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Furniture startups skip the showroom and go straight to your door

Holden Page Contributor Share on Twitter Holden Page is an editor and journalist at Crunchbase News . Startups making delivery and transport easier than ever are a hit with venture capitalists, so it’s not a surprise that young tech companies delivering home staples — living room sets, dining room tables, couches and more — are raising big dollars. From 2010 through 2017, venture investors have  outfitted  U.S.-based furniture startups with a little over $1.1 billion in funding across 96 known rounds. But that funding has not been spread equally over time, as the following chart shows: Total dollars funneled into U.S.-based furniture startups, according to Crunchbase, hit an all-time high of $432.7 million across 12 rounds in 2011.  Wayfair , an e-commerce site dedicated to selling furniture, raised a significant $165 million  Series A  that year, accounting for more than a third of the total deal volume. But while funding hasn’t surpassed 2011 levels, from that year through 2015, round counts steadily climbed. During this period, investments into seed and early-stage startups made up more than 70 percent of known deals. Whether or not this cohort of seed and early-stage startups will act as fodder for late-stage investors is not yet clear. Before that happens, Stephen Kuhl thinks that there’s more work to be done. Kuhl, the CEO of  Burrow , a company that sells furniture over the internet, told Crunchbase News that “selling traditional furniture made in China or Mexico isn’t innovative, and as such we wouldn’t expect to see a lot of venture funding.” But that doesn’t mean that venture interest in the sector is doomed. Kuhl added that “a new company has to offer a unique product, experience and brand that is altogether 10 times better than traditional offerings. Expect the money to follow the new brands that truly shake up the status quo.” That may bear out. The funding data we examined tells one particular story: venture money has shown a preference for delivery and a consumer that doesn’t easily call the place they live in “home.” Deliver, don’t move, furniture For city dwellers, modular, utilitarian couches are taking hold. And it’s increasingly clear you don’t have to leave your couch to purchase one.

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Wayfair’s Android app now lets you shop for furniture using augmented reality

AR-enabled shopping is expanding again today. This time, online furniture retailer Wayfair is introducing an augmented reality feature in its mobile app for Android that will allow customers to visualize furniture in their own home ahead of purchase, just by holding up their smartphone. The feature, called “View in Room 3D,” was previously available on iOS, leveraging Apple’s AR platform ARKit. Now, Wayfair is taking advantage of Google’s ARCore to offer the same option to Android users. ARCore, Google’s answer to Apple’s AR platform, was publicly released last month, giving developers a way to integrate AR technology into their Android applications, where they can reach a potential audience of over 100 million Android devices. Wayfair is not the only shopping site to quickly roll out ARCore support now that it’s available – eBay yesterday launched a feature for sellers that helps them find the right shipping box using AR technology, and promised other AR-enabled features this year. IKEA also just released an Android version of its AR app IKEA Place this week . Other retailers have been experimenting with AR, as well, including Amazon and Target . Retailers’ interest in AR is not just because it’s new and trendy – it can help them address the real issue that online shoppers face, when trying to buy furniture from a website, instead of in person. It’s often difficult for non-designers to really get a sense of what a piece of furniture will look like when placed in the room. Will the new sofa go well with the existing curtains, carpet, and other furniture? Will it fit in the space? Wayfair’s app helps with those questions, as it projects the furniture or décor in 3D at full-scale, and anchors them to the floor. This lets shoppers see if the object in question fits in the room – without needing to break out their measuring tape

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When venture capital becomes vanity capital

 I’ve written a lot about the benefits of efficient entrepreneurship. I’ve explained my view conceptually, tried to illustrate the mechanics of how excess capital kills promising companies, and shared data from 71 IPOs that demonstrates that even in success, more capital raised is not correlated with better outcomes. Just in case all of that was too conceptual, this blog post is… Read More

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