Interview: Jay Reno, Feather

Piers Brown By Piers Brown
Uploaded 04 March 2018

SAN talks to Jay Reno, CEO and founder of US furniture subscription company Feather

• What is your background?
"I'm an entrepreneur and always knew it. I started my first company buying and selling things on Ebay. It was an arbitrage play, but I didn't know what that word meant at the time. Since then I've founded three companies - the first failed, the second we sold and was a moderate success, and Feather is the latest. We're building a modern-day furniture company that makes furniture flexible and accessible for people and businesses.
 
• When did you have the lightbulb moment for Feather?
"I had a few 'aha' moments before I realised I was actually onto something. The first of which was when my mom asked if I wanted something for my birthday, and I politely declined, saying that I really have all I need and don't want to own more things."
 
"The second was when my fiancée and I moved into an apartment together. We had successfully gotten all of her furniture and then my furniture up the four-floor walkup, and had only one item left - a sofa we had just bought on Craigslist. Try as we might, the sofa didn't fit up the stairs. And we had to leave it outside in the snow while our new neighbours moved in all of their furniture successfully. Long story short, ownership of things - especially furniture - is a pain when you're moving frequently."
 
• Describe your product / service offering
"Feather is a flexible furniture subscription for homes and businesses. Anyone can pay monthly, and decide at the end of your plan whether you'd like to extend, swap, return or buy your furniture."
 
• Who's your target market?
"Any business who doesn't want to spend $5,000 to $10,000 to furnish a one-bedroom apartment. Also, any person that doesn't want to deal with the hassle of furniture ownership."
 
• There are lots of established corporate housing furniture suppliers, what makes you different?
"Great question. Our competitors offer old and outdated furniture. They also only offer one option - rental. Feather provides a fully flexible furniture subscription, where at the end of your lease you can decide whether to extend, swap, return or buy your furniture."
 
• Who's behind the company, and can you tell use more about the recent fundraising?
"We're a group of passionate entrepreneurs building the next generation of furniture companies. We've raised $3.5 million to date from the top investors in the world at Kleiner Perkins (early investors in Amazon, Uber, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, etc). We also spent time last summer going through the Y Combinator startup accelerator program."
 
• What are your plans for expansion?
"We have plans to be nationwide in a short timeframe. Stay tuned!"
 
• If you could have done things differently prior to launch what would they have been?
"I think the one thing we would have done differently would be to hire a head of marketing from day one. Being a consumer business, it's essential to have marketing talent at your core from the get-go."
 
• What challenges do you see for Feather and corporate housing furniture suppliers in the future?
"Scaling quickly to be available to all geos is important. Our customers are furnishing units all over the country, and it's our job to make sure we can be a helpful partner wherever they may be."
 
• What challenges do you see for corporate housing providers in the future?
"Ensuring they haven't grown too fast to where supply outgrows demand. That's a dangerous spot for any marketplace company to be - and one where we may see a number of corporate housing providers fold if they're not careful."
 
Serviced Apartment Summit Americas attendees will be able to meet Jay and see the Feather furniture concept first hand in NYC April 9 and 10. Feather will be providing the Summit stage set furniture.

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