The backyard is not a typical location to place home furniture. That used to be true until Terry Lin and Jiake Liu started an outdoor furniture company named Outer. Their products can withstand many weather conditions, so customers can put them outside without worrying about damage. As of 2022, Outer is valued at $100 million.
About the Founders
Terry Lin and Jiake Liu are both from California, United States. Terry studied fine arts at the Rhode Island School of Design, and Jiake is a computer engineering graduate from the University of Alabama.
For more than a decade, Lin worked as a designer at Pottery Barn. During this time, Liu was helping several startups expand and scale. He was the one who originally came up with the idea for Outer.
When he noticed the lack of outdoor furniture available on the market, he started looking for someone with experience in the crafting industry. This is how he came across Terry Lin and they quickly became business partners.
Establishing the Company
Lin designed furniture made up of all-weather wicker, memory foam pads, stain-resistant materials, and an integrated cover. Their main product is the outdoor sofa, which comes in two to five configurable sections.
By excluding showrooms from their business model, they are able to maintain their pricing cheaper than the competition. Interested buyers can look at samples in “neighborhood showrooms,” which are the backyards of real customers.
The average sofa and chair prices are $3,300. Outer was officially launched in 2017. In the first four months, they were able to pull off a fruitful promotional campaign and record sales of over $800,000.
Shark Tank Appearance
Terry and Jiake went to Shark Tank in late 2019. They asked for $750,000 in exchange for 4% equity in the startup. Their pitch introduced the idea of reinventing furniture and how it could be sold in the future.
The Sharks were very interested in the outdoor sofas, but most of them believed the offer was overvalued. Even with this, Kevin O’Leary and Lori Greiner didn’t pass up the opportunity.
Kevin proposed $750,000 for 20% but got denied. Lori, on the other hand, made several profitable counter deals. In the end, she settled with $750,000 for a 5% stake and a $30 per unit royalty. After some time contemplating the offer, the founders of Outer took the deal.
After Shark Tank
The probability of Outer becoming a premier patio furniture label has improved significantly with Lori’s extensive experience in the business-to-consumer space. However, it is reported that the deal with the celebrity investor hasn’t closed yet.
Even so, Lin and Liu still found ways to raise money. In 2021, they received $10.5 million in their Series A funding, with the primary investor being Sequoia Capital China. Later that year, Series B raised $50 million from Tribe Capital, Capital Today, Upfront Ventures, and C Ventures.
Outer gained a lot of attention for its unique take on the furniture business. Most notably, they have been featured in major publications like Forbes and GQ Entrepreneur. The company is doing extremely well and is thriving as a business in a competitive space. They had recent sales of $45 million and have 500 showrooms across the US. This is why Outer is currently worth $100 million.