BiggerPockets Business Podcast

BiggerPockets Business Podcast 31: Leveraging Your Network to Launch and Grow Your Business with Gavin Steinberg

Expertise:
32 Articles Written

Do you have a business idea but are afraid that you don’t know enough about the industry to achieve success? Do you worry that you’ll hit a roadblock that will keep you from growing your business to its full potential? These are scary thoughts that plague many entrepreneurs, but there is a simple solution to overcoming these risks!  

Gavin Steinberg—real estate developer turned founder of the novel furniture subscription company The Everset—is here to tell you how he overcame these risks to his business. His solution is all about leveraging your network and finding other people who can help you navigate those areas of your business where you may not be the expert.

When Gavin decided to enter the world of furniture, he was like a fish out of water. It wasn’t an industry that he knew, but it was an industry that he wanted to be part of. Leveraging his relationships and relying on the help of others who did know the industry, Gavin was able to gain the expertise that he needed and lean on others to help his company grow and thrive. 

In this episode, he tells us how we should be constantly expanding our network and recruiting others to help us grow in areas where we don’t have the knowledge or experience to do it ourselves. 

Make sure you listen for Gavin’s words of wisdom about how unlikely it is that your first idea will drive your ultimate success and how you should embrace the changes your business will inevitably go through.

Check him out, and subscribe to the BiggerPockets Business Podcast so you won’t miss our next show!

Click here to listen on iTunes.

Listen to the Podcast Here

Read the Transcript Here

Jay: Gavin, welcome to the show.

Want more articles like this?

Create an account today to get BiggerPocket's best blog articles delivered to your inbox

Sign up for free

Gavin: Thanks. Thanks for having me.

Jay: We’re thrilled to have you here.

Carol: We are so looking forward to getting more information all about your new company, The Everset, and finding out all the great things that you’re doing. We’re going to dig way back into the back story, see how you got the idea for it, see how it’s evolved. But before we go there, let’s really set the stage for our listeners. So will you please tell us what The Everset is and the current state of your business?

Gavin: Yeah. So The Everset is a furniture subscription business. We offer designer curated furniture packages without the burden of ownership. So you can come to our website. You can pick a designer package that we’ve created, or you can pick from our a la carte menu. You can rent furniture from three to 14 months and 24 months. Then at the end of the subscription, you have the choice to either continue and renew. You can swap it out for something else as your life changes or your needs change. Or you can return it, and we’ll come and pick it up. All of the assembly, delivery and pickup is all done for free, and all of our mattresses are brand new and yours to keep. So that is who we are and what we do, and we’re excited to be out there and providing furniture.

Jay: Awesome. Well, we’re going to dig in to your back story, but I have a couple of quick follow-up questions. So is this a business that’s geared towards homeowners? If so, is it new homeowners, or do people keep their furniture for long periods of time? Are you focused on specific cities or certain demographic, geographic locations? Have you kind of gone wide scale?

Gavin: So, right now, we’re servicing the New York area, parts of New Jersey and Westchester, but we’re really focused on New York. The people that we’re servicing are really people in transition. Whether you’re moving for a new job, you are moving into a new apartment, whatever that transition might be in your life, we are there to help you get furniture. So it’s not as much homeowners. It is definitely more renters, however we have had people come to us. They’re like, oh, I just had a flood in my apartment, and my insurance company put me up in this apartment. I’m going to be here for 18 months while my place is getting fixed. I need furniture. So there are tons of reasons that people rent with us. That’s what we’re doing now.

Carol: Awesome. I love it. So, Gavin, what is the back story about The Everset? What were you doing before this, and how did that lead you to identify a need for this company?

Gavin: So prior to launching The Everset, my background is in the real estate industry. I was the CFO of a multifamily owner-operator here in New York. We managed about 2,500, 3,000 units. Of the 50 buildings that we managed, we probably owned about 20 of them. We also did some small ground-up development and condo conversions, and it was a great place to have a career and learn and grow, but I knew I always kind of wanted to do something, investing on my own and development on my own. So towards the end of my time there, I started looking for new opportunities. One of the opportunities I found was building single-family homes in Park City, Utah. So since 2015, I have been building homes in Utah. One of the things that I do is sell them fully furnished. So when you buy one of the houses I build, it’s fully furnished. You can move right in, and it’s ready to go.

