Aimed at interior designers and collectors, Carmine Bruno has launched The Bruno Effect, a digital marketplace that will provide a platform for initially 650 dealers to sell their furniture and collectables online.
Bruno left 1stdibs last autumn and his new business will officially launch in spring 2021.
Prior to working at 1stdibs Bruno set up the online marketplace Online Galleries in 2006 and sold the company to 1stdibs in 2012. As managing director of 1stdibs International he launched its European business.
1stdibs changed the Online Galleries business model from subscription-based to a commission model.
Bruno said: “I think there is a gap in the market. Transactional models have caused friction with dealers. The Bruno Effect will allow dealers to have direct a relationship with customers.”
He said buyers will be able to source items online, but “communicate, negotiate and purchase directly offline”.
The company is based in Cambridge and has 12 members of staff. An online magazine will be launched as part of its marketing drive.
Dealers are invited to join on an invitation-only basis with 650 dealers planned as ‘Founding Members’, including 150 spaces for UK dealers.
Dealers who have not been invited will be added to a waiting list with plans to host no more than 1100 dealers in the longer term “to keep exclusivity and not dilute quality”.
Bruno likened it to a private members club like Soho House and has already signed up 100 members.
Among its UK dealers are Holly Johnson, Butchoff, Lennox Cato, Wakelin & Linfield, Howard Walwyn, Raffety and Debenham Antiques.
It will begin marketing to interior designer customers from September.
Bruno has set the company up using his own money and turned down external funding as he did not want the “pressure for growth from external investors”.
Dealers will sell antiques, collectables and mid-century modern items and Bruno wants to establish the site with furniture first before expanding in the longer term.
The joining fee is £2500 (founding members receive a discount) and Bruno expects the average dealer to spend £5000 a year with the company. He said there are no restrictions to dealers signing up to other sites while using The Bruno Effect.