There are those jobs that on paper look like a dream come true. Ultra smart co-workers, international teams that jet-set around the world, multimillion-dollar budgets, and a product with over 90 percent market share. Sounds too good to be true? It's not. This was the job Marty Collins had at Microsoft for almost nine years. In 2014, she walked away from that job because she had an unshakable feeling that something else was out there for her.
"I felt like I'd done the corporate thing. In a company the size of Microsoft it became increasingly difficult to have any measureable impact on marketing strategies and, ultimately, results. I wanted to feel like my contribution mattered. If I was going to leave my family for so many hours and days on end, it had to be for something I felt I could have impact on. I had no idea at the time I'd become a founder in my own company. I just knew my next thing was going to be wildly different from Microsoft."
Without a roadmap to what that next thing was, Collins began to talk to people in her network. During this time, she was introduced to her future co-founder and business partner Alison Andrews Reyes. Unlike Collins, Reyes had spent her entire career in startups; her last company, Vigilant, was acquired by Deloitte.
From the beginning, their partnership just worked. "We can easily stay in our lanes," explains Reyes. "My background is leadership, technology, and finance. I've run companies in the past and know what it takes to build a tech company from the ground up. What Marty brings is the BtoC marketing experience. She understands how to use storytelling and digital media to connect with consumers."
When Collins and Reyes met, they both shared a love for home design but felt the process was fractured. Both women took on large-scale home remodels, but were left frustrated and unsatisfied in the end. One summer night last June, they were sharing horror stories over some wine and Thai food when they had a breakthrough. What if they could combine their passion for home design with their tech expertise to create a company that changes the way consumers design and remodel their home?
Enter Dezignable, a new marketplace that connects clients with top-notch professional designers. Here's how it works. Clients that want to design a room in their house go to Dezignable.com and load up details about their project. Once they've done that the community of professional designers comes back with three custom concepts that match the preferred style, — be it mid-century modern, rustic or Hollywood glam. Clients pick the one they like the best and get to work with the winning designer on the final floor plan and shopping list. All the items in the design can be purchased directly from Dezignable.com.
Dezignable is building personal relationships with small, independent artistic brands, which will make their designs stand out. "We want people to come to Dezignable to not only get a custom design for their home, but also to discover something new, one-of-a-kind." Collins said. They plan to feature socially responsible products like ColorHouse, an all green paint company (which is their featured paint this month) and original items from artisans that will create a unique style for each design. " We love the connection and passion behind the Makers movement and we think our client will too. Doesn't everyone want a piece in their home that tells a story?"
Both of these founders juggle work with family. Collins left her young family behind in Seattle for the four-month commitment of a top NYC accelerator. As she struggled with the right words, it is clear that she did not make this decision lightly, and still harbors feelings of guilt and regret. "The first day of school was last week. I am sure it seems silly that it affected me, but I have always been there for the first day of school. I had to experience it through Instagram. You know, almost in the moment, almost in real time, but I'm 3,000 miles away. It stings...I'm sure that people look at me, point fingers and think I am a bad mother." But those people would be wrong.
By starting Dezignable, Collins and Reyes are setting their children up for success--and that is backed up by data. A study by HBS shows that girls with working moms are more likely to be employed and have supervisory roles than children of stay-at-home mom, and earn on average 23 percent more. Boys of working mothers tend to dedicate 7.5 hours more per week to child care and spend more hours doing chores. They tend to have more balanced, equitable marriages that last longer. "The trade off of family time for our business is tough but it's also just a moment in time. If we can make this work and build something to be proud of then it will all be worth it. There will definitely be more summer vacations," muses Reyes.