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Years ago, married couple Adi Tatarko and Alon Cohen were faced with a challenge that most homeowners would find familiar. Where to get ideas to remodel their 1950s ranch home in Palo Alto, and how to find the right people to do it?
It was a frustrating process, but the end result was not only a modern home filled with warm colours, but the birth of Houzz.
Houzz, a combination of the words 'house' and 'buzz', started as a side project for the couple in 2009. It is a website and online community about interior design and home improvement - a place to browse and save beautiful home photos, as well as find the right design and construction professionals.
Its first users were 20 parents from the school which their kids attended and a few architects and designers from the Bay Area.
Houzz became a company in 2010, and is now available in 15 countries, including the UK, Australia, Germany, Japan, Singapore and India. It has over 40 million monthly unique users and over 1.5 million active home professionals all over the world, who connect through its websites and mobile apps.
Why is Houzz so successful? It is largely due to the global community that we have built, which has changed the profession, and resulted in a lot of collaborations.
For the design professionals, the site lets them connect with users from all around the world. I hear of interior designers and architects who are able to conduct their work outside of their own countries or even continent.
For the homeowners, not only do they get to see what's popular in their country, but going through the website, they can see what's trendy in other parts of the world. When it comes to renovating, the sky's the limit. People want to get ideas from other homeowners or designers around the world, and Houzz makes it happen for them. It is also how we decide which countries to expand to. For example, we saw many users searching for Asian designs or products, and knew we had to expand to Asia.
Ultimately, Houzz is a tech company. And we have the ability to use technology to take traditional processes online. For example, it used to be that you would rely on word of mouth to find a professional, but that didn't necessarily result in you finding the right person. But with Houzz, we give people an easy overview of everything and everyone, which then narrows their search for the right person.
What else can we expect from Houzz besides getting inspiration and finding the right professionals? Two years ago, we launched Marketplace in the US, which allows users to buy products directly from the Houzz site. We have 20,000 merchants, with over 8 million products. We will be rolling that out to our overseas platforms soon.
It used to be that when you saw a product you liked in a magazine, it could be tough finding out where to get it, and how to get it into your home.
At Marketplace, with a click of a mouse, you can go from seeing an item to identifying it, and taking that product and placing it in your home. Our technology lets you place a 3D image of the product in your virtual home to see how the piece would fit.
How does it feel, knowing you've revolutionised home design? I love talking to small business owners, hearing how Houzz's technology helps them grow their business, and gives them exposure to new customers. It is fulfilling, being able to touch people's lives, seeing how Houzz has improved the quality of life for users, by letting them create a place that is uniquely theirs. I like hearing stories from homeowners who were afraid of renovating their homes, but with Houzz, they find it fun.
You lead a very busy life at work. How do you juggle career and being mum to your three boys? I actually think that this juggling makes me better at both. Prioritising, knowing what is important at work and at home, helps me focus better. For example, making sure that my kids eat well, and that I have dinner with them is important. But does it matter who does the cooking? No. What's more important is that I'm home for dinner with them.
Three years ago, when I had to travel to meet the country managers, I didn't want to leave my baby. So what did I do? I took my baby along. I feel that if I want something, I will find a way to make it work. Sometimes it can be tricky, but it is about focus and priority. You see what's really important and let go of what's not.
What is it like working with your husband? Alon is always saying it is easier to work with me than to renovate a home with me. He's probably right.
We have been together for 22 years. We trust each other completely. We know each other's strengths and weaknesses, so we divide the tasks and responsibilities based on that. We are in this together. I wouldn't be part of this crazy journey with anyone else.