- OCCO is a furnishing startup that brings innovation to the interior design industry
- The company raised €750k for its AI-powered platform that helps interior design professionals digitise their processes
- Oliver Ahlberg, the founder of Skeleton Technologies, joined OCCO as an advisor.
Even though we live in a digital world, many industries still work in an archaic, manual way. Interior design is no different – specialists use printed catalogues, send out pdf offers, and exchange a countless number of emails to discuss product information. From the start, OCCO, the design tech startup headquartered in Tallinn and Amsterdam, aimed to innovate this process. And with over 1000 projects completed for big companies like Bolt, Pipedrive, Nasdaq, Sorainen, Thermory, Tallink, Confido in mere six years, we can safely say that they succeeded in achieving their goal.
Collaborative work on the revolutionary design tool
OCCO started in 2016 as a project sales company. From the beginning, this endeavour was based on a close collaboration with various stakeholders. The company’s co-founders, Ander Sõõrumaa and Paul Veetousme ‘worked closely with architects, real estate developers, and B2B customers and experienced all the industry shortcomings and time-consuming manual work first hand when creating projects, knowing that there must be a better way.’ They started to look into creating a digital solution to simplify their work.
The advice, feedback, and suggestion provided by 150+ interior designers from all over Europe led to creating the OCCO platform – the tool to digitise the interior design industry.
The OCCO team continuously builds a customer-centric, AI-powered platform that changes the way the design professionals source furniture while giving the professionals direct access to manufacturers and their trade pricing, product 3D, and technical files.
As explained by Ander Sõõrumaa: ‘Our AI uses deep learning, which is state of the art for analysing product images and descriptions. We have custom trained our computer vision algorithms on a large dataset of interior products and use natural language processing to make product descriptions searchable.’
What makes OCCO stand out
The company’s offer is in many ways advantageous to its B2B customers:
- It Is claimed to be is the best in the world for finding interior products as well as for discovering alternative products in a few moments;
- 99% of searches done on the platform give results in under 1 second;
- The platform has proven to save on average 27% of working time for the professionals (nearly a week every month!);
- It provides direct access to 800+ high-quality European design brands;
- OCCO offers all necessary information for our users in a single online environment. And it is entirely objective data – the company does not determine which brand appears as a result of a search. The brands present on the platform are selected based on the users’ feedback.
Clients mention that thanks to the offer, the workflow has become faster. According to Hillar Mänd, it’s very convenient for designers that the OCCO platform allows you to view information from different manufacturers in one place. Casper Schwarz from Casper Schwarts Architects first became familiar with OCCO already in the testing phase and praised the easiness and discovery of many brands unknown to the Dutch market before. According to him, the fact that the platform shows the availability of the furniture and gives insight into the costs makes the offer unique.
Notably, the team listens to its customers. As Hillar Mänd told us, last year he was asked for feedback for OCCO digital and suggested adding product prices or price levels to the platform, which made information available, and the decision-making process much more manageable. At the same time, Casper Schwartz advised expanding the brands and creating more significant similarities in the photos per item.
Why is the startup focusing on B2B projects? For individual consumers, buying furniture is relatively easy. However, it gets much more complicated if hotels or restaurants are interested in buying 100 sofas, tables, and twice as many chairs. So the company aims to help those professionals who work on interior design projects that can last even up to 3 years.
The industry responded positively – over 250 interior design professionals use OCCO’s platform in their daily work, and the number keeps growing fast.
€750,000 raised – ambitious plans ahead
Paradoxically, the outburst of COVID-19 helped speed up the sector’s digitisation process.
Sõõrumaa mentioned that ‘when the pandemic restricted travel and the trade fairs were canceled, the designers and manufacturers were forced to tap into the value of digital tools and were more willing to move online. They see the huge value and potential for the platform.’
Recently, the design tech startup OCCO has raised a €750,000 seed investment round – a minimum amount of funds needed to take them to the next level, build a strong IT team, and validate the product on new European markets. Oliver Ahlberg, the founder of Skeleton Technologies, joined the company as the advisor following the round.
So far, the platform has gained popularity mainly in Estonia and the Netherlands. Still, the ambition is to establish a solid user base in 10 countries in Europe within the next two years (with Germany, Poland, and Ireland being the next target countries on the list) and gain 2000 active users by the end of 2022. OCCO team is now preparing for the series A funding round, which will support further scaling. Only last year, their team doubled to 58 people and will be growing still. The only minor concern for our interviewee is to find the necessary talent to support the company’s growth.
Agata writes content for NGOs, private and public sector. She enjoys writing about new technologies and is fascinated by all things AI!