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Dimensionally Yours Brings Mass Customization to Furniture
A couple of years ago, Tino Go was shopping for a cabinet to fit an odd corner of the stairway landing in his home near Cleveland. He was frustrated
that no merchant had what he wanted: “It was appalling to me that in 2015 I couldn’t find what I wanted easily, or have it made.”
So, like a good entrepreneur, Go started a company to bring together the artistic, tech, and finance sides of his background and solve his own problem: Dimensionally Yours.
Giving People the Furniture They Want
Go explains the basic premise of his company in simple terms: “It’s all about giving people exactly the furniture they want, in exactly the level of complexity or ornateness they want.” In the existing furniture industry, he explains, most products are highly standardized. “If you want something a little different, it’s amazingly hard to find.”
At the other end of the spectrum is fully custom furniture, which has problems of its own. First, it’s very expensive. Second, it’s slow, with orders filled in months rather than days. Third, it puts the burden on the customer to find an artisan or shop they can trust.
Dimensionally Yours aims to bring together the best of both worlds, removing the uncertainties and frustrations of the furniture shopping process while meeting consumers’ needs for quality, price, style, and size. Go himself, who has professional training in photography, sculpture, and painting, serves as the lead designer to create styles that are “as universal as possible.”
His goal is do for the furniture business what Michael Dell did for PCs by combining an easier, faster experience of shopping and delivery with a range of customization options—but not so many as to be overwhelming for consumers.
Appling an Eclectic Background to Design Entrepreneurship
Born in Indonesia, Go grew up in Detroit before living and working in California, France, Germany, and Italy. Leaving behind his first career in advertising in the mid-1990s, he returned to the U.S. and earned an MBA in finance. For more than a dozen years, he served as a financial controller and CFO in diverse industries, including horticultural products, hazardous waste disposal, and a major accounting firm.
“It’s been a wealth of experiences, and that’s kind of what led me to [found the company]” he says. He brings all sides of himself to Dimensionally Yours. “I would say that I’m a great parallel thinker,” he adds. “I’m only expert in a couple of areas, but I’ve seen enough that I can be creative with all the possibilities I see.” Today he runs a global virtual team whose headcount has now cracked double digits.
Using Fusion 360 to Streamline the Custom Design Process
Fusion 360’s ability to support that virtual team through its cloud-based platform has been a key part of its appeal. “Fusion 360 has been really cool and enabling,” Go says. “And for startups, the pricing can’t be beat.”
“What Fusion 360 allows me to do is create fast designs,” he adds. By integrating sculpting and modeling features in one package, it allows the team to use it for everything from initial sketches to models tooled for manufacturing. “The fact that you can go from sketch to model to sculpt to simulation to CAM code in one package is amazing,” Go adds, “not only for workflow but for economics and efficiency.” As Go puts it, Fusion 360’s versatility “allows us to go off on wild creative tangents to design the aesthetics, without having to redesign the structure.”
Go wants to get to the point of embedding sculpted forms so that, for example, a customer who lives in a period home can mirror some of the house’s architectural features in the furniture. For starters, though, “We’re standardizing all the things that customers don’t care about,” such as internal fixtures and connectors, or the new system that Go dreamed up for making and joining table legs. While these improvements may not change the look of a given piece, they systematize common processes across furniture of any size, which in turn simplifies design and manufacturing and reduces costs.
The team is now experimenting with Fusion 360’s API, which Go calls “super interesting,” to enable customers to scale pieces so they can see how they would fit in their home. Meanwhile, they are using the software’s CAM features to work with two local manufacturing partners to achieve their vision of “locally made custom goods, with automation.”
Taking the Furniture Industry in a New Direction
Go and his team continue to refine their marketing and other aspects of the company. “We’re still trying to find that product/market fit,” he says. He sees the company as being competitive with more upscale mass retailers like Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel, and thinks that pent-up demand for mass-customized furniture might equate to 10 or 15 percent of the entire market for bookcases and tables.
To meet the needs of that market, he says, “We’re working on more universal designs” such as the Digit bookcase system. Depending on which options customers choose, the bookcases can be left very plain, or made into unusual shapes by configuring the columns differently or adding features such as crenellations.
So far, Go has financed the company through bootstrapping, though he foresees taking venture capital at some point. “The hurdle right now is that it’s a culture shift,” he says. Furniture is “a staid and very cost-inefficient industry” that’s ripe for disruption once consumers and investors start thinking about the furniture buying process differently. “I think that in five years, this kind of business will be very established,” he adds.
Meanwhile, he’s happy to keep working toward that reality: “The whole mission of giving people what they want, versus what they can find in inventory, is super-satisfying to me.”