In this era of remote work, it may seem like managing furniture, fixtures and equipment (FF&E) procurement for multi-location projects would be a seamless process, but Charlie Miner, founder of contemporary furniture marketplace WorkOf, discovered that it was far from easy.
The New York-based entrepreneur took his experience working with architectural firms, interior designers, business owners and real estate developers to a new startup called Notch, which offers software that brings together various tools for FF&E procurement into one package, saving time and money.
“There was not really any great tech in that space,” said Miner, who launched WorkOf in 2014, and later created an agency called WorkOf Studio to source contemporary furnishings made by independent companies for large commercial and residential projects.
The studio used a collection of applications — including Google Sheets, Trello, Asana and email — to manage its projects. That experience led Miner to launch Notch, to help other companies and developers streamline its procurement process and track inventory.
“Businesses have different needs than someone designing a home,” Miner said. “Notch gets rid of the repetitive steps.”
The software, which is offered via a subscription, comes with three components. The first is a catalogue of products, with vendor information for each product that can be updated, replacing PDFs or spreadsheets that can become out of date. There’s also a planning and budgeting interface and an ordering interface. All of the components work together. If a team is building a lighting package, for example, they can add products from the catalog right into the floorplan in the planning section and create templates to duplicate locations. The user can then take the planning information and send a request for a quote, and convert that quote into an order.
After going into beta in 2018, Notch has worked with Bluestone Lane, an Australian coffee chain with a location next to WorkOf’s Brooklyn showroom. The company was planning to design and roll out dozens of new stores, and the team replaced its Excel spreadsheets and Dropbox folders with Notch to source and purchase brand-approved products and manage its inventory.
“If store closes, they can redistribute items, or if something breaks down they can easily reorder,” Miner said.
Multi-unit residential developers can also utilize Notch. WorkOf Studio used the software when working with Extell Development on its One Manhattan Square development in lower Manhattan, which offers pre-furnished apartments. WorkOf Studio was in charge of purchasing and installing the furnishings for these turnkey buyer packages for six different unit styles.
“My team tracked all of ordering and logistics through Notch,” Miner said.
Miner also sees a space for Notch in the growing short-term rental market as the hospitality sector begins its recovery from the pandemic.
Collaborative workflow tools like Notch have been embraced by the construction industry during the pandemic, and Miner said he’s seen significant uptick in demand for the platform as a result.
“COVID demonstrated the importance of digital supply chain management and more dynamic inventory tracking,” Miner said. “It’s no longer sufficient to run procurement through a patchwork of spreadsheets on a local server. Whether teams are re-stacking existing commercial spaces for office re-entry or relocating existing inventory to new spaces after downsizing, a cloud-based project management tool like Notch has become essential for maintaining efficiency and business continuity.”
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