Everything from kitchen remodels to home office installations seem to take longer and cost more than initially planned. Houzz thinks that’s due to a breakdown in communication, which is why it built its business around photos – more than nine million of them. “Images are the common language that both homeowners and professionals can understand,” says vice president of industry marketing at Houzz, Liza Hausman. Houzz has built its community around those pictures and reached a $2.3 billion valuation in a U.S. interior design market that was worth $12 billion in 2015.

Palo Alto-based Houzz, founded by Adi Tatarko and Alon Cohen, has more than 35 million monthly unique users, 90 percent of whom are homeowners. Not all of them are looking for inspiration. Some are there to help inspire and do the work. Over one million active home professionals in over 60 categories such as architects, interior designers, contractors, and more are using Houzz’s platform to reach homeowners.

Houzz Pro+ is a subscription service for home professionals designed to help architects, landscapers, designers, and contractors reach local homeowners. Design professionals sign up to be members of Houzz and set up online portfolios. 

Hausman says the company saw an opportunity when it realized people struggled with identifying and articulating a vision for their home. “Home professionals found it difficult to understand what their clients wanted – or didn’t want – and to explain their vision in a way that [clients] could instantly grasp.”

You can also buy some of the items you find on Houzz’s site directly through the Houzz Shop, which the company launched in 2014. It charges a 15 percent commission for any sale originated through its site. Houzz’s View in My Room feature, which lets you see what a product looks like in your home before buying, is driving sales, too. The company told TechCrunch that it currently features about five million products from over 10,000 merchants on its site. The company recently opened up its Commerce API for third-party developers to drive more sales through its marketplace. Through the API, merchants can submit products, process orders, and keep inventory up-to-date.

National advertising on the site, which gets more than 35 million unique viewers a month, is another source of revenue. More than 45 percent of new Houzz users come from outside the U.S. Since July 2014, it has launched localized platforms in 10 countries outside of the U.S. Brands are primarily featured through photo ads integrated with other content on Houzz and can be saved to Ideabooks that become shopping lists for home projects. Ads also play before videos at Houzz TV, which is where homeowners show off unique homes, renovations, and DIY projects.

Houzz started as a side project for Tatarko and Cohen in 2009, after they found themselves frustrated with their own remodel. What started as a photo gallery has become much more. “The only way to be successful globally is to have articles, home professionals, photos of incredible local projects, advice, and products that are unique to each local market,” Hausman says. 

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