Gavin: That kind of sparked a little bit of this idea. So people want to be able to have that convenience and not deal with furnishing it. Then looking back at my multifamily background and rentals in the New York area, applying that same idea to New York rentals made even more sense, because it’s short-term. People don’t know where they’re going to live in one to two to three years. Your furniture in one apartment doesn’t fit in the next apartment, and there’s a ton of costs associated with moving your furniture, storing your furniture, or if you have to sell your furniture at the end of your time with us … If you buy furniture, if you sell it at the end, you’re selling it for pennies. It just really didn’t make sense. The whole experience of buying and furnishing an apartment, we thought, was broken, and that there was a better way to do this, particularly for young people who might not have the capital or the ability to go out and spend 5 to 10 to $20,000, whatever the case might be to furnish your apartment. You can now have a really great looking apartment for a reasonable price and still have flexibility and convenience. That’s just how people are living more and more so these days. So we saw this hole in the market, and we launched The Everset to fill that need.

Jay: So when you started building in Park City, presumably, these are spec builds. Did you typically have families that came in and said, “We don’t have furniture, this is our first house, we want to buy this house fully furnished”? Or did you have people coming in saying, “This is great. Thank you, but take it out. We have our own stuff, we want to keep our own stuff”?

Gavin: So a lot of it is second homes. Some of them are primary, but some of them are second homes. So a lot of people were just like, “I live in another state. I don’t want to deal with buying furniture,” so it’s a little bit of a different market. But it’s at least where some of the idea came from. Then the other piece of the idea just came from my own experiences. Everyone’s experiences of furnishing an apartment can be a real struggle.

Gavin: I think that when you move into a new apartment, it’s often associated with these kinds of milestones in life where you’re moving into a new apartment because you got a new job or because you got a raise and you’re going to be able to afford a better place. Or you’re moving in with a boyfriend or girlfriend or getting married or you’re having a child, whatever the case may be in life, where you have this milestone. Then if you ask someone, what are you doing this weekend and they say moving, you’re not like, oh, that’s awesome. You’re often like, oh, sorry, that sucks. It should be this fun and exciting time in your life, and it’s clouded by the pain of furnishing an apartment, dealing with the furniture, getting it in. So it’s not quite the same thing as what I’m doing in Utah or doing in Utah, but it’s a similar kind of spark of the desire for flexibility and convenience.

Carol: Excellent. So when was it that you launched The Everset? When was this?

Gavin: So we officially launched in end of July of this year.

Carol: Oh, great, so you’re brand new. That is very, very cool.

Gavin: We’ve been working on it for a while, but, yeah, we started servicing the public with our website end of July.

Carol: Excellent. So was it just you who started the company, or did you have a partner? What did that organizational look like?

Gavin: So I’d been playing with this idea for a little bit, and I had it on my phone on my list of things that I’d been thinking about. I knew that, if I were to explore this anymore, I needed to learn more about the furniture industry. It was just something I didn’t know anything about. I had no background in furniture, and it seemed like, okay, let me start trying to get a little bit smart on the furniture industry. So I reached out to an old acquaintance who I hadn’t seen in probably 15 years, 10 years, a gentleman by the name of [Jonathon Matroti 00:08:51], who later became the cofounder of The Everset. I sent him a message on Facebook just being like, hey, I got this idea. We’d love to get your thoughts on it. I know we … catch up, haven’t seen you in a long time. Let me know if you’re free. I didn’t hear anything for probably a month or two, and I didn’t think much of it because that’s what happens, but he did respond eventually.

Gavin: We set it up, and one meeting led to two meetings. It led to four, and it just kind of continued from there. We partnered up, and John is the cofounder of The Everset. I feel really lucky that, A, I have a partner that I get along with really well. I think that that is super unique, and I feel very fortunate that we really do have great chemistry and can work well together. Then he knows the furniture industry in and out. So John takes care of the furniture side, a lot of the logistics, warehousing and those kind of operations. Then we have [Meagan Hop 00:09:52] who’s the creative director at The Everset. She is responsible for our creative team and the design of our packages and the aesthetics and the look of the furniture. So she heads that up, and then I do a lot of the little bit of everything and a lot of business development and growth and overseeing of it.

