The home improvement website Houzz has received $35 million in capitalization to grow, providing a fresh venue of marketing for the pool and spa industry.
The site was launched in 2009 by Israeli couple Adi Tatarko and Alon Cohen when they couldn’t find the right architect and contractor to suit their needs. Designed specifically to match homeowners with architects, contractors and others in the home-improvement industry, Houzz serves 12 million users a month with a searchable database of 160,000 professionals in the United States and Canada.
Functioning as a mix between Pinterest and Yelp, the site enables users to create idea books of photos, participate in discussion groups and read articles.
“When people are building their idea books, whether it be a homeowner or a professional designer, and you’ve got your work showcased in their idea book, it can only help spread the word about your company,” said James Atlas, owner of Platinum Poolcare Aquatech, a Pool & Spa News Top Builder in Wheeling, Ill. “It’s just a great viral way to showcase your wares.”
Earlier this year, Houzz raised $35 million from a number of private equity firms, including New Enterprise Associates and GGV Capital. Individuals got in on the action as well, bringing the total infusion of new funding up to more than $48 million.
Houzz officials said they plan to double their 60-person staff in the next year to keep up with demand. They added that the company is on the road to profitability and, therefore, doesn’t expect to raise more capital.
To that end, the site also began offering a premium marketing tool that professionals can use to reach local homeowners. It was launched in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., but soon will be introduced in other areas. The site also offers its “Best of Houzz” awards for customer satisfaction and design — a designation that not only is posted on winners’ profiles on Houzz, but also can be used on their own websites.
The list of pool professionals using the site is growing by leaps and bounds, with more than 5,500 photos of pools and spas currently posted. Many consider this the ideal website because it is geared to a specific audience of homeowners looking for ideas and the professionals who can make them happen.
One designer, Nick Vitiello, likes the site’s emphasis on design. “The layout was great, and it was easy to set up an account with them,” said the design engineer at Lang Pools in Norwalk, Conn. “And it really directed a lot of people in our direction who were into the aesthetics of the swimming pool, as far as the landscaping and retaining walls and materials being used. It wasn’t just about a pool in your backyard — it was about a whole pool environment in your backyard.”
Vitiello estimates that 40 to 50 percent of his leads mention Houzz.
Builders report that some leads come from other professionals who’ve found them on Houzz, such as landscape architects, but that most are from homeowners. Some mentioned receiving calls from customers who hadn’t originally planned on getting a pool until they saw pictures on Houzz.
“That homeowner might be on the site for a completely different reason and stumble upon us,” Vitiello said. “We definitely have had leads where a home-owner will say, ‘I was on Houzz and I was looking for outdoor patio furniture’ or ‘I was looking to construct a fire pit and I saw some of your work, and it gave me the idea of maybe I want a spa. ...’ And it gets them thinking about a swimming pool.”