Seungjae Lee, a former chemical and electrical engineer, turned his passion for inside design and style into material sharing platform oHouse. Now, the startup is a person of Korea’s largest life style apps at a valuation of about $1.6 billion.

The inspiration behind Korea’s largest lifestyle and decorating system struck all through a “day of destiny” for oHouse founder and CEO Seungjae Lee, who was checking out a friend’s residence when he fell in adore with interior design and style.

“I had seemed at quite a few architecture pics on Pinterest, and felt that stunning properties have been only feasible in the Western world,” Lee states from the oHouse office environment in Seoul, all through a video job interview with Forbes. “When I visited [my friend’s] property, I recognized it was possible in Korea … I thought that these forms of places could make people’s life improved.”

Lee, 34, introduced oHouse in 2014 after graduating with a diploma in chemical and electrical engineering from Seoul Nationwide University. It started as a community to share interior layout thoughts, evoking the ponder he felt when checking out his friend’s effectively-developed rooms. The app is now one of the most well known on the Korean net, with more than 20 million downloads – virtually 50 percent of Korea’s full populace – and 10 million every month active customers throughout the app and internet site, in accordance to oHouse’s dad or mum enterprise Bucketplace.

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In early May perhaps, oHouse closed a $182 million series D round, bringing the full quantity of funding in the business to $261.2 million. With the refreshing capital, the startup verified its valuation of about $1.6 billion to Forbes – earning it the most up-to-date Korean firm to obtain unicorn position just after RIDI, a webcomic platform, concluded a $99.4 million funding round in March.

Investors in oHouse’s most up-to-date spherical include things like Korea Enhancement Lender, billionaire Park Hyeon-joo’s Mirae Asset Funds, SoftBank Ventures Asia, the undertaking arm of Japanese billionaire Masayoshi Son’s SoftBank Group, and Singaporean condition-owned trader Temasek Holdings’ Vertex Expansion.

“oHouse is not only reworking the home furnishing sector but also reshaping the e-commerce customer encounter,” says JP Lee, CEO of SoftBank Ventures Asia, in a assertion about the most current funding.

By the app, oHouse customers look through pics of other users’ types for inspiration and invest in products similar to those people in the pics. The startup claims that a furnishings item is procured by means of their platform each 7 seconds, driving annualized gross goods quantity to a history $1.7 billion in 2021.

In Korea, wherever fifty percent of the inhabitants life in the cash town of Seoul, interior style involves creativity for compact and typically highly-priced flats. In Seoul, studio apartments are generally considerably less than 215 sq. toes (20 square meters), in accordance to a neighborhood media report from 2021.

On top of that, as the pandemic expected a lot of staff to function from dwelling – Korea’s quarantine and virus avoidance steps ranked amid the strictest in the planet, with the state only opening to foreign visitors previous thirty day period – living areas ended up reconsidered, and typically redesigned.

“We believe that some of the behaviors that we have realized during the pandemic, like spending a lot more time indoors, operating from dwelling and generating personalized areas extra cozy … are listed here to continue to be,” claims Young Jee, oHouse’s head of finance, a Wharton MBA grad and former principal at Korean billionaire Bom Kim’s e-commerce giant Coupang.

As clients may perhaps not usually appear to enhance household furniture, oHouse emphasizes its “content-dependent community” of design and style ideas, along with its way of living phase covering profits of scaled-down items, from curtains to lightbulbs. The system also features providers like residence reworking, relocating, installation and mend. oHouse says it will improve its logistics infrastructure for shipping and delivery services.

“If we wanted to increase into a entire new location, like food stuff, which we’re experimenting with currently … we’re not just displaying you, say, bread, we’re showing you a desk,” Jee states. “We’re not going to broaden into distinct categories and solutions just on the basis of how large that industry is, it’s what our buyers are asking for.”

The self-explained “lifestyle superapp” is eyeing worldwide enlargement, starting off with Southeast Asia, the United States and Western Europe – the company’s English-language web site states it will be obtainable in the U.S. by this summertime. In November, oHouse obtained Singaporean on the net furniture platform Hipvan, marking the Korean company’s initially stride in Southeast Asia.

Past growing into new marketplaces, oHouse plans to integrate equipment finding out and augmented reality (AR) operation into its platform, which will help customers to “imagine” how home furnishings appears to be in their apartment ahead of acquiring new objects. Escalating AR capabilities have viewed new applications in home furnishings retail and interior style and design, as perfectly as true estate. InSpace, an AR firm led by Forbes 30 underneath 30 honoree Justin Liang, formulated a platform for real estate specialists to host 3D electronic replicas of their structures on-line.

No subject how large oHouse gets to be, with shifting organizations and even foodstuff supply providers, Lee still believes its values from that “day of destiny” are intact.

“Why we’re doing this has normally been the exact same … to make people’s lives better,” Lee claims.