Jay: Got it, awesome. So take us through what the user experience is. So presumably somebody’s moving to New York City. They decide they need furniture either temporary or long-term. So somehow they find you. Do they go to your website? Do they walk into a showroom? What’s that user experience, basically, that first step for the user?

Gavin: I think one of the things that makes us unique is that we partner with the real estate community to offer our service as an amenity in their buildings. So with my real estate background, and then we have some advisors in our group that also come from the real estate industry, we partner with real estate developers, brokers, property owners so that, when you walk into a building, they can say, “We now have a furnished option. If you want a furnished apartment, we have that option for you. We work with The Everset, and here’s how it goes.” So that’s one option and one way that we reached consumers, is through our relationships in the real estate industry and our partnerships there. Then the other is just kind of a direct to consumer approach where people come to our website. They can place the order. Either way you’re going through the website to place the order, see the furniture, and make your selection there. But those are two ways that we’re reaching our consumer.

Jay: I love that. So you’re leveraging your network first and foremost and your previous industry experience. So let’s talk about the website. So first of all, how are you marketing to potential clients? How do people find you? What are they searching for on the internet? Or are you sending out physical mail? What’s the draw?

Gavin: So the thing with furniture subscription and when you’re moving into a new place, this is not an impulse buy. It’s not like you’re on Instagram and you’re flipping through and you see a pair of shoes you really love and you’re like, oh, those look cool. I’ll buy those. It doesn’t work that way with this. You have to be in that moment, thinking about moving. You’re moving within a month or two or maybe even a week, and you need furniture at that moment. So you’re very focused on that. From a consumer, that’s what you’re looking for. So it’s not quite the same thing as just throwing up some ads on Instagram and people might need it at that moment.

Gavin: A lot of people come to us just because of that reason. They’re looking for furniture, and they’ll go to Google. They’ll search for it, and they’ll find us through that because they have a specific need that they’re seeking out. Excuse me. Then the other thing that happens a lot is, when they walk into our apartment or properties, is they’re offered this service there. That’s also a moment in the process where they’re thinking about furniture. They’re thinking about moving. So those are kind of two of the marketing channels that we’ve seen a lot of success with in reaching customers.

Carol: I love that. That’s really cool. Speaking of marketing, I love the whole concept of this whole subscription service around furniture, right? It’s not called rent to own furniture. It’s a subscription service, so I suspect that was early on in the strategizing, early on in the developing of the company. Can you talk more about that whole thought process?

Gavin: Yeah. So I think our value prop kind of demanded that we go through and we think about it as a subscription, in that we provide flexibility, convenience, and no large upfront capital cost. I think the value prop determined what our business model might look like a little bit because those are the things we wanted to provide to our customers. It was like, okay, how do we do that? The subscription model really made the most sense for that because it provides the flexibility, the convenience, and an affordable monthly payment for however long you may need. You can continue that subscription, or you can end it whenever you want. So it was less about us saying, oh, we want to start a subscription business. Let’s think about what that might be. It was more here’s the problem that we have identified. How do we solve that problem? Then what is the best business model that will help us achieve that?

Jay: One of the first things I noticed when I looked at your website was I would have expected … Going to the website, knowing what the back story of your business was, I would have expected a very utilitarian website. So I go. I choose from these chairs or I choose from these tables. What I found is it’s very not that. It’s very design-centric, and it’s a very pretty website.

Carol: Very lifestyle focused. It’s got that whole lifestyle feel to it.

Jay: Yeah, very lifestyle-

Gavin: [crosstalk 00:14:43]

Jay: Was that a strategic decision, like we want to attract a certain type of subscription customer? What drove that non-utilitarian, more design-centric aspect of the site?

Gavin: Absolutely. I think, until now, furniture rental … And there’s companies that have been doing it for 30, 40, 50 years, where you can go and rent furniture. It has really been thought of as a short-term solution for a short-term problem. I’m moving to New York for a job for three months. I don’t want to go buy furniture. I don’t want to go the IKEA route. I’ll just take whatever I can get because I need somewhere to sit, and that was it. I don’t care what it looks like. I don’t really care what the price is. I have no other choice. The way we see our business and the future of the way people live with furniture is that you’ll be able to subscribe to furniture for 12 to 24 to 36 months, however long it might be. It’s no longer just this short-term solution for that short-term problem.

