Moving in NYC is an absolute pain. The thought of you moving your couch may make you concede defeat and renew your lease at your existing place for whatever absurd rent increase your landlord has conjured up. Burrow is here to fix this once and for all. The direct-to-consumer sofa manufacturer offers free shipping, delivers to your door, and boasts customizable luxurious couches without breaking the bank. Offering a 30 day trial, the company offers an innovative modularized system for the couches that offers the ability to grow as your needs change as well as allowing for simple breaking down and transport. In fact, the couches can be put together in less than 10 minutes. This modularized system also has the added benefit of reducing transport costs, keeping prices extremely reasonable. The world has changed in so many ways and it’s about time that owning and transporting your sofa became a stress-free experience and Burrow offers exactly that.
AlleyWatch spoke with cofounder Stephen Kuhl about the company, their launch, and to discuss their most recent round of funding.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We just closed our Seed Round, which was led by Red & Blue Ventures, with participation from Interplay Ventures and notable angel investors such as Twitch.tv Founder Justin Kan, Y-Combinator CEO Michael Seibel and veteran retail executive Ken Pilot. Total for the round was $4.3M
Tell us about your product or service.
Burrow re-invented the luxury couch by cutting out unnecessary shipping time and money, without sacrificing on comfort or quality. With our award-winning, modular design, we ship our couches in easy-to-carry boxes directly to our customers. Using locally sourced wood and chemical-free fabrics, we’ve created a high-end, affordable sofa for the modern consumer. In November we expanded beyond the couch with the launch of our chaise sectional and ottoman.
What inspired you to start the company?
We were inspired by our own frustrating experiences shopping for furniture. We were in grad school trying to buy sofas for our respective apartments. My cofounder Kabeer picked out a couch from West Elm, but discovered that it wouldn’t be delivered to his apartment for 12 weeks. Instead of waiting, he walked over to the nearby West Elm and carried home a sofa that was in stock to avoid paying an expensive shipping fee. I took a different route and rented a U-Haul to pick up a sofa from IKEA. It ended up being an extremely tedious set up process, taking 3 hours to assemble. Kabeer and I were discussing our different sofa shopping experiences over a beer and realized there had to be a better way to buy something that everyone needs. From there, Burrow began.
How is it different?
Traditionally sofas have been either cheap, flimsy and tedious to assemble or heavy, difficult to move and take weeks to ship. There was no middle ground, no high-end affordable sofa for the consumer that values convenience. Enter Burrow.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
We are targeting the modern consumer, a demographic that values convenience and high-quality products at an affordable price. This includes many different types of consumers, everyone from the post-grad in their mid-twenties looking to graduate from IKEA to parents with young kids looking for safe, sustainable, easy-to-clean furniture.
What’s your business model?
We’re a digitally native vertical brand. In today’s digital age, e-commerce companies are hugely popular, so having the ability to cut out the middle man and ship directly to our customers has been great for us. But most importantly our innovative design has allowed us to save our customers hundreds of dollars by removing all retail markups and over 70 percent of standard shipping costs.
Do your future plans including some sort of physical presence whether a brick and mortar presence or in retailers?
We have partnerships with retailers, like Bonobos and coworking spaces, across the country so that customers can try out our sofa in their stores. We also have an incredible lounge in our office in Flatiron in NYC. Please come check it out if you’re in the neighborhood!
What was the fundraising process like?
In the consumer space, it seems the best way to prove your model will work is to prove your model works. The more traction we gained, the easier it was to raise. As first-time founders it has been a learning process for sure, and we’re grateful for all the help and advice we’ve received along the way.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
We’re not the first company to try to solve the problems of the furniture industry, and many companies before us have either failed completely or failed to be great investments. That was probably the biggest hurdle we faced.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
When investors were able to see that we created a completely new product category that improved the customer’s experience and cut out the massive shipping costs that prevent most furniture companies from scaling in the upholstered furniture category, they could see the path to success. Others just believed in us. We’ve accomplished a lot with limited resources in short period of time.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
In the first year alone, we were able to launch our brand, close our seed round, move our manufacturing from Mexico to the U.S. and launch 2 additional new products, all while growing over 20% month-over-month. In the next six months we hope to continue to grow the business and expand our offerings beyond the sofa.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Get creative. There are many ways to negotiate terms with suppliers, partners, and others to make sure you’re spending more than you’re making. Also, the sooner you can prove parts of your business model work, the sooner you’ll attract more resources to help you grow.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
In the near term our focus is on expanding our marketing channels and identifying more ways to connect with potential customers.
What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?
L’Artusi. It’s the only high-end restaurant I know of that’s frequented by celebrities where you can order an entrée for less than $20. We are after all a startup, and are forced to be cheap.