In the years since appearing on “Shark Tank” in 2019, Jiake Liu and Terry Lin—the owners of outdoor furnishings company Outer—have found no shortage of investors who believe in their model of selling furniture in customer backyards rather than traditional brick-and-mortar stores.
The company just announced the closing of a $50 million Series B investment round, with Kathy Xu of Capital Today, along with Tribe Capital, C Ventures, and Upfront Ventures, leading the new investment.
“Consumers are now acutely aware of the importance of outdoor living, and Outer’s rocket ship growth is a testament to the thoughtful design behind every product,” Xu said. “The company is breathing new life into an industry that has long been an afterthought—and their recent success is just the beginning.”
This is just the latest in the company’s fundraising efforts over the past year-plus. In June 2020, the founders announced $4.3 million in funding in an investment led by Mucker Capital. In January this year, Outer reported receiving $10.5 million in Series A investments, which included contributions from notable angel investors such as Andy Katz-Mayfield and Jeff Raider, the co-founders of razor brand Harry’s; Justin Kan, founder of the streaming platform Twitch; Scott Tannen, founder of online bedding company Boll & Branch; and Alex Pall and Drew Taggart of electronic musical duo The Chainsmokers, who are investing via their Mantis Venture Capital.
Outer launched in 2019 with a model of selling its eco-conscious outdoor furnishings via “Neighborhood Showrooms,” a peer-to-peer program of customer backyards, patios, and similar environs where potential purchasers could visit and see the furniture in a setting similar to their own homes. Customers can apply to become hosts in the program, and they are compensated for their time for appointments with potential customers. In July, Outer launched its 1,000th showroom, covering 49 states, a jump from only 50 showrooms in 2019.
Outer offers furnishings made with resin wicker, teak, and aluminum, as well as rugs, throw pillows, and blankets, and much of it is made in a factory owned by Liu’s family in China. That allowed the startup to sidestep some of the supply chain issues plaguing other furnishings companies in the wake of the pandemic, leading to a 1,000 percent increase in sales in 2020.
Liu and Lin said the additional investment will allow them to expand Outer beyond the United States, as well as expand the product line.
“These funds will enable us to continue developing sustainable materials, build an eco-friendly supply chain, and expand our products and community,” they said in a statement. “We aren’t content to stop at recycled plastics—we’re working on new fabrics, plastics, and concretes to replace industry standards, and we’ll be certified carbon negative this fall.”
Expansion seems to be top of mind for others in the industry. Parachute just branched out beyond bedding, linens, mattresses and similar soft goods to offer a tight selection of furnishings including bed frames. Bed Bath & Beyond has broadened its reach via a Casper shop-in-shop partnership targeting younger demographics as well as an industry advisory panel tapping into celebrity experts like star chef Katie Lee Biegel.