Scaling a marketplace is a huge challenge, but Houzz seems to have cracked the code in connecting customers who wish to remodel their homes with local professionals who can get the job done. Backstage at TechCrunch Disrupt SF, I spoke with Houzz CEO Adi Tatarko about how the company was able to get so big.
Houzz started as a pet project that Tatarko and her husband began as a way to help themselves and their friends to remodel their homes. But after word about the marketplace spread, Houzz was able to get designers and architects on board without too much work on their end. Soon, Tatarko was finding users and vendors signing up in markets around the country.
“It was interesting to see the way people learned about it through word of mouth, because many times professionals would tell their peers in other states,” Tatarko said. That includes new cities and different categories of professionals that weren’t available on the platform. Professionals would tell colleagues in other states, and they would also tell their clients about Houzz.
So when did Tatarko realize that her pet project was a real business? “When we realized it was crossing states and more and more people were joining and there was demand to open other categories,” Tatarko said. She found out that people in other states were finding and using the platform without any real promotion.
Tatarko said that to build a successful marketplace, you need to listen to your users, which includes both buyers and sellers. Houzz has been doing this by taking feedback from its users and implementing new features as they are requested.
“I think it’s very important to listen to both sides and create a product for your users,” Tatarko said. “You’re not creating it for investors, you’re not creating it to look nice on a powerpoint. You’re creating it for real people and you need to listen to them.”
Check out the full video above.