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February 02, 2016
Modsy Makes Aspirational Design a Reality
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Norwest’s investment in Modsy, a leading personalized home design solution, started before the company was even formed.

Nearly two years ago, Norwest vice president Jared Hyatt was looking to decorate his new apartment, but had no idea where to begin. He hired two different interior designers to tackle the space, but between the hidden fees, the faux discounts—most of which wound up in the designers’ pockets—and their inability to deliver his vision, he found the process opaque and frustrating.

Next, he tried a few online services, but all they delivered were “dream boards” and sketches of disparate objects squeezed onto a postcard-sized image of what was supposed to be his apartment.

With one of these inspiration schemas in hand, he headed to the Alameda Flea Market, where he found a table that was the right style and color. But when he got it into his space, it was too big, and he had to ask the delivery guys to return it—for another fee.

The entire process felt archaic, and he realized technology should be part of the solution.

Swiping for dollars

Jared’s experience is something that almost every renter or homeowner goes through, but it also fits into a broader trend that we at Norwest have been tracking for a while: “apps as a solution.” In particular, we have been interested in apps that millennials are using to solve problems and make confident decisions with a swipe of a finger.

Millennials are used to high-value apps that provide rapid access to things like food delivery (Caviar), parking (ZIRX) and transportation (Uber). Modsy is the next incarnation of that “app as solution” trend in the world of home design. Only this time, Modsy is extending the value of the solution with deep IP around computer vision, 3D capture, and photorealistic 3D rendering tools.

Mapping our personal space

Norwest managing partner Jeff Crowe met Shanna Tellerman, Modsy’s co-founder and CEO, when she was still at Google Ventures. He knew she had already founded a 3D-based startup which was acquired by Autodesk in 2010, so when she told him she was starting an interior design solution that enabled users to actually visualize their own spaces to make decisions, he knew she had the credibility to pull it off.

Modsy’s simple and easy to use platform allows consumers to experience inspired design ideas based on their taste preferences, all set within the context of their very own home. In a few steps, users are prompted to capture photos of their existing rooms, share their taste preferences, and submit. Modsy then returns beautiful images of their space completely redesigned, in 3D, along with clickable images of specific furniture that the user can click-to-purchase.

In short, Modsy gives users the ability to visualize individual pieces within their own space, giving them the confidence they need to make purchasing decisions, and to avoid Jared’s frustrating flea market debacle.

In Modsy, we see the same impulse that leads millennials to solve problems, like getting from Point A to Point B, or getting groceries delivered, realized for the home design space, backed up by sophisticated technology.

Additionally, furniture manufacturers are now seeking new and innovative sales avenues. They’re also increasingly replacing glamorous photo shoots with 3D computer models of their products. It’s an industry trend that makes Modsy even more relevant. (In fact, senior executives from the retail industry, including Restoration Hardware, are investing, too.)

For these reasons and more, we’re excited to partner with Modsy. Now, maybe Jared will find a table that fits in his apartment.

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