Like Uber for interior design: This Philly startup is starring on 'Shark Tank' next week - Technical.ly Philly

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May 1, 2015 9:34 am

Like Uber for interior design: This Philly startup is starring on ‘Shark Tank’ next week

Founded by three recent George Washington University grads, ZOOM Interiors wants to make interior design accessible to millennials.

The Zoom Interiors' office in Graduate Hospital.

(Courtesy photo)

As they worked toward getting their design degrees at George Washington University in D.C., three women had a nagging feeling: They just weren’t excited to enter the interior design industry.

It was outdated. It wasn’t affordable (designers can charge anywhere from $100-$600/hour) and it lacked the instant gratification that millennials have become accustomed to.

So they built their own interior design firm, a startup that blends the accessibility of “fast fashion” (think Forever 21 and H&M) and the on-demand aspect of Uber. Meet ZOOM Interiors.

zoom interiors

Clockwise from top left: Lizzie Grover, Beatrice Fischel-Bock, Madeline Fraser.

Founded by Lizzie Grover, Madeline Fraser and Beatrice Fischel-Bock, all 24, ZOOM Interiors pairs users with interior designers who style their living space every step of the way. After users take a free online style survey and get a consultation, they pay for mood boards ($199) and a curated list of furniture and home goods, which you can order on your own or through them, plus commission. All the communication happens through an online dashboard, and soon, a mobile app.

They’ve had paying customers for the last two years, they told us in an interview at their Graduate Hospital office earlier this week. Now they’re raising money to scale the business, and their first big break might come on ABC’s “Shark Tank.”

The trio is slated to appear on the May 8 episode of the show. They could not disclose the outcome the episode, citing legal agreements with the show. (That’s the second Philly startup to star on “Shark Tank” this season.)

The team moved to Philadelphia last year, after they graduated, because they were ready for a change and New York and Los Angeles just weren’t affordable. Plus, Grover said, Philly’s not as “cutthroat” as New York.

They worked out of an apartment they repurposed as an office in Graduate Hospital before moving to a slightly bigger apartment nearby.

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The office is, as you might expect, styled impeccably.

A large, spherical paper chandelier hangs over a minimalist white table, on which a fancy-looking candle (it was a gift, they said) and a bouquet of roses sit. They even gave us water in a mini mason jar. Everything looks expensive, but it’s all IKEA and Target, they told us.

“We practice what we preach,” said Fischel-Bock, who said her whole apartment is IKEA. (That philosophy even carries over to their fashion sense, they said, opting for H&M and Forever 21 rather than expensive brands.)

They prize themselves on being affordable and accessible to millennials, even though some of their clients are older.

Their big vision is to become “the Martha Stewarts for the millennials, if you will,” Grover said. They already carry some items, which they drop ship to customers.

zoom interiors philadelphia

The ZOOM Interiors office. (Courtesy photo)

ZOOM has a staff of 25 freelance designers around the country, and their tech side is built by a U.K.-based developer from Ficode Technology Ltd. (Fischel-Bock’s parents live in the U.K. and that’s how ZOOM met the developer.) The startup has five full-time staffers, based out of their Philly HQ.

Competitors include New York City-based Homepolish, which is a little more traditional than ZOOM and charges by the hour, and the Los Angeles-based, venture-backed Laurel & Wolf.

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