Living in NYC with the ever-increasing rents requires you to stay in an apartment for a few years, wait until the rent becomes unbearable, and then move somewhere else. This cycle is often repeated over and over again. However, moving presents its own set of challenges with the considerations of if your furniture will fit in the new place, leading to a constant buying and selling of furniture and bedding for many New Y0rkers. This is where Furnishare comes in. It’s an e-commerce platform that helps you buy and sell local furniture to fellow New Yorkers, while doing the heavy lifting of moving the furniture in and out of your apartment – the part that we all dread. The company offers high quality furniture due to the high turnover rate of people in the city and provides a large marketplace of buyers for your old furniture as well. So whether you are saying goodbye to your furniture or welcoming in a new purchase, Furnishare is the first place you should look for discounted, used furniture. It’s time you forgot about Craig’s List.
AlleyWatch chatted with founder Alpay Koralturk about the company and their most recent round of funding.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We just closed a $2M Seed round that was led by Lerer Hippeau. There were two other institutional investors, Correlation Ventures and Max Ventures. We also had angel investor Richard Kerby (formerly Venrock) and entrepreneurs Nevzat Aydin (founder at yemeksepeti.com, sold to Delivery Hero for $589M) and Firat Isbecer (founder at Pozitron, sold to Monetise for $100M) in the round.
Tell us about your product or service.
Furnishare is the easiest way to buy and sell furniture online. We pick up curated, top quality, brand name furniture from local owners and provide discounted sales online. Because we do all of the heavy lifting from pickup to delivery, we are the most convenient way to go green with used furniture.
I got married in 2014 and had to furnish a new apartment with my wife. That was my seventh move in NYC, one of which was a move overseas to start my first company Gram Games, so I was very familiar with the pain points of both buying and selling furniture.
Like many other millennials, my wife and I care about the sustainability aspect of buying used, so we tried some of the used providers while furnishing that first apartment. After a couple of bad experiences with them, all of my previous memories came back to mind and I decided to do something about it. There just had to be a better way.
How is it different?
We’re simply the most convenient used furniture store out there. If you have good furniture and you kept them in good shape, we make your life extremely easy. You get a fast and free pickup, and we handle everything else that comes after.
Similarly, if you’re looking to buy used furniture, we provide a white glove delivery service and it’s fast given that everything is already in our warehouse. In addition, because we vet and take high-resolution photos of each piece, the experience really outmatches the used furniture experience that’s out there.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
The used furniture market is estimated to be a $10+ billion-dollar market today. We expect this market to grow significantly over the next decade as the environmentally conscious millennials age and services like Furnishare make the used furniture experience significantly better.
What’s your business model?
We provide free pickups, but share only a portion of the revenue generated from the sales of the items. The sellers pick the amount of revenue they want to receive during the submission process. At the moment, they can select between 0 and 40%.
What are your plans to expand outside of the NYC area?
We strongly believe that our model will work in all large cities that have increasingly transient populations, both in the US or internationally. We will begin to expand aggressively beginning 2019.
What was the funding process like?
I have done several smaller rounds for Furnishare and Gram Games, so the process wasn’t entirely new to me. That said, getting to talk to some of the top investors out there and hearing them evaluating our process was exhilarating. I view fundraising as a great opportunity to collect feedback. Of course, the goal is to close the round, but the reality is that a significant majority of the people you talk to won’t invest. But they can provide very valuable feedback, so you have to make sure you’re at least walking away with that.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
Sadly, the Moveloot story has reduced VC appetite in our sector, especially for companies like us who are trying to solve the problem with a similar hands-on approach. The fashionable model today is a lightly managed or unmanaged marketplace. The trouble with that is the unit economics of such a model don’t make enough sense to interest VCs or build a huge success story. As such, we had to look hard to find the investors that really understood the value proposition and why our approach would work.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
Ultimately, I think our relentless focus from day one on technology and execution was the reason we were able to close the round. We have done very little marketing to date and focused primarily on finetuning our operation and perfecting our customer experience. Our partners at Lerer Hippeau really understood not just the vision, but also our execution and approach as well. They were one of the few teams that really got it.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
To date, we have only made hires in the operations and customer support areas. Therefore, we have some key positions to fill like CMO and CTO, who will need to come in and start building their teams. We also want to grow our service area significantly beyond NYC, which is where we primarily operate today.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
It’s all about traction, traction, traction! Prioritize ruthlessly on things that move the needle for your business, so that you can grab the attention of VCs and get that fresh injection of capital in the bank.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
The next 12 months are definitely an exciting time for us at Furnishare. We have spent years quietly perfecting our service and it’s finally time for us to come out and let the world know that you can save a lot of money, get great furniture sustainably and do it all very conveniently. We expect to see our market penetration increase considerably in the greater NY region.
What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?
Casa Enrique in Long Island City, which is where I live. It’s a relatively less known Mexican restaurant that has incredibly great food — they have a Michelin star! — but also come at a significantly better price point than other Michelin star restaurants in the City.