We had an interesting chat with Mr. “Adam Pilling”, Foundert at the London – UK based start-up “MyHomeNeedsThat”
Below is the interview we conducted with him:
1. What is it exactly that you do and what your start-up is all about?
I’m the co-founder and technical director of www.myhomeneedsthat.com. The site is the UK’s first search engine dedicated to furniture and homeware. The site also features a home design blog which focuses on products featured on the site.
2. When has your startup been founded? And what stage is your startup currently at?
We conceived the idea about 4 months ago and the site went live about 3 weeks ago. We’re now looking to improve our online presence and expand our social media and marketing operations.
3. What is your startup’s business model and how does it work?
Our model is really simple. We feature products from all the main online and high-street retailers and when a user clicks through to the site to purchase an item we receive a commission.
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
We’re a husband and wife team and we’ve been together since high-school where we met. I’m the technical brawn whereas my wife provides the creative brain.
5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?
We’ve made our site very much from the user’s point-of-view, focusing on creating a simple, instinctive interface that allows users to find exactly what they want, quickly. A lot of effort has gone into creating accurate search functions, meaningful categorizations and useful filters which deliver added-value over similar sites in our space.
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has your startup achieved so far?
We’ve had fantastic growth over the last few months, going from almost no traffic at all to about 3000 uniques per month. This has led to conversations of about 8%.
7. Who are your competitors? And what is your start-up’s competitive advantage over them?
Shopstyle.co.uk is our main competitor but their focus in primarily on fashion and their home section is not well maintained or user friendly. This section of their site is simply an aggregator with poor data quality and no real user interaction.
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
We’ve been working on the site solely in our spare time so every spare moment has been spent making tweaks and additions. The build of the site was very time consuming and, as I outsourced the development, it was difficult to get across my ideas and ensure they were delivered as I wanted.
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
Outsiders will probably be unaware of the effort required to get good quality, clean data. This is absolutely fundamental to the success of the site but is totally transparent to the end user. It only becomes apparent when the quality drops which we hope never happens!
10. Why are you going to succeed?
I think we have a very pragmatic but determined approach and we’re not afraid to try unorthodox things to help the site succeed. Owning our own business has been something we have aspired to and have planned for so now it is a reality we won’t stop until it is successful.
11. If your startup succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
The scope for this type of site is huge. The obvious move would be to replicate the functionality in another country outside of the UK, probably USA. We could also start to focus on other product types or include some smaller, independent retailers.
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build your start-up based on?
My wife and I moved into our own home and found it very difficult to find the right pieces of furniture and homeware. There was an instant feeling of “there must be a better way” to do this instead of trawling through endless websites and shops. Finally, we decided to create our site to fill that gap.
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
We’ve learnt an enormous amount relating to web development, marketing but especially SEO. The internet is an incredibly competitive place and some of the old methods of driving cheap traffic no longer apply so you’ve got to be creative and not be affected by small failures.
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
Six months from now seems a long time but it will pass in a heartbeat. Hopefully we will be getting some decent organic traffic by then so I expect we’ll be trying to push onto the next level and find a way to make paid advertisement become profitable.
15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?
Users no longer have to trawl many websites and visit many stores to find the perfect item for their home, they can do it in one place from the comfort of their armchair!
16. How did customers / users find out about you?
We are really active on social media so many of our users find out about us via Twitter and Facebook. In addition, we are stepping up our SEO strategy to try and drive some organic traffic too.
17. Who are your current customers / users? Who are your target customers / users?
Our target market is people who have just moved home or are looking to revamp their current home. This tends to be people in their 30s and is predominantly driven by women.
18. Where do new customers / users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?
Word-of-mouth is a very powerful for a utility site like ours. If people have a good experience they tell their friends. The features on our blog focus on showing off the best products on the site so this also helps tempt users onto the site.
19. What do your customers / users say about your product and/or service?
Our users always compliment how slick and easy-to-use the site is and how graphically striking the home page images are. It is crucial to our success that when a user lands on our home page they feel instantly comfortable using the site.
20. How are you going to scale?
Scale should be relatively simple. From an initial shared hosting platform we can seamlessly move to dedicated hosting or a cloud solution with only minor tweaks to the site itself. In the future we may consider caching the product information but only once demand requires it.
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?
The feature we have had the most requests for is a bookmarking facility so that users can remember the items they found interesting. We are working on releasing this soon.
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
Branching out into other countries should be relatively simple as we would use the same infrastructure but utilize a subdomain on the site to redirect users to the correct products. The potential difficulty comes from sourcing the products in another region.
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
We would like to be THE go to site for all furniture and homeware searches. At the moment, Google probably fills this role but their site is built on volume rather than quality so I think we have a competitive advantage in that respect.
24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?
At the moment we are happy to consolidate our current position although we are always looking for clever or creative marketing and SEO specialists. I tend to prefer to do most of the work myself.
25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?
We have a pretty self-sustainable model but we are always on the lookout for potential partnerships and synergies with other companies to help us expand our reach.
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
Find a project that you think you will enjoy and can relate to. Be realistic about your goals and seek as much advice as possible. Also, try not to spend any money at all, that way when you really need to spend it it won’t be so bad.
27. Finally, do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
If anyone wants more info feel free to get in touch!