We caught up with Isabel Rutland, the founder of Discover&Deliver, which gives visitors to the site the chance to purchase particular items or décor spotted in hotels.
It’s often the small details that give good hotels a memorable quality – perhaps a particular lampshade, or the softness of the bed sheets. Isabel Rutland, is the founder of Discover&Deliver, a start-up with a focus on luxury, picking out beautiful design in hotels across the globe and giving visitors to the site the chance to purchase particular items or décor spotted on their travels.
Isabel’s previous job as an investment principal at a private equity firm meant she spent a lot of time in hotels and this is where the idea for Discover&Deliver first began to take shape. Having experienced identikit décor the world over, any unique item or touch of design flair in a hotel room stood out and this observation was cemented in her mind while honeymooning in New York. She loved the design of her hotel room and wanted to replicate the look in her own bedroom back in London, but had no idea how to go about it, and felt that this must be a common feeling amongst hotel guests. She spent the next two years researching interior and product decorators to find the best sources for hotel design and launched the Discover&Deliver site in March of this year. We got in touch with Isabel to find out how the business is going post-launch.
1. Where did the idea for Discover&Deliver come from?
On holiday with my husband in 2009. My husband and I had just bought a small house and needed some furniture. Not having quite the budget for a full interior design service and also having the desire to stamp the house with our own taste, we set about trying to furnish it ourselves. We realised that much of our inspiration came from some of the wonderful hotels we had stayed in through the course of the past two to three years. We set about trying to find individual pieces. We talked to friends and colleagues. We soon realised that there were lots of people, like ourselves, who had been similarly inspired. These hotels are like the catwalks for the furniture industry, but there isn’t a Net-a-Porter equivalent yet. That is what we want to be, in a very broad sense. We want to enfranchise people in design generally and give them colour on some of the very talented interior designers who have put together these looks, as well as the forward-thinking hotels and restaurants which invest in high-quality design.
2. Can you describe a typical working day?
There is no such thing as a typical day. We come across new things and we do new things each day. That is one of the pleasures of a start-up and why I seem to have so much more energy than ever before.
3. How do you unwind or relax when you are not working on Discover&Deliver?
Not easily. As any person who has set up a business, or simply has had a good idea, knows the hours when you are not working on your project you are haunted by the fear that someone else is going to get there before you! However, if you were to pin me down on the point, I would say hanging out with my lovely husband and my black labrador are pretty high up there.
4. What is the secret ingredient to success as an entrepreneur?
I’ll let you know when I get there!
5. What drove you crazy when building your business?
I cannot bear rejection. If people reject Discover&Deliver and belonging to it for any reason (of which, I might add, there have been very few) it sends me into a frenzied overdrive to prove them wrong.
6. What motivates you to keep going?
I believe I can change the way people buy design. Having an opportunity to make a visible/tangible difference to something is extraordinarily motivating.
7. If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Oh, a lot of things. I have made so many mistakes along the way, but then I am the sort of person that needs to make the mistakes myself in order to learn. I am not very good at learning from other people’s mistakes – a roundabout way I suppose of saying I don’t like taking advice, which drives my husband nuts.
8. Where do you see your business in five years and how will you get there?
The Net-a-Porter of furniture and lighting.
9. If you were not working on Discover&Deliver, what would you be doing?
Another start-up of some sort; I have some other ideas. In fact, when you immerse yourself in a sector you see lots of new opportunities and areas for improvement that could form the basis of clever little businesses.
10. Tell Springwise a secret…
What, so you can tell all your readers! I suppose this is the opportunity for some misinformation to steer the competition in the wrong direction, but I am not clever enough for such devious things.
11. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?
There is no single bit of advice that is more important than any other, but I would say believe in yourself and inject everything you do with energy and enthusiasm. People pick up on passion.
13th July 2012