Gavin: Thinking about it in that way made us really conscious about what it was going to look like, because if you are going to be living with it 24 months, you want it to look really good. So we were extremely thoughtful about the furniture we selected, the materials that we are using, and what it looks like from the experience on our website to when it gets to your home. We really wanted furniture that you’d be proud to have in your home and would look really great.

Gavin: I think that’s one of the other things that our service provides, is if you’re moving into a rental apartment and you want to have a designer look, let’s say, oftentimes, you can’t justify going and hiring an interior designer if you’re going to be there for a year or two years. You might not feel like this makes any sense, or you don’t have the funds at that time to go and do that. How do you get a designer-looking apartment without going and getting a designer? Well, you can do that just by picking one of our packages that have been designed to fit a living room, where all the furniture goes well together. So we thought about what it’s going to look like in people’s homes and how do we make it really attractive, both from a price point, but also the way it looks, so that you can rent it for a long period of time and feel good about it.

Carol: Cool. So tell us more about … As we’re talking about you’re putting together these packages that were going to work well in people’s homes and so on, did you do any type of testing around that? Give us some more actionable stuff on how you went about making that happen?

Gavin: We ordered a ton of furniture. We had a warehouse full of furniture. Ninety percent of it did not make it into our catalog. We sat on every sofa, every chair, looked at every table. How is it assembled? What is it made of? Is it going to hold up? It had to hit on three things. One is the material and the durability of it, because it is going to be out there for a period of time and potentially going to someone else. It needed to be a material that would hold up and work for that. It needed to be the right price point so that we could offer it to our consumer at a reasonable price, and it needed to look good. So to hit all three of those boxes was a challenge, and so we ordered a ton of furniture. We went through it all, and we found pieces that we think hit all three of those. That’s how we kind of ended up where we are.

Jay: So where are you getting your furniture from? Are you sourcing it privately? Is this commercially available furniture? Do you work with specific manufacturers, or do you go right to retailers? What’s the process for getting your furniture?

Gavin: So we source it privately and work with specific vendors and manufacturers. John has a ton of experience in the furniture industry and a ton of relationships, so there’s a lot of different vendors we work with. We intentionally don’t offer any other brands. This was done for a reason. We didn’t want to just be a middle man where, if you want whatever the brand might be sofa, coming to our site, now we’re just a logistics company delivering you that sofa, basically. If you want whatever the brand might be, their sofa, and you don’t want to pay for it all at once, you can use a credit card, and that’s basically renting it. You can pay that off over time. Or there’s a lot of services out there where you can pay it over time.

Gavin: We didn’t want to be a middle man. We wanted to have our own brand and also position ourselves so that we could do other things as we grow, whether it’s have our own furniture line or whatever else it might be. The brand, who The Everset is, and the furniture we offer, we didn’t want to just be a middle man for other companies. Maybe we are talking with certain companies about partnerships, and there might be opportunities where we would do something, but we wanted to make sure that The Everset is the brand. You’re not coming just for that sofa, but you can still get great looking stuff.

Carol: I love it. I want to really make note of the fact that it seems like, throughout so much of this conversation, you keep coming back to one common theme, which is just leveraging your network and really tapping into those existing relationships. You’re talking about one of your business partners [inaudible 00:20:07]forever and ever and ever. But you realized that he would add some tremendous value. As you’re going about figuring out all of these different pieces of your network … I’m sorry, these different pieces of the business, you’re not going out there and inventing from scratch. You’re not just saying let’s just try and figure it out. You’re really digging deep and looking for people that you knew, either through your own self or through one or two connections that could really be a good resource, which I think is just a really good tip for our listeners, which is, no matter how small your circle might be, just keep digging. Can you talk a little bit more about that, just about the power of networks and building those relationships to grow your business?

Gavin: Yeah, absolutely. So exactly what you said is right. I started with my immediate circle, and the first person I talked a lot about this was my family, my wife and people in my family. I was talking about the idea just in general, and then kind of expanding from there. I would say, yeah, use your inner circle, and then take one circle out. Who’s your network there? You’ll be surprised, if you ask people, “Hey, who do you know in this industry?” how many people will be like, “Yeah, I’ll recommend 10 people and make introductions for you.”

