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Founder in Focus: Irish female entrepreneur secures £5M investment and female VCs backing for Skyscanner of furnishing


Aligning with the occasion of International women’s day 2023, UK-based home furniture discovery platform has closed a £3.4 million seed funding round, taking its total funding to over £5.2 million. The startup, which helps people easily find the perfect contents for their perfect home, was founded by Deirdre McGettrick, who was keen not just to be a female founder, but to also be female-funded.

Thirty per cent of the round came from female investors, including Caroline Warboys, Amanda Burton, Camelia Toby, Ciara McElligott, Jenn Engelhardt, Michele Connolly and Rosalyn Blair. The remarkably high percentage of female funding reflects McGettrick’s desire to increase female participation in the tech sector. She joined TFN to discuss past, present and future.

‘Skyscanner’ for furniture

McGettrick’s career background was in investment banking, which helped her when she was looking for investors. But it was her Irish childhood that provided her love for interior design. “My Dad sold curtains and blinds, so I used to be out with him to put them up, and it gave me a chance to look around everybody’s house, so I’ve always had interior design as a passion,” she said. When she moved to London and bought her home, she realised that she finally had her own project. But, she discovered, it was harder than she imagined.

McGettrick got the idea for when she was trying to furnish her own apartment. Although she could book things like holidays from portals like, her search for perfect furniture was frustrating, as she trawled multiple websites, accumulating links, screenshots, and an expanding spreadsheet of ideas. “I was individually searching retailer after retailer after retailer after retailer,” she recalls. “I couldn’t understand why there wasn’t a better way. Why wasn’t there an aggregator, like how I used Rightmove when I was actually looking to buy the home?”

Hence she created to act as that aggregator, just like Skyscanner. The platform offers a single site on which people can search, before making their purchase on the retailer’s own site. It means that shoppers can see all the brands they know, but can also find lesser known brands that might be precisely what they are looking for.

“We’ve got over 100 retailers signed up now,” McGettrick told us. The list is impressive, but also inclusive. “We’ve big brands like John Lewis, Dunelm, and Bensons for Beds, and amazing smaller brands like Eva,” she says. The range also covers every budget. “We have Tesco Home at one end and Soho Home at the other, and everybody in between.”

Operating in a market with no real competition over than a weekend trawling websites or prowling round home furnishing departments, has seen rapid growth. As well as the links with retailers, they have had over eight million website visits, and are even launching a partnership with Santander to help their mortgage customers furnish new homes.

Strong prospects for growth

McGettrick sees strong prospects for growth. “The furniture industry in the UK is worth about £30 billion a year,” she says. “And about 90% of people start their furniture search online.” But she also notes the importance women have to the market. “Of those searching, 85% are female.” And that drives her desire to see women making up more of the tech sector. Nearly a third of business founders are female, but the share of capital going to female-founded companies is less than 1%.

She recognises that there is still a long way to go. Even despite her best efforts, men are still the majority of her funders. “Thirty per cent of our investors are female. So men are still the lion’s share. But for a technology company to have 30% female investors is very unusual,” she told us.

Part of the problem, she believes, stems from some acknowledged gaps. “There’s the gender pay gap. But I also believe that you’ve a wealth pay gap because men tend to invest their wealth,” she told us. “So there’s a little bit of education around people that maybe have never invested in companies before. It’s been quite nice to be able to sort of bring people on that journey and educate them around some of the benefits that they can get.”

But, ultimately, she believes the benefits of diversity among investors are much the same as the benefits of diversity elsewhere. “I think we need to bring in more female investors so that you’ve got backers of more female-led products,” she says. “Fifty per cent of us are female, and there are so many more businesses out there that need funding and backing; if we will get more women investing, we get more of these businesses growing and will have more female founders out there.”

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