d/s or DesignStory pitches itself as an “online community for design loving people”. DesignStory is going after the huge private sales market that has emerged globally in the recent years. DesignStory is a US-Finland based company. The main company is in the US, while a sister company, has been established in Finland. Currently there are quite a few people working with the company, but the founders Mia Lewin and Inka Mero, are the driving forces behind the company.
DesignStory launched earlier this week, after having worked through a friends and family phase with some 500 members. While many of the marketing and sales actions are taken and done in the US, the Finnish hub concentrates on R&D and product decisions. Wisely placed as Finland has superior government support for R&D activities. As many have said before, there’s no room for patriotism in entrepreneurship and this is exactly what people should be doing all over if they have a chance at it.
The interior design market is huge by ay standards. By some studies, it annual brings in revenues of 70 billion dollars while around 4 billion of these is done through online channels. Needless to say, DesignStory isn’t alone in the market place. There are numerous companies in this space, Gilt and One Kings Lane perhaps the most famous ones.
Gilt generates revenues of around 450 million dollars while being only 4 or so years old. One Kings Lane is one of Kleiner Perkin’s portfolio companies so the big companies are also placing their bets in this space.
Despite the big competition, there’s a lot of good built into DesignStory. Not only into the product, but also other aspects of business as well as the group of people around them. I talked to Inka Mero (disclosure: we used to work together in Apaja before) about design story and how they’ve built it.
DesignStory aims to be more of a marketing and sales kind of company. They don’t hold any inventory of their own, as they ship all goods from their suppliers’ warehouses. Every week, DesignStory visitors will see a different campaign. Each campaign will hold various different goods from a different designer.
DesignStory also aims at the same what other eCommerce sites also try to achieve – few clicks to buy and enhance the buying experience with big visuals and interactive product offering. DesignStory also aims to photograph the products in their natural surroundings to further ease the purchase decision.
What is cool though, about the company is that it aims to provide design goods for the average household. To exaggerate a little, there’s Ikea with its mass products and high end products at the other end that cost thousands of dollars – Design story aims to fill the gap between these, premium products that most of us can afford.
Mero and Lewin have also managed to attract quite an advisory board around them. The company has about 15 angels on board at the moment including Jonathan Turner, Toyo Shimano, Tarja Pääkkönen and many others. On top of the 15 angels, they have about 10 advisors on board.
Financially, they’re backed well. Inka Mero told me that they’re looking for an A round of investments in about 6 to 12 months at around 2 to 3 million euros. With regard to the market size, an investment of that size shouldn’t be any problem – especially with the trust of the advisors and angels on board.
The only thing standing between them and the next round is the progress they’re able to ramp up in the coming months. We’ll be sure to follow their development in the recent months.
Update (4pm – 3.9.2010): Disclaimer – we have worked with in single project with KoppiCatch close to a year ago. KoppiCatch is the Vigo accelerator company where Inka Mero also works.