ZOOM Interiors, a virtual interior design service that’s affordable, entered the Shark Tank on May 8th. Heavy interviewed one of the three founders, Beatrice Fischel-Bock. Here is what she told us about the progressive- and already successful- company.
1. The 3 Founders Met in Design School
Fischel-Bock, Madeline Fraser and Elizabeth Grover all met as students during their first interior design course at George Washington University. “We became friends instantly and worked together for the next three years of design school learning each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” Fischel-Bock said.
The company was born after friends started asking them to design their first apartments upon graduation. However, at the time they were all studying abroad, but quickly realized they were still able to assist their friends, who were all on budgets.
“It dawned on us that this is clearly an undeserved part of the market,” Fischel-Bock explained. “The design industry had just been shaken by the recession and people were very conscious about affordability. We decided to try our new formula with paying customers.”
2. It’s ‘Created By Millennials, For Millennials’
“We like to say that ZOOM is a brand created by millennials, for millennials. We knew when we started that millennials spend their money on experiences rather than products and they like to help co-create the products that they do buy,” Fischel-Bock said.
The company prides itself in growing along with their customer base. They have many clients who they helped with their first apartment out of college, and were still with them as they got married and bought their first home.
Their first client, Gracey, they refer to as their “guinea pig,” since it was through her project that they realized their company had potential. Gracey also benefited as her love for ZOOM enabled her to bond with her boss who later became her husband!
Fischel-Bock recounted the sweet story:
Gracey was so ecstatic about her new space that she blabbed to all of her co-workers about the design. Her boss decided to Get ZOOMed and they bonded over their mutual love of the brand. They recently got engaged and have already enlisted ZOOM to design their first home together!
3. They’re About to Reach the Half-a-Million Mark in Revenue
ZOOM has taken on projects for all sorts of spaces, both residential and commercial, and work with clients in over 40 states. Ninety-eight percent of ZOOM’s business comes through referrals, so the women have not had to pay for advertising. The little advertising they do comes from social media.
The fledgling company has enjoyed tremendous success already. They grew a staggering 350% in their first year of business and are almost at a half-a-million in revenue. As for the future, they have are looking to create an app that will make their service even easier for clients to use.
4. It’s a Philly Startup
After starting their business in Washington DC, where they were in school, they moved to Philly after graduation. Fischel-Bock refers to the city as “the best kept secret on the East coast.” “It has the highest rate of millennials moving in to the city and just has such an authentic feel. The startup community is very close knit and supportive and continues to grow,” she said.
Running a startup comes with its positives and negatives. One major positive, she said, is the fact that they get to do something about which they all feel extremely passionate. “A con to running a startup is that you live and breathe your business. It’s very hard to turn off that part of you,” she said.
5. ‘Shark Tank’ Was Like a ‘Crash Course MBA’
Fischel-Bock feels that they were fortunate to apply to Season 6 early and thinks the fact that they were ahead of 36,000 future applicants helped their chances. She values their time on the reality show and getting advice from ” five extraordinary businessmen and women.”
As far as what they’ve learned from the experience, she said:
It was like a crash course MBA for us interior designers. We learned so much about our company in the running up to pitching and then learned invaluable information from the sharks themselves when we were in the Tank.