The Silicon Valley full-service used furniture marketplace called Move Loot has gotten plenty of validation in its first year of life.
The co-founders, two of whom graduated from UNC Chapel Hill, were accepted into the prestigious Y Combinator accelerator last winter. They raised $2.8 million in funding from Google Ventures, First Round Capital and Index Ventures upon a June 2014 Demo Day. And they quickly became an option of choice for people moving out of San Francisco to get rid of their old stuff. And for people moving into the city to quickly acquire new stuff. Sales are growing 40 percent month-over-month since an October 2013 launch.
But startups are constantly in validation mode in their early days. So the team has already begun its next big test this fall, opening its second Move Loot operation in the Research Triangle. It launched a region-wide advertising campaign last week.
Why here? Because if it can work in Raleigh-Durham, then it can work in any other secondary market around the nation, says local GM Mike Althoff. The Triangle also is the fastest growing of those with more than a million residents, and the founders have roots here.
So far, $40,000 in furniture has been collected—about 600 items. Check out the website, and you can browse an interesting collection of desks, nightstands, dressers, artwork, chairs, bookshelves, beds and tables including my personal favorite, the Steel Sawhorse Table.
There are definitely some idiosyncrasies in this region, Althoff says. There are many more large housing developments than in San Francisco, offering a unique opportunity for partnership and density. And many more submissions are coming from the downsizing community, versus young professionals. A key challenge here is getting people comfortable with making furniture purchases on the Internet—the biggest competition comes from large discount chains like Target or Ikea, which offer trendy items at very cheap prices.
His team is still determining how to best take advantage of the early trends. But one lesson he’s implementing weekly at Move Loot comes from the founders’ Y Combinator experience—to set and hit bigger goals every week while still maintaining the same quality of service. Althoff doesn’t expect that to be too hard in coming weeks and months.
“I haven’t met someone yet who hasn’t had furniture to get rid of or is in the market for furniture,” he says. “Our hope is that we’re meeting a real need in the area, and growth will come from that organically.”