Friday, November 21, 2008

Gail Austin of Summerfield Talks about Her Startup

Gail Austin of Summerfield talks about her startup

How did you get into retail?

I have a degree from the University of North Texas in Interior Design and then I worked at places such as Sanger Harris. It was long ago and now they turned into two or three other entities. Now they are Macy’s.

What’s the idea behind your startup? What’s unique about this one?

So often one goes out to shop and doesn’t find what they’re looking for. I have an idea on how to create a better retail experience at a cost advantage over the competition.

How would you create a better experience?

Summerfield embodies the spirit of luxury, while showing the discriminating consumer an alternative to high costs: special offerings, special services.
Superior customer service: I have JD Powers awards for outstanding customer service.
Also, I am uniquely aware, because of my background, of low and high budgets and particularly good at mixing the two.

What would you focus on first?

Home interiors. I plan to hit the market between the Heather Scotts and the John Williams level. Specifically, I want to hit market trends in home offices and outdoor accessories.

One of the challenges with retail is scalability. How will this scale to be big? How you are going to get to be 5x in 5 year unless you are opening more stores ?

After the initial model takes off, we will open a second location in another Austin top zip code area for high disposable income—not currently served by this type of business. This business will expand with internet sales and marketing, similar to Furniture Land which is based in North Carolina. Their model is a retail outlet and huge internet sales.

How is your business model superior to others?

Same day deliveries, our door to yours.
Interior Design (1 hr.) will be complimentary with delivery of merchandise for add-on sales.
Better displays and suggestions because of my design talent.
Expansion into internet sales and marketing.
Marketing creatively, including realtor emails.
Owner is creative thinker.

How do you plan to expand the operation?

Internet Sales and Marketing, 2nd location, Interior Design Classes, mass emails to select groups.

So have you done a fast pitch competition before?

This is my first try.

Well let’s hear it.

I am Gail Austin. The problem I’m solving is that in the southwest Austin area there is not enough service furnishing homes and gifts locally. People have to drive 30-45 minutes to find what they are looking for. And people in that area have a significant amount of disposable income so as investors we should care that we can meet their needs, give them outstanding customer service and show their profit. So market size down there is wanting to be enhanced and expanded. And I am looking for $125,000 in addition to what I put in the business and we will have a lease, two employees and approximately $50,000 in merchandise on the floor at wholesale prices and the investor can expect a return on his income of about 10%.

The consumers will be amazed at what is at their fingertips: a luxury look at a value price.

Best regards,
Hall T.