Gavin: Then, I think, once you’ve exhausted that network, which, I think, for most people, would take a long time to do, there’s an opportunity to then go out and kind of expand that circle. So, for example, this morning, someone invited me to a business networking event at 7:00 a.m. I didn’t know anybody there, went, met new people. So I would always encourage go out. Meet new people. Talk as much as you can and try and expand your networks, because you never know where that next one is going to come from. I mean, Megan Hop who’s the creative director, we cold called her. There was a list of 10 names we liked, 10 looks we liked. We cold called her. We started off small. We did a few projects, and it grew into a good relationship and a good business partnership. You never know where it’s going to come from or how it’s going to materialize. Pick up the phone and make a call or send that email.

Jay: Awesome. So are your customers … You’re were in the investing field for a long time. You were a real estate investor. You did multifamily. You built spec houses. Are any of your customers are any of the market you’re going after … Are they investors? Or are you doing home staging or maybe short-term Airbnb, furnishing for Airbnb type rentals or that sort of thing? Or have you kind of moved away from that and you’re more focused on homeowners or home renters?

Gavin: I mean, we’re pretty focused on renters who need furniture. We do staging. There is a need for that, and we get a ton of calls for also people who are in the Airbnb corporate housing and they need a furniture solution. So there’s lots of kind of furniture needs out there, but we’re pretty focused on working with our partnerships in the real estate industry and our direct to consumers, making sure that they have a great experience and get the furniture that they need.

Jay: Awesome.

Carol: Excellent. I would love to know. How did you go about determining what your pricing structure would look like?

Gavin: So I think once we had determined that it was a subscription model, we did a couple of things. One, we looked at the market and the competition to see where is everyone else priced and does that make sense for us. Then it was looking at, okay, well, given our vendors and our relationships and where we’re able to buy furniture, what is the price point that we can deliver great-looking furniture but at a reasonable price? It was just kind of a balancing act like I talked about before of making sure the furniture hit on all of these things, durability, the look of it and the price. The price that we came to is where we are now. So it was really more just about the process of looking at the market and then working backwards and thinking about where could we buy and make sure it worked for our customers.

Carol: Excellent. So speaking of customers, who was that very first customer? How did you go about getting that person as a customer?

Gavin: So there’s the two customers groups that I’ve discussed, which is our relationships in the real estate industry. We look at them as a client or a customer. So the first thing we did there was start with our network, like we talked about, and people I knew, and testing it out in their buildings and seeing what the response would be like. So relying on our network to see what the process would look like and how it could work and what people wanted and didn’t want. We did a bunch of test runs with customers through those buildings as we were testing things out and figuring out what we wanted it to look like. So our first customers were through this pilot program that we did with our partners and friends in the real estate community.

Gavin: Then I think the first customer that we had, they wanted a ridiculously long sofa. We were like, yeah, that sofa doesn’t exist. You can’t get [crosstalk 00:26:34]. We’re like, okay, and it was three guys who were moving into a place. They were like, okay, we’ll take this one. We show up, and the hallway’s this big, and the door … It doesn’t fit through it. We had to saw the sofa in half and then bring it in and put it back together. Finally, they were like, this is great, and they had their sofa. But they had no idea what it took to get that sofa [crosstalk 00:26:56]

Carol: Oh, my gosh. So I want to hear more about … I think this is a really cool, actionable tip, and that’s why I really want to dig into this. So you have all these networks. You’re tapping into all these relationships. You’re ready to do this. But you talked about actually having a pilot program to kind of test it and work out the kinks. Can you talk more about how you developed that pilot, what that entailed? I think that’s fascinating?

Gavin: Yeah. So we had a long list of questions, both on the operational side and on the consumer side of what does the customer want and how do we best service them, and then, operationally, how is that going to work through a website, through ordering, through tracking, through deliveries? And all these questions from the internal and external side of the business, and put together this list of all the things we wanted to figure out, and then really just started trying to answer those questions one by one. So we leveraged our relationships to go out there and put furniture in a building and see what would happen and then try and answer questions based on that. We did some free deliveries just to let people see what it would look like and how it would work. I think just figuring out what the questions … First, start with the questions that we wanted to answer, and then kind of how do we answer that question? That’s the process we took to do that.

