In this day and age of higher expectation in offices, sourcing your furniture from Ikea no longer cuts the proverbial mustard. But the furniture industry is notoriously old fashioned, forcing buyers to leaf through hundreds of paper catalogues, most of which are outdated by the time you get around to ordering. The global design and furniture industry is worth $700 billion, and yet most of its processes for customers are stuck in a previous age. Wouldn’t it be better if someone digitised those manufacturer catalogues, and allowed you to order direct, cutting out the middle-men?
This is what eporta is. This London-based B2B interior marketplace startup, has now raised $8 million in a Series A funding round led by US investor Canvas Ventures. It also includes venture capitalists LocalGlobe, Oxford Capital Partners, Talis Capital, Samos Ventures, as well as angel investors Guy Hands, Ed Wray (co-founder, Betfair), Rohan Blacker (founder, sofa.com), Simon Kain (co-founder of Zoopla) and Will Cooper (founder, Achica.com).
Founded in 2015, eporta allows interior designers, architects, property developers, offices and other businesses to find and purchase furniture pieces directly from manufacturers around the world online. The Hilton Hotel Group, Accenture, Ted Baker, and Charlotte Tilbury are included amongst its clients.
Eporta lists over 1,000 sellers in 55 countries and over 10,000 buyers in 85 countries. The idea is that companies that purchase items on eporta can expect to save up to 50% off retail pricing. eporta’s revenue model enables suppliers to pay a low commission to utilise the platform. The service is free for buyers to sign up to, with best pricing guaranteed.
The startup was founded by Manchester-born and Oxford University-educated Aneeqa Khan who previously led strategy at property marketplace Zoopla and oversaw its £919 million IPO in June 2014. Her technical cofounder is Simon Shillaker, a friend from university.
Khan said: “Our manufacturer base is now the largest global database of manufacturers online for trade.” And she says small interior designers can use the service, as well as larger businesses. “If you are someone who has a project — it could be a commercial project or a residential project — if you’re using eporta you’re going to find the best pieces and you’re going to have more selection than you would do anywhere else in the world.”
Recent projects include a large office fit-out for Accenture (where they worked with Studio Jenny Jones interior design practise), the start-up make-up brand Charlotte Tilbury who worked with them to fit out their new space, and Ted Baker’s property development arm on a range of projects.