Given the popularity of the multiple renovation reality shows on our TVs, the announcement from home renovation and design platform Houzz that its Australian site has more than doubled the size of its local community since its launch last year isn’t all that much of a surprise.
The Australian arm launched in August 2014 with an already sizeable local user base of home design lovers that had been using the global platform. It’s now attracting 1.4 million unique viewers a month, up from 700,000 at launch, with 24,000 home professionals across 60 trades registered on the site. Australia is one of five expansion markets for the startup, which has raised over $213 million to date from investors including Ashton Kutcher.
There are three main elements to the global Houzz platform: it lets users browse seven million home design photos and the accompanying articles, connects them to home professionals who can help them bring their visions to life, and also lets them buy related products from its curated online store. It’s also part social network, with forums for users to chat with each other.
Jason Chuck, the Houzz Australian country manager, said Australian users are among the most active on the platform, with 85 percent planning to redesign or redecorate their home in the next two years and 40 percent aiming for a major renovation.
With those rates in mind, it’s no wonder Houzz saw Australia as a prime expansion market. Now the Australian platform provides access to local professionals and editorial tailored to local tastes – as well as having opposite seasons to the US, the startup found Australian users favour different aesthetics and styles and have different aspirations for their home to American users.
The curated ecommerce platform is yet to launch in Australia, with Chuck explaining that the focus for the startup in its first year was about creating its content and community. The startup is currently focused on the national roll out of the new Houzz advertising platform, which allows home and design professionals to advertise directly to users in their area, after its beta testing in Melbourne and Sydney.
It’s through this advertising that Houzz Australia will be bringing in revenue rather than by the simple connecting users with professionals – Chuck is adamant that Houzz is not a lead generation site, and as such the professionals registered on the site don’t pay a fee to interact with users who may end up using their services.
“What we really want to do is democratise the industry in a lot of ways. In the past, you had these sites that try to generate leads, per se, but the problem with that is that they try to lump professionals into the same boat. It kind of sounds like an architect and architect, interior designer with interior designer,” Chuck said.
“What we really want for our homeowners to do is to really resonate with professionals and their work and choose them on the merit of how their work really connects with them and they’re after. So if the homeowner ends up selecting that professional to be their builder and architect, that’s completely free for them. They can leverage the platform.”
The platform acts as a portfolio of sorts by allowing professionals to easily display pictures of their past work. Houzz has also found that it’s become a useful collaboration tool for professionals and clients, a lot of whom don’t know how to define their style or communicate it effectively to a professional when they first join the site.
Chuck said, “What has Houzz allowed them to do is create an ideabook, collect the images that they like and communicate that and get on the same page a lot faster after with a professional.”
Image: Jason Chuck. Source: Provided.