Fernish landed a $30 million round led by RET Ventures with participation from Amazon Worldwide Consumer CEO Jeff Wilke, Intuit Founder Scott Cook and TechStars. There’s another connection between Amazon and Fernish: Lucas Dickey, one of the co-founders of the startup, spent four years at Amazon from 2007 to 2011 as a product manager for Amazon’s MP3 music service and cloud player.
While at Amazon Dickey said he met with Wilke on a weekly basis for about six months as he was getting ready to pitch the products he was working on to Jeff Bezos. Wilke was introduced to Fernish through Kristin Smith, who worked on the same team as Dickey at Amazon and is now COO of moving marketplace Dolly and an investor and advisor to Fernish.
Fernish will use the new funding to expand to more markets, make some new hires and land more customers. The company is geared toward young customers who want high-end furniture but need to swap it out often because they are on the move frequently as they start their careers.
Fernish customers pay a monthly fee that varies based on subscription length and which items they want. Customers can choose multiple pieces as part of a package created by an interior designer or opt for single items.
If customers want to buy the pieces, they have that option when the subscription term is done. Subscription payments count toward the sale price, or customers can swap the furniture out for other pieces once their contract runs out.
Fernish’s service went live in Los Angeles and expanded to Seattle late last year. One notable partner is The Riveter, the female-focused co-working company that recently expanded to Austin. Fernish outfits the co-working spaces with furniture and also uses the spaces as a showroom for its pieces.
Furniture rental is not exactly a new concept, but Fernish executives say they are creating a new category of customer behavior. Fernish stands out from traditional furniture rental companies, which tend to charge a big premium to renters, by offering items at retail price.
Fernish’s closest competitor is Feather, which went through Y Combinator. However, the founders have said they are taking an “Amazon-like approach” to its business, and focusing on what customers need rather than what competitors are doing.