When people starting thinking about home decor, the web tends to be their first stop. Between retail sites, online magazines, and blogs, there are endless resources — sorting through them can be time-consuming and often results in dead ends.
That’s why interior designer Lisa Perrone and entrepreneur Kristen Miller founded Stylyze, an online service they believe can declutter the home decor shopping experience.
Stylyze is a platform that uses technology to recommend furniture and decor items based on pieces the homeowner already has.
“Stylyze takes the guesswork out of what works by recommending design concepts, called Styleboards, that match your sofa with complementary products like area rugs, table lamps and accent pillows that will complete your look in one click,” said Miller, who serves as the company’s CEO.
This past summer, the startup raised a seed round of $890,000 from a mix of 20 different angel investors.
“We see the success of this seed round as a vote of confidence from industry leaders in our vision for changing the e-commerce landscape for retail brands and customers alike,” Miller told GeekWire at the time.
We caught up with Miller for this Startup Spotlight, a regular GeekWire feature.
Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “Stylyze is like a virtual interior designer. We help people find and coordinate products for their home on their favorite home decor sites.”
Inspiration hit us when: “Lisa and I both worked in the interior design industry and spent countless hours trying to help clients describe their style. Then we spent even more hours trying to find products to bring their style to life. We knew that most people (interior designers included) often start their search for products online, and thought there must be a better way to help people find and coordinate products by colors and styles they love.”
VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “We bootstrapped long enough to know that we had product-market fit. To execute quickly and achieve scale we teamed up with angel investors who believe in our business and are able to provide value above and beyond the capital they contribute.”
Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “Our team. And not just our internal team, but our board of advisors and investors, who we see as team members, too. Companies are made of people first, not products or services — those are an extension of people. Lisa and I made a commitment early on to surround ourselves with people who are smarter than we are, who are masters in their respective fields and love what they do. This practice is not only what will enable us to win in the marketplace but continue to love what we do.”
The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Treat target retail partners as members of our team and engage them early, pre-product, even. This practice has ensured that as we deploy products, we have paying customers who embrace them.”
The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “Try to do to much too quickly. Beautiful things happen when the team is laser-focused on a set of deliverables that are narrow rather than broad.”
Would you rather have Gates, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “All three! But if we have to choose one, Jeff Bezos. He’s someone who bet on himself, just as we’re doing. He wanted to do a startup and knew that whether he succeeded or failed he would be better because of it. He also believed in a long-term vision, so even when the crash happened he prospered because shareholders bought into the future. We didn’t found Stylyze to become an overnight success; we founded Stylyze to revolutionize an industry for the long term and Bezos is just the person to show us how it is done.”
Our favorite team-building activity is: “Celebrating wins, like when we get off an exciting retail partner call and know that we nailed it. And inland surfing. It’s fun to surf and watch your teammates surf (or make a valiant attempt)!”
The biggest thing we look for when hiring is: “Integrity. People who are the best at what they do not because of what they say they do, but because of what they actually do. We also highly value purpose alignment. If someone believes they are on this earth, at this moment, to grow Stylyze with us by doing their absolute best work — that is a major win for everyone.”
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Never give up because your breakthrough is one step past your breakdown. Successful entrepreneurs take that next step 100 percent of the time. Believe in the inevitability of your success while also being detached enough from your idea that you can continually improve your approach through feedback from customers, users, and very wise counsel.”