Havenly is a Denver, Colorado-based startup that connects consumers with screened and trained interior designers. Recently, Havenly raised $12.5 million in Series B funding led by Foundry Group with participation from Industry Ventures, Chicago Ventures and Kickstart Fund.
Prior to the Series B round, the company had raised $13 million in funding. The Series B funding will be used to expand its team and enhance its technology platform.
Users are asked to answer a few interior design style questions and upload photos or videos of their space, and share inspiration photos of their perfect home. They can then choose from a few designers, and collaborate with their designer to create a personalized design for their space. The customer can then purchase products suggested all through Havenly, at the best price out there. There are two package offerings, including a $79 mini offering (three design ideas, one design concept and two revisions) and a $199 full offering package (everything in the mini offering and a 3D room layout visualization).
Havenly filters through millions of products across 400 furnishing partners. And Havenly saw its business grow 14x over the past two years.
Prior to starting Havenly, CEO and c0-founder Lee Mayer grew up in the suburbs of Washington D.C. She moved to New York City to attend Columbia University for college and spent a few years after graduation in the city working in corporate development and consulting. Subsequently, she moved to Boston to get an MBA from Harvard Business School. After another few years in New York City working in consulting, she decided to migrate out west and settle in Denver where she worked at the publicly traded digital lead generation company, Bankrate.
How did Mayer come up with the idea for Havenly? “It was a personal need of my own – I moved to Denver and bought a house, which needed way more furniture than what I had from my tiny apartment in New York City. However, I was working long days, and I felt like it was nearly impossible to find the time to try and figure out what to buy, and how to make it all go together. I wished for the service, and then we ultimately ended up building it,” said Mayer in an interview.
Once the concept and idea was established, Mayer told me she and her co-founders conducted market research to see if consumers would be “willing to pay for a service like this.” The product was then tested on the first set of customers and the team aggressively courted feedback. Then Mayer and her co-founders iterated on the idea and tried the product in the market again.
“Eventually we hired some people and the business started to grow through word of mouth. It can be overwhelming in the beginning, when there is so much to do before you create something sizeable – so we just put one foot in front of the other. If you just know the next thing to do, starting a company seems far more manageable,” added Mayer.
When Havenly first started, Mayer was the only software developer, using resources like Stack Overflow to help her develop the first website. The initial web application was fairly simple with user registration and file/image upload capability. As Havenly brought in more employees the company updated the technology and built algorithms that “understand the style and designer preferences of any customer, and developed an entire e-commerce back end that allows our customer to purchase items across 400+ vendors.”
Mayer said getting the first paying customer was one of the biggest milestones. Soon thereafter, the company started to see customers signing up and began to realize that they might be on to something.
There are many stories about how Havenly users found the service very useful. “We’ve followed one couple from their Brooklyn new couple pad, through to the home they moved into when they got married and just did their first nursery – it’s been amazing to feel like we get to serve their family as we both grow. We also recently redecorated some of the homes of our clients that lost their possessions in Hurricane Harvey,” Mayer explained.
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