Furniture remains a hot space for venture capital right now. The UK designer furniture startup Swoon Editions, which offers one deal a day to members who effectively pre-order artisan items before they’ve left the workshop floor, has raised a £4 million Series A led by Octopus Investments. Notably, Index Ventures also participated, while both VCs were previous backers when the company raised a £1.2 million seed round in early 2013 — a round that Index actually led.
Swoon Editions‘ closest competitor is probably Made.com, the designer furniture startup backed by PROfounders Capital and Level Equity. The two startups let customers purchase boutique designer furniture direct from producers, and in turn claim to eliminate the need to carry any stock, while passing on significant savings to customers. They do this by effectively taking pre-orders on items offered, before they are unnecessarily put into production.
Made.com says it does this on a 7 day rolling basis for the furniture items it lists on its site, whereas Swoon Editions operates a daily email to members (called “Insiders”), more akin to a daily deal site combined with the preordering aspect of crowdfunding.
Here’s how Debbie Williamson, co-founder, explains Swoon’s model: “Swoon Editions previews a limited edition design every day to a growing community of Insiders who have signed up for their daily launch email. Insiders provide us with real time sales feedback on a particular design before it goes into full production. We spend lots of time identifying the best manufacturers and have built an operation that creates prototype products to test demand very quickly, scaling production on only the most popular pieces.”
Or, put another way, by creating a demand-based feedback loop, Swoon Editions shortens the supply chain.