Melbourne-based startup Programa has raised $2 million in seed funding to help bring interior designers and architects out of the spreadsheet age and into the cloud era.
The software-enabled marketplace brings together both designers and brands with a single, fully integrated platform that helps them manage their projects, workflow, products and purchasing.
With Programa’s cloud-based platform, cumbersome tasks that might take a designer two days to complete are reduced to just minutes.
Since launching during the peak of Melbourne’s lockdown in July 2020, Programa has grown quickly with more than 2,000 registered interior designers and more than 350 registered brands and suppliers.
Its momentum has helped the business attract the attention of leading Australian investors including Sydney-based Investible and Equity Venture Partners (EVP), who co-led this seed investment round.
“Designers are desperate for a better solution, and often tell us they didn’t study for years at university only to spend most of their time using Microsoft Excel, searching Google and chasing quotes”, explains Co-founder & CEO Traviss Orr.
“We’ve developed a solution that brings efficiency and simplicity to the industry by integrating everything they need to run their design business into a single platform. That means less time spent on data entry and more time designing and delivering profitable projects,” he added.
“The problem we’re solving isn’t limited to Australia. The global industry is no different so we’re working hard to build solutions for the local industry ahead of international markets,” he continued.
In addition to supporting professional designers to increase the bottom line, Programa also simplifies the sales process between designers and suppliers – a market that is worth more than $7 billion in Australia alone.
Having previously owned Denfair, Australia’s largest interior design trade show, Co-founder Claudio Oyarce says the team saw a significant opportunity to make it easier for design brands to service their highest value clients.
“A designer might select hundreds of products from dozens of suppliers for a single project – all with different lead times, quoting platforms, delivery schedules and information they need to enter manually,” says Oyarce.
“With sales from professional designers representing more than 50% to 70% of an industry supplier’s annual sales revenue, we want to make it easier for them to find, organise and purchase their products and manage their orders, quotes, deliveries, clients and inventory. It’s a win-win that saves everyone in the industry valuable time and money.”
In fact, designers are already using Programa to manage hundreds of projects and have already specified more than $20 million of products.
Investors expressed their confidence in the value Programa can bring to the design and architectural industries and on the ability of its team to deliver.
“Traviss and Claudio’s complementary experience makes Programa well-positioned to succeed. Traviss is an experienced entrepreneur with a passion for scaling quickly while Claudio possesses over 15 years’ design experience with relationships with some of the largest designers and brands globally,” says Daniel Veytsblit, Investment Director at Investible.
“In conversations with designers, it quickly becomes clear that Programa addresses a significant, painful administrative burden. With Programa, designers are now able to focus their energy on actual creative design work. The rapid early uptake of thousands of designers and hundreds of brands validated the opportunity for Programa in an industry responsible for several billions dollars in annual spend,” says Mark Velik Investment Manager at EVP.