Houzz, the fast-growing website and mobile app for all things home remodeling and design, today announced that it has opened offices in London, Berlin and Sydney. This marks the company’s first official international expansion, but as its co-founder and CEO Adi Tatarko told me earlier this week, 35 percent of Houzz’s traffic already comes from outside of the U.S.
The company has hired local managers to run these offices. In addition, it has hired Oliver Jung to oversee its international efforts. Jung previously launched and led Airbnb’s international expansion.
As Tatarko stressed when I talked to her, the company plans to tackle its international expansion in the same way it grew its business in the U.S. This means it will focus on growing its community and internationalizing its content when necessary. It won’t, however, focus on marketing. Tatarko believes that this will automatically follow as the community grows.
“Sales are never our first priority,” Tatarko told me. “We are first and foremost a community and technology company. That’s how we built Houzz in the U.S. and that’s how we plan to grow internationally, too.”
Even today, without any specific marketing or local representation, Houzz is already seeing international home-remodeling pros, architects and others connect with its users all around the world. Because of this, Houzz already has 85,000 professionals from outside the U.S. in its directory. Just like Houzz managed to be a disruptor in the U.S. remodeling business, it also hopes to be able to disrupt some of the international markets where most of this business is still done the traditional way and basic word of mouth marketing is still the main way for many of these professionals to connect with potential customers.
This international expansion will also be good for Houzz’s U.S. users, Tatarko believes. It will give them access to more ideas and trends and expose everybody to different ways of doing things.
As part of this announcement, Houzz also released its latest user numbers. The service now sees 16 million unique users from 184 countries every month. Professionals have now uploaded over 2.5 million images to the site, including 1 million retina-quality images that were uploaded over the course of 2013. Its app was downloaded over 6 million times last year, for a total of 12 million downloads.
The company itself has grown to 170 employees now, but as Tatarko stressed, the management structure still remains very flat. There is no middle management, and the founders still interview every prospective employee themselves. While the new international offices will have local managers, the idea is to replicate the same kind of structure in these outposts, too.