Using Backyards as Showrooms, Online Furniture Retailer Outer Raises $4.3 Million

Rachel Uranga

Rachel Uranga is dot.LA's Managing Editor, News. She is a former Mexico-based market correspondent at Reuters and has worked for several Southern California news outlets, including the Los Angeles Business Journal and the Los Angeles Daily News. She has covered everything from IPOs to immigration. Uranga is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism and California State University Northridge. A Los Angeles native, she lives with her husband, son and their felines.

Using Backyards as Showrooms, Online Furniture Retailer Outer Raises $4.3 Million

Outer, the direct-to-consumer outdoor furniture brand that uses backyards as showrooms, raised $4.3 million in a seed round led by Mucker Capital. The two-year-old Santa Monica based company has seen business boom during the pandemic as retail stores shut down and online orders surged. Suburbanites looking for a stay-cation plucked up their eco-friendly sectionals as consumers spent more time at home.

"We went from tens of thousands of dollars in monthly revenue to millions of dollars in monthly revenue," said co-founder Jiake Liu. "In April we hit profitability."


The closure of retail has given the company an opening and the rise of Airbnb has made consumers more comfortable going into strangers' homes.

Outer has tapped into the shared economy with a network of 120 showrooms in customers' backyards. The company pays its partners $50 a visit and says it has a waiting list of 6,000 applicants.

"We are catering to this new consumer who is so used to online shopping, but that doesn't take away the fact that people still need to touch see and feel a lot of products and specifically around furniture," he said. "People just want to sit in a sofa before investing $1,000."

The pandemic has brought in new opportunities.

Outer's low-slung sectionals range from $2,000 to $8,000, and are supposed to appeal to Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn shoppers. Liu and co-founder Terry Lin, a former designer at Pottery Barn describe the design as timeless.



The products are manufactured in Liu's family-owned factory outside of Shanghai. The family, which has built furniture for retailers for years, shifted their production to source recycled materials. The new round of funding will help Outer develop better products and build a line of rugs, tables and other outdoor products. Liu also said he's focused on expanding content around outdoor living.

If working remotely catches on permanently, he said, it could help his business as people seek to work outside of urban cores to roomier homes with wider outdoor spaces.

The funding round pulled in some big names in Los Angeles consumer tech, including Honey co-founder George Ruan, GOAT co-founder Eddy Lu and Thrive Market co-founder Nick Green.

"It's truly an L.A. story and I am really glad about that," Liu said.

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Los Angeles’ Wage Growth Outpaced Inflation. Here’s What That Means for Tech Jobs

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

Los Angeles’ Wage Growth Outpaced Inflation. Here’s What That Means for Tech Jobs

Inflation hit cities with tech-heavy workforces hard last year. Tech workers fortunate enough to avoid layoffs still found themselves confronting rising costs with little change in their pay.

Those national trends certainly touched down in Los Angeles, but new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that the city of angels was the only major metro area that saw its wage growth grow by nearly 6% while also outpacing the consumer price index, which was around 5%. Basically, LA was the only area where adjusted pay actually came out on a net positive.

So, what does this mean for tech workers in LA County?

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https://twitter.com/samsonamore
samsonamore@dot.la

Energy Shares Gears Up To Bring Equity Crowdfunding to Retail Investors

David Shultz

David Shultz reports on clean technology and electric vehicles, among other industries, for dot.LA. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside, Nautilus and many other publications.

Energy Shares Gears Up To Bring Equity Crowdfunding to Retail Investors
Photo by Red Zeppelin on Unsplash

The Inflation Reduction Act contains almost $400 billion in funding for clean energy initiatives. There’s $250 billion for energy projects. $23 billion for transportation and EVs. $46 billion for environment. $21 billion for agriculture, and so on. With so much cash flowing into the sector, the possibilities for investment and growth are gigantic.

These investment opportunities, however, have typically been inaccessible for everyday retail investors until much later in a company’s development–after an IPO, usually. Meaning that the best returns are likely to be captured by banks and other institutions who have the capital and financing to invest large sums of money earlier in the process.

That’s where Pasadena-based Energy Shares comes in. The company wants to help democratize access to these investment opportunities and simultaneously give early-stage utility-scale energy projects another revenue stream.

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How These Ukranian Entrepreneurs Relocated Their Startups to LA and Found Success

Aisha Counts
Aisha Counts is a business reporter covering the technology industry. She has written extensively about tech giants, emerging technologies, startups and venture capital. Before becoming a journalist she spent several years as a management consultant at Ernst & Young.
How These Ukranian Entrepreneurs Relocated Their Startups to LA and Found Success
Joey Mota

Fleeing war and chasing new opportunities, more than a dozen Ukrainian entrepreneurs have landed in Los Angeles, finding an unexpected community in the city of dreams. These entrepreneurs have started companies that are collectively worth more than $300 million, in industries ranging from electric vehicle charging stations to audience monetization platforms to social networks.

Dot.LA spent an evening with this group of Ukrainian citizens, learning what it was like to build startups in Ukraine, to cope with the unimaginable fear of fleeing war, and to garner the resilience to rebuild.

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