Online retailers promoting high-end interior design at affordable prices abound. But Perch, which launched on Thursday, claims to offer something different.
Created by former Google employee Lucy Lyle, Perch is an online retailer aimed at the growing army of workers displaced from offices whom she says want to beautify their workspaces so they can feel inspired, but who don’t want to spend endless hours—or dollars–sifting through possibilities.
While the competitive landscape includes Laurel & Wolf, the online home furnishings site, and more directly Poppin, which sells modern office gear with a corporate flair, Lyle says no one has effectively addressed the need for style in the workplace.
“The idea is to provide products that create a workspace you look forward to sitting down in,” Lyle says, adding she’s personally curated 120 products that cover all of the bases for workers. They run the gamut from a box of triangle-shaped paper clips for $7.50, to Perch’s mid-century modern inspired mahogany Harrison Desk for $1,250.
Lyle says the desk alone would retail for $10,000 in a brick and mortar store; she’s just managed to cut out numerous layers of middlemen, including distributors and importers.
“We started to see that the furniture industry was the last retail vertical that the Internet had yet to disrupt,” Lyle says.
In short order, Lyle has drawn together an impressive group of e-commerce luminaries, by working her personal network, and by making cold calls, she says. They include Hayley Barna, co-founder of Birchbox; Neil Parikh, founder and chief operating officer of Casper; and Andrew Kortina and Iqram Magdon-Ismail, the co-founders of Venmo.
Collectively, they’ve invested a $1.1 million seed round in the company.
Lyle is “a force of nature” says Parikh, who knows her from their student years at Brown University. “The magic sauce for entrepreneurs is someone who is super-inspiring and has a very strong vision and aesthetic and can recruit people to work with them them.”
And Lyle says she has a big runway ahead of her, by tapping both the potential market in home furnishings and office supplies, collectively worth $170 billion. In addition to freelance workers, she plans to benefit from the growing trend of companies giving their employees a decorating budget for their workspaces, as well as straight up business-to-business sales.
“Our goal for the first year is to establish ourselves as the go-to workspace brand,” Lyle says.