When Adi Tatarko attempted to remodel her house in 2009, she found the home improvement industry–with its offline and fragmented business model–badly in need of renovation. “We ended up with plans in front of us that we didn’t like and couldn’t afford,” says Tatarko, who later that year co-founded Houzz with her husband as a platform where millions of renovation professionals and homeowners can connect. On a recent Human Factor episode, Tatarko spoke with Mansueto Ventures CEO Eric Schurenberg about what she’s learned while building a business from the ground up.
Feedback is key
Once you’ve identified a problem, how do you build a company that solves it? Ask for help, of course. “We started building the tools based on demand from the community,” says Tatarko, who assembled a group of homeowners and professionals in the early stages of her business. As Houzz grew organically, the company began to open the platform to more users, launching a mobile app in 2010, and beginning a global expansion in 2014.
From the Houzz community’s feedback, Tatarko learned that remodeling professionals wanted to be connected with customers, and that they also wanted an end-to-end platform for business management. On the other end, homeowners wanted more accessibility to options and inspiration–and they wanted to be able to conveniently plan their projects from their couches. That’s why Houzz provides features like an online marketplace and 3-D modeling.
Tatarko has also worked hard internally to build Houzz into a resilient company, and says that hiring a diverse group of the right people–people who are hardworking, driven, and hands-on–has helped her business thrive: “It’s like a house. When you build a strong foundation from the beginning you can’t build it from one material. You have to bring lots of different materials, in the right time and places, and then you’re not going to have cracks in the walls that you need to fix a few years later.”