Bespokeshelves cansell themselves if you make it easy enough for buyers to be designers. Thats the conviction driving Warsaw-based Tylko, which just closed a3 million (~$3.1 million) Series A round aiming to step up its app-based custom flat-pack furniture business with additional marketing muscle, while alsoworking to expand therange ofproducts it sells online.
Investors in the new round are Paua Ventures, G+J Digital Ventures, Experior Venture Fund and Daftcode Ventures. The startuphas been sellingcustomizable hardwood shelving units as its first focus since September 2015 but doing so online and viamobile apps, rather than from bricks-and-mortar showrooms.
Its alsousing augmented reality to help grease the sales pipe. Users of the Tylko iOS app can push a button toview their custom shelving unit design in situ via their mobile device, thanks to AR although youfirst need to print an A4 context card, and put the paper on the floor where youreintending the shelves to sit.But so long as you have a printer handy, its a quick and painless way to get help visualizinghow furniture looks in a room arguably the biggest blocker to most furniture sales.
Tylko has paid special attention toseeking to simplify thecustomization process, usinga series of sliders to let users quickly tweak and applydimensions, styles and finishes. The designprocess is similarlystreamlined via an algorithmic process called parametric design that allows design changesto be rules-based and thus user-controlled by a slider, too.
So while users cant literally spec out exact interiorshelving dimensions of a Tylko shelf, they canadapt a design by eye (and finger) to get something thats more to their liking. Switching between different shelving designs is quick and easy just a case of a few taps and sliding a slideruntil you like the look of the result.
Parametric design permits the designer to create a controlled environment in which the customer can move with the use of the intuitive UI (such as sliders), explainsco-founder Mikoaj Molenda. The result is a product created by the designer yet adapted to the specific needs of the customer.
We realized that there was no easy way to get the perfect piece of furniture. Everything was either standardized or too complicated, so we decided to think in a customer-centric way so we could fulfill everyones needs, addsco-founder Jacek Majewski.
We know that shopping for furniture in the real world is a nightmare for many people. Its time consuming to fight the bustle of a busy shop to find the ideal piece amongst standardized products, and the product is bought, they often discover different hidden logistical costs or even worse have to transport it themselves. The assembly process is often tedious and at the end of the day, the product is very low quality.
This was our inspiration: to create a high-quality solution in which our clients needs are met from start to finish from personalizing the perfect-fit shelf, to easy in-home assembly.
The team tells TechCrunch theyve sold products to around 3,000 customers at this point, with Europe their main market so far, and within thatGerman-speaking countries and the U.K. though they havealso shipped further afield, including to Japan, Israel, Australia and the U.S.
Theyre using a fully automated manufacturing process, relying on CNC machines that receive production files straight from the customer, and machine parks based in Poland.
While shelving units are thefirst focus, they also offercustom tables with different dimensions, leg designs and colors. Theyre also intending to develop additional products with the new financing a well-placed source tells us storage will continue to bea focus, withcustom cupboards one likely future product, for example.
Tylko usesslow-growth wood from Finlands birch forests as thebase hardwood for its furniture. Customers have to wait between three and six weeks for delivery after theyve submitted an order, so thisdoes not match the immediacy of an IKEA DIY pick-up job, though Tylkosays theyre hoping to reducewait times soon. Shipping is also free within Europe.
Per-unit pricing is also generally muchhigher than flat-pack giant IKEAs products so,while a basicsix-shelf IKEA Billy bookcase cancost just40, aTylko hardwood grid-styled equivalent might cost as much as 440 but its chasing higher margins bytargeting more of a designer furniture buyer, given theuse of hardwood and ability for customizable dimensions, as well aslook and feel.
Tylko describesits customers as typically design and tech savvy, withan average age range of 25 to 35 andevidently plenty of disposable income to spend on minimal-looking furniture. Buyers cant change an order after its submitted, but the startupdoes offera 100-day return policy for any bespoke shelving regrets.