When it comes to furniture and home décor, we often have trouble visualizing what a couch or vase will look like in our home. Yet we know what the room looks like and we also know what the item looks like; albeit independently. Enter Hutch (formerly HOMEE), a mobile interior design platform that lets you upload your room of choice and swap in products into the room using their proprietary technology. The free tech-enabled interior design platform provides a wide variety of styles and all the products on the platform are shoppable; yielding Hutch a share of the sale. You can now personalize your home’s look in a quick and efficient manner without ever having to interact with an overpriced interior designer.
LA TechWatch chatted with CEO and founder Beatrice Fischel-Bock about the future of tech-enabled interior design and Hutch’s most recent round of funding.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We raised $10M Series A from Zillow Group, raising our funding total to $17.1M.
Tell us about your product or service.
Hutch is an interior design media and mobile-commerce company that is reimagining how to conceptualize home furnishing and decor by using on-demand filters to decorate spaces instantaneously. Created with proprietary photo technology, Hutch builds a virtual rendering of your personal space (cleared of furniture) to begin the design process.
What inspired you to start the company?
During my junior year at GW, I began to realize that most of my peers were moving on a continuous basis and were in desperate need of design advice. Since my future cofounders and I were majoring in architecture, we were receiving a large number of those inquiries – a challenge we gladly accepted. After a short time of spending countless hours helping our friends for free, we began to charge, and soon realized that the most efficient way to complete the job was to design virtually. That idea ultimately led us to earning $1M in revenue before graduation and shortly after became the first prototype for Hutch.
How is it different?
First and foremost, Hutch is free. We are also one of the fastest interior design services on the market – targeting a tech-savvy generation who gravitate towards products that are versatile, interactive, self-guided and personalized. After years of experience, we came to the conclusion that the majority of consumers prefer immediate service rather than a lengthy interaction with a designer. Our proprietary technology allows users to apply design filters (similar to Snapchat) to spaces instantaneously and all of the products are shoppable directly through the app.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
We are targeting millennials who are moving annually and want to live in a beautiful space without the hefty price tag attached to an interior decorator. The global market size of the interior design business is $9.1B.
What’s your business model?
Currently, our earnings are generated from furniture sales but we are beginning to evolve into a media company as well as m-commerce so we will be focusing on ad sales in the near future.
Can you tell us about the change that accompanied your name change?
We realized that the name Homee was confusing for consumers. Our users weren’t sure how to pronounce or spell the name, which made the app store search more difficult than we had hoped. Hutch came about because it was a simple, a clean H word that – to be completely transparent – was an available domain name. A “Hutch” also happens to be a chic, old-fashioned piece of furniture – so we loved that crossover.
What was the funding process like?
I was fortunate enough to come across Sean Rad (the founder of Tinder) very early on. He spotted my pitch on Shark Tank and jumped on board to help raise $2.2M of pre-seed funding. Shortly after, Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund led our $5M seed round and I just recently closed our Series A, which came from the Zillow Group.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
I was very fortunate to have Sean by my side from the very beginning, so the challenges for Hutch were not as difficult as they could have been, but a personal challenge for me was definitely deciding how much to raise. It’s a fine line.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
I believe one of the biggest factors was my team’s ability to build unparalleled tech in such a short period of time. Hutch’s engineers and product team are relentless.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
We hope to expand our technology and make the app even more user friendly than it already is. We are also looking forward to expanding our product offerings and our usability offerings- for example: more rooms to design and a desktop version of the app.
What advice can you offer companies in Los Angeles that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
One word. Bootstrap! The first prototype doesn’t have to be perfect. Just start.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
The investment will be used to accelerate product development and marketing.
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