Whether you are decorating a new home or just feel like renovating, it is often helpful to get as many second opinions as you can to make sure the room gives off the vibe you want. You may ask your mother and a few friends what they think, but they may just tell you it looks great when it’s not quite there yet. If you want sound advice from the masses, check out Decorator. The crowdsourcing app lets you upload your need and a virtual room giving users a chance to comment, decorate, and design your room.
LA TechWatch chatted with CEO and Founder Vanessa Ronan about the Startup and the company’s first round of funding.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We raised $250K in a family and friends round.
Tell us about your product or service.
Decorator is a platform to crowdsource interior design. You upload some, and other people redesign your room for you. You can see how it would look with different wall colors and new furniture, and get ideas about how to rearrange the furniture you already have. Decorator is the first-of-its-kind community that connects design enthusiasts with people who want help decorating.
What inspired you to start the company?
Decorator was inspired by The Sims – the computer game that lets you build and furnish houses. It was my favorite game as a kid, and I would spend hours perfecting the decor in each room I made. Years after I stopped playing the game, I was studying computer science at Harvey Mudd College. I never lost my passion for interior design, and one day the idea for a real-life version of the game struck me.
How is it different?
Most startups combining interior design and technology are making it easier to hire a professional. We’re enabling design enthusiasts, instead of professionals, to share their home decorating ideas and help people out at no cost.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
Our market has two sides: people asking for design advice and people giving it. We estimate there are around 40M people in each group in the US. The market mostly consists of HGTV-watchers, Houzz-users, and people who are moving.
What’s your business model?
We sell furniture through affiliate partners. Every product in our catalog comes from a popular store like One Kings Lane or Lumens, and it’s easy to buy items directly through Decorator at retail price.
What are some features that users have requested?
Our biggest request is for a before/after photo gallery, which is a great idea. Some people have also mentioned an “Uber for interior design” service.
What was the funding process like?
The funding process was pretty straightforward, since our investors expressed interest in investing early on.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
The hardest part about our round was setting expectations and determining our valuation. It was our first time raising money, so we had to learn about the legal overhead.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
The biggest factor, as is common for early rounds, was the team. Our investors know our backgrounds and have seen our abilities to excel. They believe we’ll be able to carry our other experiences over to become successful first-time founders.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
We plan to significantly improve and grow the app. We’re aiming to continue increasing our monthly growth, expand our furniture catalog 10x, and make the user experience more fun and engaging.
What advice can you offer companies in Los Angeles that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Keep your product as simple as possible. Don’t add bells and whistles until the basics work and you’re sure you’re building something people want. Once you prove the foundation, add the extra features to keep people coming back.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
We’ve been heavily focused on the product over the past couple of months, and we’re planning to continue improving it. Expect to see some big changes this summer.
Where is the best place in LA to watch the sunset?
I’m flying over Malibu on my way to San Francisco right now, and the sunset out the window is gorgeous.