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Meet Chris Stanchak of Loveseat.com

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chris Stanchak.

Chris, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Loveseat.com began in 2013 when we (husband & wife duo, Chris & Jenny Stanchak) were moving across the country and wanted to start a company together. Jenny has a background in software engineering and previously was the 7th employee at Venmo. I have a background in e-commerce and previously founded TicketLeap. Together we had this idea to build a used furniture mobile marketplace connecting buyers & sellers (like a better Craigslist for furniture).

We spent almost a year building the mobile app (which is not how you should start a business), and unfortunately, the launch was a complete dud. Although we were able to attract a bunch of users, we weren’t able to generate sales. The reason we were failing is because it’s really hard to control the listing quality & price point of the furniture without having control of the inventory. This and other issues were holding back our users from buying.

Since we had no sales and were burning up our personal savings quickly, we needed to make a change pronto. In January 2015, we pivoted the business and started buying & selling furniture out of a 4 car garage in a back alley in San Diego. It was an instant success and sales started pouring in. These were fun and crazy times. Here were two Wharton grads driving around a shady van, moving furniture and carrying big wads of cash.

The thing that kept us going was the customers’ reactions. They simply loved what we were doing. We heard every week “This is going to be big”. Both of our parents thought we were nuts, but the customers told us otherwise. One of the key differentiators that made us special was the combination of technology and in-person customer service. It created an unmatched online / offline shopping experience and we knew we were on to something.

The rest is history. Loveseat.com has blossomed into a couple dozen employees with warehouses in Los Angeles & San Diego. We now sell thousands of pieces of furniture every month. We plan on getting much larger in these markets before expanding to other cities.

Has it been a smooth road?
It’s been a super bumpy road from day one and it continues to be bumpy. Our business has grown 20x in just 2 years and it’s been plenty messy. There are tons of challenges every day, but one of the newest in our careers is real estate.

Real estate is critical to our business because furniture takes up a TON of space. The bigger we get, the more space we need. To make matters worse, we have almost no experience or track record as a company or as individuals. “Commercial real estate” as it’s called is a super slow and old-fashioned business. If you want to look at a warehouse, it’s a big-to-do with a team of brokers in suits, etc. If you show up wearing flip flops, you are going to get stern looks – as we did early in the business.

We’ve hacked our way through this and like a hermit crab looking for a bigger shell, we’ve upgraded our warehouses three times in San Diego and twice in Los Angeles. Every time we move, it’s a huge headache…like moving houses 100 times in a few days. That said, outgrowing space is a luxury problem, so we’re laughing, not complaining.

Ultimately, we try not to get freaked out about challenges and new things. We have a simple mental model that guides us through all our decisions. 1) Will this make the business money? 2) Will this delight customers?

If the answer isn’t yes to both, we don’t do it.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Loveseat.com – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Loveseat.com is the best and easiest way to find vintage furniture for your home. We’re bringing a dusty, tired industry into the modern day by taking a huge curated inventory of vintage furniture and combining it with the latest technology. This end result is a convenient and fun shopping experience that puts the customer first.

Our model is based on volume, not markup. This means we have the best prices you’ll find anywhere and we sell thousands of pieces of furniture every month. Everything we have is posted daily to our website with vivid, accurate photography, so you can see what you are purchasing before you see it in person.

Our items sell quickly, so if you see something you want, buy it before anyone else does! We have a full money back guarantee if you don’t like the piece of furniture when you see it in person, so there is no risk to buying in advance.

We’re creating a whole new category of retail that is a hybrid of online & offline businesses. As far as we know, we’re the first to try something like this. Our customers can shop our website or in our warehouse…or a combination of both. The inventory is synced real-time between the two…in fact, you can even see what shelf every item is on right from our website. All orders have the option of affordable white glove delivery to the customer’s room of choice.

Loveseat.com is a big part of the sustainability / reusability movement. All our inventory is sourced within a few miles of where it’s sold, so not only do our customers get an amazing deal on quality items, but they are helping the world in the process.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
Los Angeles is an amazing and vibrant place. Our favorite thing about it the city is the energy. The city has something for every taste and personality. You don’t see a lot of folks just hanging out doing nothing. Everyone is creating something.

It seems no matter who we talk to, they have a fun project they are working on whether it’s a book, a film, pro skating, a YouTube channel, art, a startup, etc. It’s a swarm of activity. We’ve both spent considerable time in NYC and there are some similarities, but LA is on a new level.

Without a doubt, the worst thing about LA is the traffic. San Diego can be rough sometime, but LA is a different animal. We love the beach and surfing. San Diego has that going for it. Getting from DTLA to Venice is a nightmare. That puts the ocean and the waves so close, yet so far away. Let’s hope that Elon Musk’s ‘Boring Company’ (look it up if you haven’t seen it) becomes a reality.

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