Eric Grosse is no stranger to the startup ecosystem. In fact, his rolodex of experiences rivals the caliber of most entrepreneur’s and his success stories speak for themselves. In the past, Grosse co-founded Hotwire, was the President of Expedia Worldwide, the CEO of TaskRabbit and Executive in Residence at Matrix Partners.
With this extensive list of phenomenal achievements, it’s no wonder his most recent venture, Chairish is already thriving. An online marketplace “Where Design Lovers Buy & Sell,” Chairish is the go-to destination for this type of e-commerce. Curious as to how the company has reached this level of success in such a short amount of time, TechDay spoke to Eric Grosse about the strategies he utilized to build the brand.
As you've founded numerous companies that have grown into household names, are there visibility strategies you've utilized that have worked across the board for every one?
I’ve been starting and scaling consumer marketplaces for over 15 years, an eternity by tech standards. I’ve seen firsthand how quickly tactical strategies to generate awareness come and go, but one enduring recipe for success is a great product supported by great PR.
How has growing Chairish proved different than fostering any of your past businesses?
Technology startups are scrappy by necessity, but I’m amazed at how much more productive and capital efficient today’s startups are compared to their forebearers. For example, we’ve funded Chairish’s entire operations on less than we paid for just our hardware and software stack at Hotwire back in 2000!
What are Chairish's primary marketing strategies? Are they more reminiscent of traditional methods or do you employ new wave tactics to garner users?
We have a multi-channel marketing strategy that includes PR, SEO, paid online and print media, email marketing, blogging, and social media campaigns. We test, optimize, analyze and then evaluate the results, so we can plan accordingly for the next phase. We’re very data driven, so we scrutinize performance and then rework both our strategy and tactics to map according to our findings. Online strategies can be fluid and move quickly, so you need to be able to adapt quickly.
Who is Chairish's target demographic and how do you go about directly engaging with them?
Our audience is predominantly female and is a mix of interior designers, serial decorators, and design lovers who flat out love finding one-of-a-kind vintage finds at a great price. We have a heavy US buying audience who reside in the top DMAs. Our audience loves our curated experience and how our search capabilities let them find what they’re looking for faster and easier. They really appreciate our responsive customer service team and our 2-day return policy.
Though Chairish exists on a digital platform, how important is face to face engagement with users?
We’re very proud of the positive Customer Service feedback we receive. Our Customer Service Associates represent the Chairish brand, so we’ve put a lot of thought into the “Chairish voice” and how it extends from our call center desk across all our customer touch points. Our customer service team also collects valuable feedback to pass along to our marketing, product, engineering and design teams.
What general advice could you offer early stage founders in terms of bringing visibility to their companies?
I’d encourage early stage entrepreneurs to focus on creating a truly differentiated customer experience and brand that larger competitors can’t easily replicate. Simple to say, but hard to do. True differentiation is a great way for young startups to stand apart from the crowd.
What new innovations can we expect from Chairish in the near future?
Look for us to leverage our technology platform to offer more services to the upper end of the home category. We’re also fascinated by the data we’re collecting on our user’s shopping and purchasing patterns. Going forward, we’ll put in place more tools to help our sellers source items that are more likely to be popular with our shoppers.
Eric Grosse is an experienced serial entrepreneur and Internet and e-commerce executive based in San Francisco, CA. He is the CEO and Co-Founder of Chairish, which he co-founded in 2013 with Anna Brockway, Gregg Brockway and Andy Denmark, as a trusted resource for design lovers to sell and buy vintage and pre-owned furniture and décor. Prior to Chairish, Eric was the co-founder of Hotwire, a leading online discount travel site. He also served as the President of Expedia Worldwide, the CEO of TaskRabbit and an Executive in Residence at Matrix Partners. Eric’s specialties include general management, strategy, financial and business operations, product development and marketing. He is a graduate of Harvard Business School and Williams College.