Founder Stories

Building a moodboard movement with Style Sourcebook

Style Sourcebook is entering the growing global home decor market to help designers, builders, and decorators find inspiration and execute their ideas
“As a solo founder, I hit a point where I couldn't progress any further without the right support. Skalata helped me build the foundations to really scale.”
Lisa Cousens
Founder & CEO
,
Style Sourcebook

If there’s one thing that translates extremely well from real life to online, it’s scrapbooking.

Far from those old 20th century magazine clipping methods, we now have infinite cloud space in which to whiteboard our perfect domestic realities. 

As people devote time and attention to at-home workspaces (or #battlestations), JOMO (joy of missing out) replaces FOMO, and younger generations swap hedonism for habitat-making, the global home decor market is set to grow to USD $805.75 billion by 2026. 

The problem is the sheer volume of both online and bricks-and-mortar retailers vying to furnish our spaces. 

We are galaxies away from the old home decor shopping format of visiting a single department store to compare curtains and carpets. We’re presented with thousands of options across hundreds of retailers, with no way of visually comparing. 

So we spend hours trawling IKEA only to get home and start scrolling through online stores, ordering from multiple retailers with a blind hope it’ll all match on the day. 

Style Sourcebook is trying to solve the problem with its drag-and-drop mood board platform and searchable database for all things interior. 

Here, homemakers, renovators, decorators, and designers can mix and match 70,000+ furniture and homeware products from different retailers to put their ideas on “paper” before they commit. 

Meet the founder 

Founder Lisa Cousens studied Commerce with a Marketing major, completed an additional Business degree, and then started her career in online product management. She worked up to varied senior roles at Fairfax, Nielsen, and Realestate.com.au. She’d always wanted to start her own business, but it wasn’t until she faced renovating a house from scratch that an idea sparked. 

Lisa built Style Sourcebook as a three-sided marketplace where users can ideate and share,  retailers can pay to list their products, and community driven industry people can inspire, influence, and feed back. 

Meet the problem

When Lisa brought Style Sourcebook to Skalata, she already had a functioning product search platform with over 100,000 products across 240 product categories.

She’d maximised her use of social media, establishing an impressive following.

The problem was the lack of resources to build and scale, as well as the need to install a new business model to avoid ending up like Pinterest (a successful platform, but one that meandered along without direction or monetisation for years).  

The long term vision was to build in product listings to increase revenue and user growth, create partner channel solutions, and to be the first stop for capturing purchase intent for any home product.

Style Sourcebook had an opportunity to leverage data to build retailer products and gain commission on transactions. It just needed investment to execute it.

Renovating operations

“Starting at Skalata, I was a solo founder. I had built the business up, getting some big customers on board, but I was doing everything myself across every department. I just needed to take it to that next level and start hiring people so that my bandwidth could be expanded.”

The first port of call was to equip Lisa with quality people. 

Hiring 

Skalata worked with Lisa to develop a hiring process that could be scaled across the organisation as it grew from pre-seed stage through Series A and beyond. 

Some of the Skalata funding went into recruiting a Marketing and Sales Coordinator and two Business Development Managers. Style Sourcebook was then able to attract two high profile executives to its advisory board, including the ex-COO of Fairfax digital and the CPO of Message Media.

Subscription model 

During Lisa’s time with Skalata, Style Sourcebook continued to develop its sales strategies to build on its impressive stable of subscription clients.  

New, high-profile clients include Reece Bathrooms, Dulux, Laminex, Choices Flooring, James Hardy, Lounge Lovers, and Oz Design Furniture.

Style Sourcebook grew subscription revenue by 127% - not including the potentially very lucrative affiliate revenue stream the team is growing alongside.

Product usage and community 

Style Sourcebook worked on its product roadmap and marketing strategy to drive users to the platform while encouraging engagement with the mood board product. 

This meant improving SEO, devising online marketing experiments, and building a searchable case study database and editorial section. This resulted in increased monthly visitors, returning visitors, page views, and average session duration. 

Moodboarding can be very personal, but it can also be social. That socials were a crucial acquisition channel was not overlooked - the company’s efforts during this time grew their Instagram community from 46,000 to nearly 55,000 (it’s now hit 67,000). 

Founder experience 

Lisa did not come to Skalata with a dearth of business experience. She managed sales teams across four countries at Nielsen, and managed product, design, and analytics teams at Realestate.com.au. She had an excellent foundation of product development skills and commercial skills.

But Skalata was able to provide several unique elements that accelerated Style Sourcebook’s success. 

Like all first-time founders, Lisa had little experience raising capital.  

“I had a lot of background in products and sales, but raising capital was something completely new for me. It was really useful going through the milestone planning and understanding the optimal time to raise capital. Getting educated around valuations and having pitch sessions with VCs was so valuable too, and being able to get feedback and introductions.”

A huge part of what we do at Skalata is the connections we’re able to make between founders, coaches, and advisors. Lisa says of her coach Vanessa: “She was just who I needed as she had such a strong VC background. It was a really good experience. She became one of the members on my advisory board.” 

Lisa also worked with Ryan, one of Skalata's Associates. “I formed a really close relationship with him. He offered valuable advice on things like setting up our employee share and  advisor agreements, and he’d give feedback on the pitch deck.”

Next chapter in the Sourcebook

Most recently, Style Sourcebook has enjoyed some key wins through competitions. After partnering with renovation reality show The Block to host a competition for the best bathroom creation, show contestants Sarah and George made an unprompted video recommendation for the tool on their Instagram channel.

Style Sourcebook’s recent round of seed funding has seen the business backed by a series of investors, including Melbourne-based VC Saniel Ventures, Common Sense Ventures and Scale Investors. Significant investment has also come from Ed Hooper of Angel Partners and Cardinia Ventures, and Rob Philpot of Gravel Road Ventures.

It plans to accelerate retailer/commercial partner onboarding, which will not only boost revenue, but provide end users with more and more choice in their designs. Style Sourcebook has an added intention for those commercial partners to whitelabel the tool for other own use on their own ecommerce platforms.

Now in a significant growth stage, the team is set for expansion, developing new features for the mood board tool while expanding the commercial team’s presence throughout Australia.

The Wild West that is the Australian housing market may have exciting implications for Style Sourcebook in the near future. Unable to upgrade, Aussies have been embracing the opportunity to stay put and style up. But if house prices continue to drop, we may see more moving vans, which means even more renovation opportunities. 

It seems like a win-win, especially considering the end of the pandemic hasn’t seemed to disrupt #housegoals over hedonism trend where younger generations are more willing to part with cash to upgrade their living room or create WFH space.

Inspired by Style Sourcebook's story?