Carol: That’s really cool, because it kind of works in both ways, right? It’s enabling you and your team to figure out how you should go about doing all of these things that had not been solidified yet, right? It gives you some more insight into how to make that happen. Simultaneously, you’re starting to build a consumer base right off the bat. They’re benefiting from what you’re doing. So I think that’s just a really nice tip, is if you’re launching something new, to figure out a small micro way to get things going before you just blow out an entire launch and not necessarily have everything in place. I think that’s a really cool way to test that out.

Gavin: Absolutely. Sorry, go ahead.

Jay: No. I was just going to say the other benefit there is that, if things don’t go well, because you’re not charging full price and, basically, you’re treating the customers … If it’s a test customer, they’re not going to go online and give you bad reviews and complain, because they recognize that it is what it is. They’re the guinea pig.

Gavin: Absolutely. I mean, the chances that your initial idea and the way you thought it was going to work initially work out exactly like that are zero. Things are going to change. You’re going to realize I shouldn’t have done this. I needed to do that. We’re going to change this so that we deliver this way or the furniture comes like this. When it’s an unknown, particularly in a business that doesn’t have a lot of history behind it where you can’t be like, oh, this is how everyone in the industry does it, there’s so many questions and unknowns that you need to answer. Testing those out and figuring out what works and doesn’t work, I think, is crucial to starting a business like this.

Jay: That’s great. I love that. So what does your organization look like now? How many employees do you have? What are their roles? What’s your plan for growth?

Gavin: We’re small company [inaudible 00:30:03]early days, so we outsource a lot of our branding and marketing efforts. Then anything that’s kind of customer-facing, we want to try and own that piece of the process, so anything that is customer service, phone, email, communication with customers, delivery. When we’re in someone’s home, that’s a really personable, personal space, and we want to make sure that experience is really great. So we want to own that entire process. Then, after that, John oversees, like I said, all of the furniture, logistics, warehousing, and delivery side. Megan is creative director over that side. Then, as CEO, I’m overseeing and doing a lot of the business development and growth.

Jay: So I want to hear where you’re planning to go, but I have some tactical questions just thinking of it from a business perspective. So what happens when you get that phone call that, “Okay, thank you, we’re done with our subscription. We want to return the furniture,” and you get the furniture back and you realize there’s stains all over the cushions and the cat’s been chewing up the couches and that sort of thing? How do you deal with that? Is that something that’s baked into your business model?

Gavin: Yeah. I mean, for example, this morning, someone from our customer team … We had a delivery, and they called me up. They were like, “Yeah, the dog just jumped on the sofa five minutes into the delivery with mud all over themselves. What do we do?” It’s like, nothing, that’s what we do. It’s part of the process. Stuff is going to get dirty, and that’s just the way it goes. We’ve modeled in part of that loss factor. But the other thing we try to do is be really thoughtful about, like I said, the materials that we selected and the furniture we selected so that slip covers can come off. We can wash them and clean them, or if it’s a leg that needs to be replaced, or a material that we can paint or refinish. We really wanted to be thoughtful about all the furniture we selected so that we could put it back out into the field like new, and the next customer doesn’t feel like they’re getting something used, because that’s not a good feeling. That’s the process that we take with that.

Carol: I think that’s really cool, and I really like too how you are definitely saying that you are very mindful about anticipating the realistic problems that were going to come up as part of this business, and having measures in place, and, like you said, purchasing and offering the right types of furniture so that, when those problems arise, it’s really not a big deal. You’re ready to handle it, rather than just going for it and seeing what’s going to happen.

Gavin: For sure. We expect people to live on this furniture. It’s in your home. It’s going to get some wear and tear, and that’s what happens, and we’re okay with it.

Jay: So what do you do when the furniture comes back? Presumably, some of it can be reused and redeployed. There’s going to be other stuff that has, I guess, for lack of a better word, completely depreciated and needs to be gotten rid of. What do you do with that old furniture? Do you repurpose it? Do you give it away? Do you throw it away?

Gavin: So the stuff that is in good shape, we thoroughly clean and refurbish, and it can go back out into the field. Then the stuff that ended its useful life with us, we have a partnership with Habitat for Humanity.

Carol: Oh, good.

