Crowdsourced interior design startup launches in Lebanon

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Smartphones could soon help people decorate their homes and save money at the same time.

Simply fill out a short online questionnaire, upload a few photos and interior designers will respond with proposals within a few days.

Click the graphic for a higher resolution image of how the process works. (Images via MoodFit)

The service is courtesy MooodFit, a Lebanon-based crowdsourcing platform for interior design.
The startup is the brainchild of Ghassan Abi Fadel, Tarek El Jaroudi, and Mohamad Sabouneh, three entrepreneurs who met in an AUB MBA entrepreneurship course.

“We come from different backgrounds,” Sabouneh said. “And we wanted to do a startup that could benefit from our experience.”
MoodFit’s operations engineer, Abi Fadel, is a mechanical engineer with an architecture background.
El Jaroudi, an architect, takes care of everything design related.
And Sabouneh is a mechanical engineer as well, with project management experience in the Gulf. He is currently an associate with Middle East Venture Partners.
They launched the website about two months ago, and to date have five projects in various stages of completion, two of which are nearing completion. They hope to complete 10 to 15 projects by the end of the year.
But they’re not the first. Italian startup CoContest lets designers compete for projects. Decorist’s crowdsourced design service is available in the US. And ZoomInteriors offers floor plans for as little as $39.
Still, MoodFit is MENA’s first design startup to leverage crowdsourcing, the same concept that disrupted other creative industries, and is transforming transport and logistics.
And there is no reason to think that others won’t jump on the idea.
MoodFit’s clients can decorate a room for as little as $300, a tenth of the cost the average interior design job. Making the concept even sweeter, clients get a 10 to 30 percent discount on the furniture they buy as part of the process.
First mover advantages aside, the founders are going through the usual challenges of getting a startup off the ground.
They’re bootstrapping, and all three have day jobs.

They received $15,000 when they won AUB’s Darwazah Student Innovation Contest in June. They received another $15,000 through the Kafalat iSME program, and $3,000 through the IDEAL Business Competition.

MoodFit team
The MoodFit team (L-R): Ghassan Abi Fadel, Mohamad Sabouneh, Tarek El Jaroudi.


They outsourced the development of their website, but hope to bring further development in-house.

“Building the website was the first issue,” Sabouneh said. “We’re looking for a technical website lead who can take care of this platform from A to Z.”

And because the concept was new to furniture sellers, building partnerships with suppliers was another issue at first, one that they are overcoming. More than 10 suppliers including Mobilitop, Sleep Comfort, and Skaff have agreed to provide their products to MoodFit’s clients, and over a dozen interior designers are actively bidding on projects.

“Suppliers [now] see the benefit of putting stuff online with us,” Sabouneh said. It’s a new sales channel with no effort [for them].”

Next steps

What’s next for Sabouneh and his cofounders?

“The first immediate thing is to acquire more customers,” he said. “We’re getting two to three leads per day we can convert to customers.”

They’re working to increase online traffic through SEO, social media and partnerships with suppliers and banks.

After establishing a core team here in Lebanon and fine tuning their partnership model with suppliers and designers they hope to expand into the GCC region, specifically the KSA and UAE.

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