Crude Area recently raised a round of funding from a syndicate of angel investors. The investment round has been led by Webchutney founders Sidharth Rao and Sudesh Samaria along with two other angel investors from the US. Founded by Shweta Bhandari and Nidhi Dewan in November 2012, Crude Area curates art and design from around the world and India.
Nidhi and Shweta have a background in communication and had worked together at Webchutney in the past. “Nidhi moved on from Webchtuney to pursue her masters at LSE and I joined in her position. That's where we met first and kept in touch,” recalls Shweta. Launched in November 2012, the name Crude Area was a twist on the idea of art as understood in India. “Art in India is perceived as posh, mysterious and unapproachable. We wanted to turn this idea on its head and interpret it in our own cheeky way. The name pokes fun at the idea of refinement and taking yourself too seriously,” says Shweta. Priced from Rs 1,750 to Rs 9,600, CrudeArea claims to have sold about 1000 pieces of individual artworks since launch.
They intend to use some of the money raised to ramp operations and scale product offerings across home decor and lifestyle categories. Investments will also be made in marketing activities and reaching out to more customers. “We've relied on word of mouth and digital marketing campaigns for consumers to discover us. Institutional sales (via interior designers, architects) has been another way for us to reach customers as well as build topline revenues to reinvest in direct customer marketing,” says Shweta.
CrudeArea is targeting young first time home buyers and looking at the opportunity presented by the home decor market which Nidhi says has the potential to be worth $25-30 billion in a couple of years. “We knew there is huge opportunity in helping the new working class consumer personalize their cookie-cut homes and soulless offices with stuff that resonates with them and makes them feel good,” she says. Plans are also afoot to introduce decals, wallpapers, mobile cases, tablet / laptop covers, cushion covers and more.
The startup only prints/produces on demand, which helps make their business cash-flow efficient. They are also working with partners to understand how to develop categories using technologies like 3D printing.
Nidhi is also bullish about the opportunity of what she calls "curated commerce" where purchase decisions are more thoughtful and personal. They believe there is a large addressable segment ripe to move online. Development of a mobile app to help show to customers how the final product will look like is also being planned.