Redecorating is hard work. That’s a fact that consumers often learn the hard way when they set out on what they think will be a relatively short and simple journey to redecorate a room (or if they are ambitious, a series of rooms) and find it takes much longer and costs far more than they had ever imagined.
Because, as it turns out, unlike buying shoes, clothes or personal electronics — home goods not only have to work individually (or in concert with a handful of other things at most), but also in concert with each other and in a way that the customer wants to look at, day in and day out, and for a long time. The brave consumer who attempts mixing and matching across various retailers runs the risk of ending up with a living room that leaves something to be desired — something that is much easier found at the hands of a designer with a good eye for pulling together all the right elements to make you feel at home.
Retailers are not unaware of this difficulty of course, and as curation has increasingly become the order of the day, retailers both online and offline have enhanced their efforts at offering more than just standalone home decor items. Many retailers are now seeking to bring the catalog to life, and providing full design schemes, such as the fully designed “ideas” sections from Ikea or inspiration galleries via Wayfair. Ikea’s ideas even come with inspirational stories about the various Scandinavian micro-estate visits that inspired the collection. Target has actually rethought its in-store merchandising strategy when it comes to home goods, and it is now offering larger curated listings.
And while these ideas have all gained various levels of traction, some consumers have been left looking for more individualized ways to design their own more personalized Scandinavian micro-estate.
Well, OK, maybe not quite. But many consumers are at least determined in their pursuits of a more personalized house or apartment.
Which is where Modsy enters the picture. Modsy is a startup that almost no one has ever heard of — and for good reason, because it has not launched yet.
But when it launches, it could be a game changer for how home furnishings are sold and how virtual reality modeling is used in eCommerce going forward.
“Could” being the operative word in that sentence, because as of yet Modsy is just getting its feet wet, having just snapped up an $8 million Series A round led by Norwest Venture Partners, with participation from investors such as Restoration Hardware, Gotham Gal Venture and Dolby Ventures.
When the site launches, it will work by taking an inventory of users’ taste and design wants, as well as their budgetary constraints. Users then upload four pictures of the spaces they wish to redesign and feed them into the Modsy app on their mobile device.
A few days later, Modsy spits back a photorealistic VR rendering of the space — now redecorated with items from affiliated designers. Users who like what they see can then either click to buy (in some cases), or they are redirected to retail sites where the items are carried.
“This financing will help us accelerate the company’s trajectory in several key ways. We will continue to recruit the most talented graphic engineers, 3-D artists and designers, ramp up our marketing efforts, and continue to scale as we head towards our public launch,” noted Shanna Tellerman, Modsy’s CEO.
Modsy has only existed for 11 months (originally the firm was known as Pencil + Pixel) and as it is prelaunch, it is hard to evaluate the service. One TechCrunch writer who got to take it out for a test drive said the tech blew them away.
The firm did release some early data on its user base earlier this month on its blog. Some of it is what one would expect: The majority of Modsy beta users are younger — 24-34 is the biggest segment — and its hometown in San Francisco is where it has the most users. But there are some interesting surprises as well: 35-44 year old consumers are their fastest growing segment and the majority of users are redecorating current homes, not moving into new ones.
As for joining that beta, well, there is a waiting list, but the firm is offering a “cut” in the line, so to speak, for website visitors who take the Modsy Style Quiz, which the site promises as a way to rapidly improve one’s position.
And jumping up on that beta list is, as of now, a consumer’s best chance of using the service. So far, the startup has not announced when its public launch will be.
Investments For Week Ending 1-29-16
Now that was a big week. January went out with a bang, not a whimper as the period that ended on Jan. 29 saw investment flows to the tune of more than $6 billion. That’s more than, well, some months that have been seen across the past year.
No surprise here, but FinTech ruled the roost, with the bulk of activity in the week, utterly dwarfing B2B.
Forget triple-digit deals. How about a few deals that came in at the billions of dollars threshold?
The biggest deal came as Huntington Bancshares said last week that it would acquire FirstMerit for $3.4 billion. The move creates a Midwestern United States banking conglomerate with a presence in eight states throughout the region, with roughly $100 billion in combined assets.
In another merger, TSYS said that it would buy TransFirst for $2.3 billion in cash from its private equity owner. As has been reported, the credit card and payments processor now takes its place as the sixth largest merchant acquirer as measured by revenues. The addition of TransFirst helps broaden small and mid-sized merchant presence.
Drilling down a bit to see which subsectors gained the most traction, banking ruled the roost, with $5 billion in deal flow, and POS/payments tech followed up a bit behind, with $2.3 billion in activity.
With a flurry of activity dominating the most recent few days, it remains to be seen if we’ll return to a more “normalized” rate of investment in the weeks and months ahead.