We can order food in seconds, book an exercise class and swipe right on a date. So why should decorating our home be any harder? Well, because it is our home and it really matters to us how it looks and feels and functions, but Beatrice Fischel-Bock, the CEO and Co-Founder of the home decor app Hutch, has somehow managed to make decorating a room as easy as possible, while not sacrificing what the person wants the final product to be. The app takes a photo of your room and virtually redecorates it. Users can swipe through different design styles (modern, floral) and as you swipe the furniture changes to match the theme of the room. And then the user shop's Hutch's library of inventory (they partner with major furniture providers like Target, Nordstrom and Urban Outfitters.) Did we mention the 26 year old started this app when she was still in school and had already earned $1 million before she even graduated?
Fischel-Bock launched Hutch in 2012 during her final year at George Washington University after coming to the realization that interior design was an untapped resource in the technology sector. Soon she was virtually designing all of her friend's apartments.
Designing your own home can cause tremendous anxiety as some of the biggest furniture pieces come with very high price points compared to everything else you buy on a daily basis. In addition, it's a space that you are looking at and coming home today in and day out, so that can build up a lot of pressure and stress to design it just right. It's not necessarily about the latest trend but what works for you and your own style, which can sometimes be more difficult. Fischel-Bock says Hutch is really about helping be less stressed about decorating. It streamlines the decision making the process easier and aims to help anyone create a space that is a better version of what they could have imagined.
While most of her classmates were heading off to internships or their first jobs, Fischel-Bock made an appearance on Shark Tank. Tinder Founder Sean Rad was impressed and helped her raise $2.2 million in pre-seed funding. She then went on to raise $5 million of funding in a seed sound led by Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund. And then this past summer she closed a Series A funding round for $10M from real estate platform Zillow. We were lucky enough to talk the entrepreneur, who also made Forbes 30 Under 30 list this year, about her career, helping women and what Shark Tank is really like.
Did you always see yourself in a career like this growing up?
I’m pretty much obsessed with animals, so I thought I was going to be a vet until I saw my dog after surgery and realized there was blood involved. Once I got clarity on the fact that being a vet didn’t just mean meeting cute dogs and cats, I shifted my attention to my passion for design.
I didn’t know I was going to be an entrepreneur until my partners and I came up with our first business idea in college. We knew we were onto something but assumed someone else had already done it. As we dug deeper we realized no one had. This was a big learning moment in what entrepreneurship is. It’s realizing that there is still so much innovating to do and who's to say you’re not the person who should be doing the innovating?
What were you doing before Hutch?
Before Hutch, we were Homee — an interior design app with a similar mission but that offered a drastically different solution to the problem. In studying and learning about our strengths and weaknesses, I adopted a perspective I could have never been taught in school.
How does Hutch help professional millennial women?
It's fast and effective. As millennials, we expect solutions to life’s headaches to be solved with a tap. Technology allows us to simplify and streamline without lessening our choices. Swiping through options speaks to those needs.
What is the most challenging thing about running your own company?
It’s all challenging! That is probably what's hardest. Learning to deal with the constant ups and downs of running a startup. You have to try and keep an even keel through every challenge that comes your way. Get through it and get ready for the next one.
Starting our journey on Shark Tank was an amazing experience, and has led to so much of what makes us the company we are today- including my 2 other co-founders Ben and Ethan! We’ve definitely had highlights and overcome challenges since then. The challenge to find product market fit and create a truly simple and affordable interior design product pushed us to launched our latest product, Hutch! The response to our launch was overwhelming in the best way, and was a huge highlight for our team.
What does your typical work day look like?
I start my day with my dog. We go for a walk without my phone to take a moment to be present and peaceful before the craziness begins. I’ve learned that if I don’t keep myself centered, then I don’t do a good job at work. Once I get home I’m on email before meditating or going to a workout class.
I end my day reading the world news outside of my startup world. It’s a good way for me to transition out of my day and get informed about other things.
Can you talk about some of your experiences with raising money for the company? Is it harder as a female entrepreneur to pitch male VC's?
I was very intimidated the first time I met with a venture capitalist. I had heard endless horror stories about investor meetings. I’m not saying all VCs are great - I’ve definitely met a few unsavory ones. However, for the most part they are interested and interesting. I use every meeting as an opportunity to learn something from them. It’s not only about my pitch.
Where would you like to see the company in five years?
I would like Hutch to be ubiquitous with buying furniture. The mission of creating an improved, seamless and enjoyable process for purchasing furniture and decor will still be the same but I hope that the company will evolve and extend into categories we have not approached yet. I aim to collaborate with a range of creatives to help showcase this message and also hope to one day create a Hutch furniture line.