One Kings Lane launched as a flash-sale site for furniture in 2009. Now the company, co-founded by Susan Feldman and Alison Pincus, has evolved into an online marketplace selling everything to do with the home. Not all choices have worked, but the founders’ decision to fail fast has kept the company, valued at more than $900 million in 2014, on its upward ascent.
–As told to Liz Welch
Success is about being able to stay focused on the core vision and iterate on a timely basis. That’s hard when you start to have double- and triple-digit growth and think, “If we can do this, why can’t we do that?”
Hunters Alley, our peer-to-peer marketplace, was conceptually a great idea. It was really complementary to the One Kings Lane brand. But six months after launching Hunters Alley, Alison and I stepped back and saw how long it was going to take to get it to profitability. We made a really hard choice and decided to shut it down and put all that energy into One Kings Lane to take that to the next level. It was really fast.
Around the same time, we realized that having three offices was hard. We had 200 people in San Francisco, 200 in New York City, and 25 in L.A., so there was a “don’t forget about L.A.” thing happening. It became challenging logistically–and internally, there were these silos, “vintage” versus “branded,” as opposed to “how are we looking at this holistically?”
So we made another really hard decision: to close the L.A. office. We also consolidated our vintage and brand furniture teams in New York. Now, as we’re thinking about trends, we can look at both markets–vintage and new–and leverage all the interesting things that happen in both. In the end, the move has allowed us to tell a much better story on our site. It’s a better experience for our customer, which is the whole point.