Sunday 25 August 2019

Sligo banker aims to develop 'Skyscanner of home furnishings'

Deirdre McGettrick, chief executive and co-founder of Kuldea, is planning an expansion to Ireland
Deirdre McGettrick, chief executive and co-founder of Kuldea, is planning an expansion to Ireland

Gabrielle Monaghan

The Co Sligo investment banker behind Kuldea, a home furnishings aggregator that promises to revolutionise online furniture shopping the way Skyscanner simplified flight searches, plans to raise £500,000 (€539,200) from private investors this autumn and enter the Irish market in 2020.

Deirdre McGettrick, chief executive and co-founder of Kuldea, gave up her career at HSBC in London in April to focus full-time on the business, which she set up 18 months ago with her Australian partner Ray Wright. A first round of funding in July raised £150,000 from two investors, one of whom is Irish.

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"We're no longer a small startup, so now it's about scaling up the brand and using some of the technology out there to add additional features to the website," McGettrick said.

Kuldea lists furniture and soft furnishings sold by UK retailers, and acts as a search engine. It allows consumers to compare products and prices in one place, rather than visiting and searching individual online stores. To make a purchase, users are directed to the relevant retailer's website.

The one-stop-shop for furniture is on target to showcase more than 300,000 products from 66 retail partners this autumn, having signed up a further 20 retailers to its platform in the past two weeks.

Some of its partners, such as Laura Ashley, Oak Furnitureland and the French Bedroom Company, either have Irish operations or deliver to Ireland, but Kuldea plans to expand here and to the US directly next year.

McGettrick, a graduate of the University of Limerick and Trinity College Dublin, moved to London in 2011 and spent eight years in investment banking. Kuldea, a play on the words 'cool idea', was born after she bought an apartment and became frustrated with spending long hours trawling through websites searching for the right sofa or bedside table. After she marketed Kuldea, the firm was approached by boutique furniture retailers eager to link up with the website.

"Smaller brands especially struggle to cut through the noise because the big guys, like Wayfair and Ikea, have big marketing budgets," McGettrick said.

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