M.O. Interviews Apt2B President Mat Herman!

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Small business site M.O. recently interviewed Apt2B president Mat Herman, who spoke about what makes Apt2B unique and the people behind the scenes that make it all happen. Here's an excerpt:

MO: What in your background prepared you to run Apt2B? Mat: I’ve worked in the furniture industry for 15 years (since 1996), and worked on both the wholesale and retail sides. I come armed with a great knowledge and understanding of how things work as a whole in this market. This experience of working on both sides – spending half of my time running a retail store, and the other half selling to retail stores as a wholesale rep – has allowed me to be able to offer our customers the absolute best value available to them. MO: What makes Apt2B different than other online home decor companies? Mat: What makes us so unique is the fact that we are able to do everything on a local level. We’re not charging our customers for our retail space, since we warehouse everything locally; we’re not charging them for us to ship nationally, since we only ship to a 50-mile zone, allowing us to charge a very nominal delivery fee, ship quickly and provide in-home set-up. We try to use all local suppliers. When customers order, we have the stuff already available, as opposed to most other furniture and home décor companies that have to order when you order, and make you wait at least one to six weeks. We’re also engaging with our customers through our website and different social media platforms, not just targeting them through SEO keywords. Most e-commerce sites put all of their advertising into SEO, so it doesn’t matter where you live, but if someone types in the word “sofa,” it will bring them to you. We’re learning that locally, we’re not trying to just sell to people, but we’re here to have lifetime customers, and by doing so and being able to operate locally, we’re able to advertise and publicize ourselves through local publications and cable outlets, and we’re able to geo-target our customer, as if we are a brick and mortar store. That’s what makes us unique. We’re able to cultivate a community of followers by having that unique opportunity to mix both traditional advertising with e-commerce advertising. MO: Why only serve Los Angeles? Do you plan to expand anytime soon? Mat: By only serving Los Angeles right now, and keeping it local within a 50-mile zone, we’re able to offer our customers a much greater value than if we were to serve the rest of the country. In addition, it allows us to really hone in on what Angelenos want, rather than painting everyone with a broad stroke. We definitely want to expand, but the key is everywhere we will expand we will open up locally, just as it is run in the LA market. After LA, we plan to start expanding to other California cities, such as San Francisco and San Diego, and then outward from there to other urban areas, such as New York, Atlanta, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. – places of major urban apartment living. We will cater it to each local market, while still keeping our core demographic and umbrella intact. The brand’s age group will always remain the same, but the looks, sizes and styles of our products in each different market will vary a bit. We want to give each area’s consumers exactly what they want. MO: After looking at your website I would have no idea that your company only has 3 people working for it. How do you manage to run it with only 3 people? Mat: Three minds, on the same level, working 18-hour days, seven days a week. Yes, there are only three of us, but it’s been something we have been building for three years. The truth is that in the beginning, we went to angel investors and venture capitalists, but they wanted more of a percentage of the brand, and we knew at the time what we were sitting on, and we didn’t want to give that up. We would have rather worked harder and had more control of the brand and its revenue. Luckily, we secured enough funding with friends and family, but if we didn’t start somewhere, we would still be talking about the idea now. And since then, we’ve been doubling our business every month, so it’s inevitable that as we grow, we will expand. At the current time, we’re very proud of this company and that it seems like it’s 20 to 40 people running it.

You can read the rest of the article here.

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