Originally posted on the Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners blog.
Pop quiz: can you name four countries that Houzz launched in this year? How about the remodeling giant’s unofficial mascot?**
We were thrilled to have Houzz host the 81st Girl Geek Dinner at its Palo Alto headquarters. On Wednesday January 14th, over 100 women in tech and beyond connected over fine fare, drinks, and nuggets of wisdom from Houzz’s dynamic co-founders.
The “How” of Houzz
For homeowners and professionals, Houzz simplifies the renovation experience—and infuses it with sheer delight. With over 25 million unique viewers a month, 200,000 5-star average reviews, 600,000 active professional users, and 197 countries represented, Houzz delivers a streamlined, habit-forming solution to home improvement.
Throughout its expansion, Houzz has maintained its user-oriented philosophy and lean structure. Business partners and married couple Adi Tatarko and Alon Cohen conjured the experience for us in vivid detail: that first year of bootstrapping, finding an all-star team, and how Houzz reconciles its founding values with its whirlwind growth.
Building a User-Oriented Product
True facilitators, Adi and Alon envisioned Houzz as the solution to their own home renovation woes. In 2009, the couple bought a home, launching upon what they thought would be an exciting adventure in design. Instead, they endured years of headaches, blunders, and unsatisfactory floor plans. Thus, Houzz was born, and soon consumed Adi and Alon’s evenings and weekends.
The duo introduced their fledging product to their friends and local community, gathering feedback along the way. By calling on early Houzz users to share their renovation experiences, Adi and Alon gained further insight into the challenges that designers, architects, and homeowners face.
Houzz continues to rely on user feedback to drive growth. The company performs testing regularly, releasing modifications to a select set of users and analyzing the resulting data. “We try to follow what’s best for our users,” says Alon. “That way, we create a product that people are excited to use.
Fostering A Robust Company Culture
At Houzz, culture is vital: but it’s not all catered lunches, birthday parties, and getaways. “We do those things too,” says Adi. “But culture is more than perks. It’s what you do all day.”
In addition to the user experience, the employee experience is paramount at Houzz. Leadership puts its resources into building a supportive environment: nurturing the right talent, and empowering employees to discover their skills. A diverse group (with a 50/50 gender split, almost unprecedented in Silicon Valley), Houzz employees enjoy a voice within their community.
To inspire employee engagement, Adi and Alon prioritize leanness: “There’s not a lot of management or red tape at Houzz. We don’t tell people what to do… we let them do it themselves,” says Alon. By hiring entrepreneurial individuals driven to build great products, Adi and Alon sustain their founding principles: hard work, integrity, and innovation.
At the end of the day, Adi and Alon put users’ remodeling problems first. When it comes to building a successful company, Adi suggests this: “Create something your users need and love. Once you deliver, you can focus on the [monetization techniques] that will positively impact both users and advertisers.”
We tend to agree. Thanks for hosting us, Houzz!
**UK, Australia, France, Germany, and rubber ducks.