Founder Interviews: Jessica McRae and Kristen Yonson, SwatchPop!
Startup Atlanta interviews the Co-Founders of SwatchPop!
We’ve all heard of movies on demand, but what about interior design?
From lighting fixtures to entire rooms, SwatchPop! works with professional interior designers to find fast and affordable solutions with style.
Necessity in the case of this startup was certainly the impetus for its start.
Jessica was curating design ideas via Pinterest, but couldn’t imagine paying for both an interior designer and making over an entire room. She instead relied on advice through text to an interior design friend.
Through her own difficulty in finding simple and affordable interior design solutions, Jessica developed the idea for on-demand interior design services.
In 2014, Jessica reached out her friend and fellow graduate of Chattahoochee High School, Kristen Yonson, who had a background in digital advertising. “She could take this from idea to business,” says Jessica to Startup Atlanta.
SwatchPop! officially launched in January 2015, and has already been recognized by Emory’s Goizueta School of Business as Startup of the Year, and named to TAG’s Top 40 Most Innovative Companies in Georgia.
Listen to the full interview below to see how Jessica McRae and Kristen Yonson make interior design dreams come true:
Tell us more about yourself and your business.
We’re Kristen and Jessica - the Founders of SwatchPop.com
SwatchPop! is a platform that connects professional designers and consumers all across the country to collaborate on projects big and small. Basically, our users can build their own unique decorating projects, whether someone needs help choosing a new lighting fixture for the foyer, or they need help throughout the room, they can come to SwatchPop! and build their own project, and we’ll match them with the right designer for their style.
How did you know that “now” was the right time to start your business?
It sort of fell on us. I had this idea and I couldn’t shake it. It spoke to me so strongly, and I knew that other women would connect to it as well.
Also in the Southeast, just the feedback that we’re getting from women and men who have tried it, it’s just so encouraging to say, “This is something that I’ve been looking for because we too were looking for something similar to this and found an answer.” It’s cool to identify a problem and solve it and say “yes, I’ve been waiting for this!”
In addition to Startup Atlanta, what other resources do you recommend that people who are starting up in Atlanta take advantage of?
I think one thing we started to do really well this year is we started to apply to a lot of the pitch competitions. We were introduced to all kinds of people within the Atlanta startup space. We didn’t know anyone before that — this is the first time we’ve done this.
Luckily, Jessica had an introduction to Charlie Paparelli, who’s been super helpful in just vetting ideas through and introducing us to Blake Patton, who’s also been really helpful, asking great questions about our business and where it’s headed.
And then APEX Ventures who is dually acting as advisors and as a legal team for us have been really, really helpful for us to build a strategic friends and family round and next steps.
Entrepreneurship is a journey filled with challenges and obstacles, could you give us a specific example of a roadblock that you faced and how you overcame it?
When you’re running a startup, there’s roadblocks every step of the way.
One current roadblock is that we’re running a business without pulling a salary from it. We’ve put every single dollar back into the business. So it’s learning how to run lean in our personal lives, how to balance work and life.
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting up in the city of Atlanta?
“Be strategic: make sure you have a path and a plan on how to get there.”
Discover a New Way to Decorate
SwatchPop! is a company poised for success.
Co-founders Jessica McCrae and Kristen Yonson had an idea and researched to see if their idea was salable. They developed a plan, and worked with partners such as Charlie Paparelli, Blake Patton and Apex Tech Ventures to make their vision real.
They also took their own advice. By going beyond the idea to develop a plan and path to execute it, the founders of SwatchPop! proved that action, a novel idea, and interior design are great complements to each other.
Now where’s the wine?