it was as if the universe were sending Mike and Michael a signal to start their own ergonomic furniture business. To their surprise, Toronto was yet to have a standing desk brand, giving them even more motivation to turn their dreams of entrepreneurship into a reality.
Tribute to Canadian Roots
The road to becoming successful co-founders was not easy for Mike and Michael. Filled with countless ups and downs, their journey as entrepreneurs has been a rollercoaster of emotions to say the least. From the endless workdays that turned into nights, Micheal and Mike have fought valiantly for RISE’s success. Despite this, they will forever be grateful for Toronto, the city which enabled them to reap such success and continue to grow the RISE brand across Canada. As Michael always says, “We’re from Toronto, we believe in Toronto, this is our home, we plan to stay here.” As much as Mike and Michael believe in the talent of themselves and their team, they know that they wouldn’t be where they are today without the immense support and loyalty of Toronto to RISE, as well as other local businesses. Mike and Michael are inspired by the vast talent and resources of the city, which continues to motivate them everyday. To show their gratitude, Michael and Mike founded several social initiative programs run by RISE that are targeted towards giving back to the community which has supported them throughout their journey.
Since founding RISE, building a community centered around a common interest has been a priority for Mike and Michael. With their newly built platform, achieving this became easier. Over its lifetime, RISE has partnered and supported local Toronto influencers. From chiropractors to fitness influencers, RISE partners with influencers who share the same values and goals. Without their increased platform from these partnerships, RISE would not experience the same success as it does today. Mike and Michael hope to continue supporting small Toronto artists while growing the RISE brand globally.
Rise Up Against Climate Change
As co-founders, Michael and Mike strive to be cognizant of the social and environmental impacts of their actions. It has always been an important goal of theirs to leave a positive impact in their communities. As entrepreneurs with the resources to make a difference, they knew they had to take action, especially as RISE operates in the furniture space, one of the most wasteful industries.
Launched in November 2021, Rise Up Against Climate Change was started as a joint initiative between RISE and the Arbour Day Foundation. Under this partnership, RISE pledged to plant 10 trees across North America for each order that is placed. The goal of this partnership was to support reforestation and restoration programs in North America. Through the platform Michael and Mike have crafted for RISE, supporting these efforts has become more accessible. Together, they hope to continue engaging in social initiatives that better not only their local communities, but communities all around the world.