The Three Questions: Feather

Welcome to the second installment of The Three Questions - learn more about what T3Q is all about here

What does Feather do?

From the company:

Feather is furniture rental redefined. It’s the easiest way to get modern, stylish furniture delivered and set up in less than a week. Members pay monthly, then decide to buyout their items or move to their next adventure stress-free. That’s furniture magic. Currently serving New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Orange County.

What do I, Dalton, like about Feather?

Feather is a company from the YC Summer 2017 batch. I interviewed and accepted Feather to Y Combinator on April 25. Feather is a bit less statistically common of a YC company in that the founder, Jay, was working by himself at the time of acceptance. In addition, Feathers traction at time of interview was minimal - he had a few customers using it but it was by no means a company that much past the idea phase. What sets Feather apart in my opinion was Jay’s vivid and precise definition of what exactly Feather was going to be.

Here is a screenshot from the Feather YC application:

What’s fascinating to me sitting here in 2020 is that Feather as the founder envisioned it in the 2017 application has turned into exactly what the founder said it would be. This kind of clarity of thought isn’t particularly common… there is usually quite a bit of idea drift (or even a radical change) in a company between what the application says and what the eventual Techcrunch article says, but not in this case.

The other thing that has impresses me about Feather is the degree to which taking a simple idea like this and turning it into a real business was hard in non-obvious ways. Specifically, dealing with logistics of furniture delivery and returns, dealing with the furniture supply chain, dealing with working capital requirements and capital providers are all a lot harder than throwing together a simple landing page. Feathers ability to manage and hide all of this complexity from the customer is what ultimately will dictate just how durable and defensible of a business this is… and so far, so good.

Why should people care about Feather?

I think this is a good startup idea; the sort of idea that is good enough to sound obvious when you hear it. This product resonates with people that have to deal with moving apartments every year or so and deal with the hassles of moving (and breaking) Ikea furniture could use something like this. There have been furniture rental companies in the past like Cort or Rent-A-Center, but there sure seems to be room for building something more modern.

The founder of Feather told me that furniture accounts for 7% of all landfill waste, and I’d like to think that durable furniture that can last several years is more likely to be the future vs the market moving more towards disposable furniture you throw away every time you move. Or maybe someone will develop edible furniture.

You can check out the Feather website here.