Gavin: So what we do is Habitat for Humanity has restores all across the country, and a restore is a place where they sell donated furniture to the community at a discount. So, excuse me, all of our furniture goes to the restore. It gets sold to the community at discounted furniture. So our furniture ends up in someone’s home versus a landfill, which is great. Then the proceeds from that sale actually go to building affordable housing. So it really goes full circle to making sure that our furniture stays out of landfills, but also helping actually build someone a home.

Jay: That’s awesome.

Carol: That’s great. So you have a mission focused baked right in to your overall business plan, which is huge.

Gavin: Yeah, absolutely. We didn’t want to have leftover furniture. You walk down the streets of New York, and you see piles of furniture on the corners, and it’s just kind of crazy. Being able to make sure that someone else could use it and have some furniture was a win for us.

Jay: That’s awesome. So what are your plans from here? So you’re going to take over and conquer New York City. Where do you go from there?

Gavin: Yeah. I mean, we’re really focused on New York right now. It’s the largest rental market in the country. There’s 2 million renters here. There’s a lot of market to focus on here. But we have plans to expand outside of New York also. This problem is not unique. This furniture problem is not unique to New York, so many cities across the country are facing the … Many people are facing the same issues.

Carol: Sure. I’m just curious too. In addition to the subscription service, is it an option, is it part of your business plan that people can purchase furniture as well? Is that an ancillary business? Is that part of the business? Or is that not something you’re offering yet or something you may offer in the future?

Gavin: If people come to us during their subscription or at the end and say, “Listen, I love my furniture, can I buy it?” we’ll work something out with them. It’s not something we’re really offering at this time, but we’re discussing it, and we might have some changes coming in the future.

Carol: Just curious to see if that was part. But, actually, I’m really liking that that is not necessarily the case. It shows that, truly, from day one, you really focused on really perfecting the subscription model and everything that goes into that business in and of itself, rather than expanding into way too many areas way too quickly. So I think that’s really thoughtful.

Gavin: Yeah. I mean, that’s the thought. Otherwise, also, it’s just basically a lease to own or a financing program, which there’s nothing wrong with that. We might explore that, but right now it is a subscription model where you can renew and keep going or return.

Jay: That’s awesome. So at some point very soon we’re going to jump into the last segment of the show, but I do want to ask. For our audience, a lot of people are entrepreneurs looking to get their start or looking to grow their business. Do you have any tips from your experience as an entrepreneur, both a real estate investor and now business owner? Do you have any tips for them for what they should be doing or what they could be doing to make their journey a little bit easier?

Gavin: Wow, yeah. So one thing I feel like I’ve been thinking about a lot as we’ve been going on this journey is the ability to say no. It’s really hard to say no sometimes, and I think there’s this desire to … Particularly when you’re trying to grow a young small business and make it bigger, is to say yes to everybody who asks you to do something. There’s all these opportunities that are hanging in front of you that you want to try and go and get. Being able to take a step back and say, what am I really focused on, what is the goal, and what’s the best way to achieve it, often takes saying no to some things. So that’s something we talk about in our team sometimes is are there projects that we’re working on or looking at that don’t make sense and don’t align with our core mission of what we’re trying to accomplish? Will they be a distraction, or will they help us succeed? If they’re not going to help us succeed, we really shouldn’t be doing them, because there’s only so much time in the day. If you’re spending your time on projects that are distracting you, you’re not going to be able to win. That takes saying no, and that’s something that we are trying to do also here.

Jay: Awesome.

Carol: Excellent.

Jay: Love that. Well, this is the point in the show where we want to jump into our final segment that we call the four more, where we ask you four rapid-fire questions that we ask all our guests. Then when we’re done with that, we’re going to give you the opportunity to tell us more about where our listeners can connect with you. Sound good?

Gavin: Yeah.

Jay: Excellent. So I’m going to take the first question. What was your first or your worst job? What did you learn from it that you’ve now used in your own business?

Gavin: First job was interning at Def Jam in high school.

Jay: Nice.

Gavin: Which was a lot of fun. I was in the music for years in a different life. I interned at Def Jam when I was a senior in high school, and, I guess, one of the things that I really learned there … And I remember the person I was working for saying … It’s like, “Don’t ask questions all the time.” That’s not to say that you shouldn’t be able to ask questions when you’re at a new job, but there’s something to trying to figure something out on your own before going and bothering people with it. So that would be something that I think I learned in the first is just give it a try. Try and figure it out. What can you do? You might not get it right, but you don’t have to ask every time right away how do I accomplish this or what do I do to make this happen? Come to the person after you’ve tried and say I tried this. It’s not working. What can I do?

