How I Made It

The start-up taking on IKEA is hoping to make moving easier

Jenny Morrill helped start Move Loot because she was frustrated with how costly and wasteful it was to move from one home to another.

"Move Loot started because furniture moving is a pain," said Morrill, the company's chief marketing officer in addition to being a co-founder.

Sellers list furniture on Move Loot, and the company helps with the marketing and merchandising. Potential buyers are able to browse the marketplace, check out and have their pieces delivered.

"We want to be the fair arbiter between buyer and seller. We want to be the Kelley Blue Book for furniture," she said.

Move Loot also aspires to be a sustainable way of furnishing homes. The Environmental Protection Agency reported that 11.6 million tons of furniture ended up in the municipal waste stream in 2013.

Move Loot pitches in to reduce the landfill trips by helping to find second homes for used furniture. The company said it was able to move 605 tons of furniture in 2014, a drop in the bucket, but it's a start.

Despite the company's lofty aspirations, Move Loot is the David to Goliaths like IKEA and Target in the low-cost furniture market. To stay competitive, the San Francisco-based start-up offers itself as a better curated, more convenient alternative to services like Craigslist.

"There are a lot of established companies out there who dominate an industry, dominate a vertical and it is possible to compete with that if you have a niche," Morrill said.

"People are looking more and more for items that really bring them joy, that really mean something to them and are not just a cookie-cutter thing that everyone will have in their house."

Move Loot's vision is compelling. The company graduated from prestigious start-up accelerator Y Combinator and received $2.8 million in seed funding from investors including Google Ventures in 2014. It raised an additional $9 million last year to expand its services.

The Move Loot team, Bill Bobbitt, Jenny Morrill, Ryan Smith, Shruti Shah
Source: Move Loot
The Move Loot team, Bill Bobbitt, Jenny Morrill, Ryan Smith, Shruti Shah

"I think it was really good for ourselves not to take ourselves too seriously at the start, at the same time, to treat ourselves like a big company and to treat every decision like an important piece of this brand we were building," said the 27-year-old entrepreneur.

"It's like the saying: 'Fake it until you make it.' Pretend you are the business that you are building. Pretend you're already there and people will start treating you that way, and they'll start seeing you in the way that you see yourselves and what you can be," Morrill said.

It seems that Move Loot is starting to gain momentum as more people see its advantages. Last year, Move Loot said it had more than 200,000 users and 90,000 pieces listed on its site. In March, the company announced that it was expanding its services to cover the entire United States.

"It is scary, but it is something that is approachable to you when you think about it as one person at a time," she said.