Interior design can be tough. How do you pick the right designer? And once you’ve found them, are they in your price range? It’s not an easy process but this recently funded company is making it simple. Havenly, the online design option is providing all the tools you need to go from a fixer-upper to your masterpiece.
Cofounder Emily Motayed tells AlleyWatch how to get beautiful and well-priced interior design service that is right for you, as well as the company’s recent funding.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise? The funding raised was a Series A. The Foundry Group was the lead investor, with participation from Chicago Ventures and 500 Startups, and the total amount raised, to date, is $7.5 million.
Tell us about your product or service. Havenly is an online interior design service that allows anyone to create the room of their dreams by matching users with a dedicated designer who will decorate and shop the space for a flat-fee starting from $79. Using an online style quiz to find the best interior design aesthetic and pieces, Havenly allows users and designers to virtually work together to create the perfectly curated space based on any budget.
What inspired you to start the company?
We created Havenly out of a personal need – both of us had moved into our respective new homes, and there was no option in the market for someone like us – we were overwhelmed with all the furniture options that were available out there, and it was extremely difficult to visualize how our place would look like. We needed some professional help but had no idea where to start. Additionally, traditional interior design services, which cost upwards of thousands of dollars, were completely out of our price point. It was from that personal pain point that we came up with building the number one destination for online interior design services.
How is it different?
There’s no real way for someone to get their space professionally decorated in an affordable manner – unless you’re lucky enough to have a talented friend or mom, your only real option, if you don’t have the time and energy to do it yourself, is to hire an interior decorator. However, the existing interior design industry is very cost prohibitive – on top of furniture, which already consists of big ticket items, you have to pay someone on an hourly basis or pay them thousands of dollars per room to get your place decorated.
We are moving that entry price point down by leveraging technology to decorate your space virtually – you spend some time chatting with your designer, send over some pictures and measurements, and we produce a beautiful design plan for you, while incorporating your feedback throughout the process. It’s a new way of looking at interior design and is tailored to our generation: a generation that is accustomed to e-commerce and online services in every other type of vertical. Additionally, in comparison to many of our other competitors, our designers are extensively vetted, trained and managed, so that every client has a fantastic design experience with Havenly.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
We are addressing the market of young professionals and design enthusiasts, who are looking for a service that conveys ease, personalization, and convenience when it comes to designing their home. Those target demos control approximately $30B in furnishings spend annually.
What’s your business model?
We receive money from the upfront design fee, as well as selling furniture (at the best price out there) to our customers.
What was the funding process like?
It can be a relatively obtuse process; sometimes you don’t know why someone said no- or why they said yes! We were lucky to have some early backers that continued to believe in us, and the benefits of metrics that showed signs of early success – that people actually wanted what we were selling!
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
It’s easy to second guess yourself and the business, when you are receiving advice from multiple people, and often times the advice contradicts each other. The main thing is to focus on what you believe is right for your business, rather than listen to the noise around you, because you, as the creator of the business, are the one that knows what is right in your gut for your business.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
The phenomenal growth that we have seen over the past few months, as well as the incredibly positive reaction from our clients, are factors that we think led to investors believing in our company as well as believing in the direction that we are taking Havenly.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
We plan on continuing to grow the headcount of our team, in order to supplement our already amazing team. We’re really focusing on hiring the best people, that are not only talented, but also a great cultural fit.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Being scrappy will be the only way to get your company off the ground. There are ways to get the word out about your product without spending a dime on marketing – that’s how we operated for the first months before any funding kicked in. We relied on building an amazing product and having our happy customers tell all their friends – you can be scrappy, and often it’s even better to have a lack of financing because it forces you and your team to work harder, faster, and more effectively.
Where is your favorite place to enjoy the fall weather in the area?
There’s no place like Central Park to watch the leaves turn that beautiful brown and orange color. No wonder it’s so many people’s favorite time of the year!