Jay: Love that.

Carol: Excellent, thank you. My question for you, Gavin, is what was the defining moment when you realized that you totally had an entrepreneurial edge and you were going to do something on your own?

Gavin: So for people outside of New York, there’s a sporting goods store called Paragon here. It’s on 18th Street. I think it’s 18th and Broadway. When I was in, I want to say, eighth grade, seventh grade … I don’t exactly remember, but somewhere around seventh, eighth grade, there was a pair of basketball shorts that became really popular in New York called Olaf’s. You could get them uptown from one little store, and I decided to pitch Paragon on carrying these shorts. I was somehow going to either work out a deal with the owner of the store to manufacture them in bulk and get them to Paragon and sell them. So I set up a meeting with the buyer there. I remember my mom and I going into this meeting and her chaperoning this meeting with a seventh grader, and pitching him on you need to carry these shorts. You need to own these and sell these in your store. They didn’t do it with us, but every other company knocked these shorts off not long after that. So that was kind of like … I’ve always had things happening and going on and had that entrepreneurial edge even at a young age.

Carol: Awesome.

Jay: Excellent. So question number three is mine. If you could go back in time … And I know your business is only a few months old. But if you could go back a few months, what advice would you give yourself before starting this business so that you would do things better or differently?

Gavin: I’ll try and think of something else, but I think this comes back to just saying no. It’s been super important for us and for me not to say yes to everything. So I can try and think of something else, but saying no is really important so that you don’t get distracted.

Carol: Excellent, thank you. My fourth question is … It’s a fun one that I always like to get a little more of a taken on. What is something in your personal or your professional life that you’ve splurged on along the way that was totally worth it?

Gavin: Oh, I buy nothing. My wife complains that all of my clothes are falling apart and have holes in them, so I have very little that I spend on. I would guess the one thing that we do or I do want to splurge on is trips and experiences and vacations with my family. So I have two boys, love going away with the family and spending our time and money on that, versus other things. I think that [inaudible 00:42:31]also with our customers’ thoughts on how they look at things, which is like, yeah, I don’t need to buy $20,000 worth of furniture. I’d rather go use that money for something else. I could have a small monthly payment and rent my furniture and subscribe to my furniture for a period of time and do other things with my money.

Carol: Awesome.

Jay: That’s awesome. I love that. So let’s jump into the more question. Where can our audience find out more about you, connect with you, and find more about your business?

Gavin: You can find it all at TheEverset.com. You can email us at [email protected], and you can check us out on Instagram and Facebook at The Everset.

Jay: Fantastic.

Carol: Excellent.

Jay: Gavin, this was awesome. Thank you so much for sharing your story, sharing tips, and helping out our audience. We really appreciate it, and we look forward to checking back next year after you’ve had some more time in business to see where things are going and what new you’ve learned and what new you’re doing.

Gavin: My pleasure. Thanks so much for having me.

Carol: Thank you, Gavin.

Jay: Thanks so much.

Gavin: Thanks.

Watch the Podcast Here

In This Episode We Cover:

  • How Gavin created a novel furniture subscription company
  • Where they offer their service and to whom
  • How he found his partner
  • How he’s leveraging his network
  • Strategic partnership with real estate communities
  • Reaching out to customers by offering service as an amenity
  • 3 things furniture should have: quality, reasonable price, and looks
  • How they got their first customers
  • The ability to say no
  • And SO much more!

Links from the Show

Tweetable Topics:

  • “I always encourage anyone to go out, meet new people, and talk to as many as you can.” (Tweet This!)

Connect with Gavin

What does it take to start, scale, and sell your own business? Every Tuesday, J and Carol Scott ask this question to entrepreneurs of all stripes and delve into stories that go beyond the launch. From hiring and firing to marketing and raising capital, this podcast takes an honest look at the triumphs and stumbles of entrepreneurship. Whether you’re looking to sustain a startup or bring an idea to life, you’ll come away inspired. Tune in—and learn how to treat your business like a business.

    Andrew Syrios Residential Real Estate Investor from Kansas City, Missouri
    Replied 13 days ago
    Great interview!