Nestopia: A TripAdvisor + LinkedIn for the interior design industry
After graduating from the Rutgers Business School, when Harsh Jain apprenticed with the senior management at Century Plyboards in 2010, he saw the dynamics and shortcomings of the interior designing industry clearly. Two years later, when his uncle was renovating his flat, he realised that the problems before a home owner were manifold as well.
That's when the idea of Nestopia emerged -- an interior design marketplace that makes designing and building spaces a seamless experience by bringing home owners, design professionals, product sellers and the construction community together through various social and mobile collaborative tools. A sort of TripAdvisor + Linkedin for the design and construction industry.
Harsh was in Kolkata when he decided it was time to build this platform "for young and upcoming designers, product creators and niche professionals in the interior design field to showcase their work, and for home owners to discover tastes that match theirs," Harsh recalls. An idea like this had a better chance of success in a city like Mumbai, he thought, and moved cities. A startup founder relies quite a bit on business connections, networking and family support, at least in the initial days. Harsh had none of it in the beginning. It was a tough choice, but one he is glad he made as things fell into place soon enough.
The most difficult hurdle for Harsh came when three members of his core team had to leave the project within a span of a month. "All of a sudden, the Nestopia team was halved and our work pressure doubled. Those who stayed back helped me overcome the difficult time with great perseverance, grit and patience. If it were not for their focused dedication, we might not have been able to come this far," Harsh recalls.
Building a design gallery is no child's play. To engage a customer, it is important to showcase the designed spaces in a compelling manner. "We tried and tested a number of display formats before arriving at the one we use currently. The rise in the number of daily designer signups tells us that we have been moving along the right path," he says.
"Our blog section strives to make design more understandable to a layman as well as informative to designers, who need to keep abreast of developments that might sometimes go by unnoticed."
While designers can showcase their work on Nestopia.com, home owners can find a designer who can meet their budget, timelines and style requirements, find design inspirations, discover different decor products and ask for tips from the professionals.
Nestopia divides the market into two broad segments:
1) People who want designer homes and can afford to hire an interior designer: From this segment, they have a job board which allows professionals to showcase their work, and home-owners to discover those they would like to hire and interact with them.
2) People who want designer homes but cannot afford to hire a designer: " We are addressing the needs of people in the second segment with our new module: Nestlooks, a collection of curated, designer looks that can be customized according to a client’s budgets, spaces and tastes. This is for those who have a more do-it-yourself approach, and it is also our monetization model," Harsh says. This is a key differentiator for Nestopia.
The path ahead
Currently, Nestopia has a database of over 15,000 designers and architects, whose work is displayed on the site. "Though this does not benefit us monetarily at the moment, it gives us great satisfaction to know that we have been able to make an improvement in this field," Harsh says.
In the next few months, Nestopia intends to bring to life their job board and Nestlooks. A mobile app is also on the anvil.
When a child, Harsh dreamt of becoming a doctor. It seemed to him a good way to help others and add value to the society around. Though the dream gave way to others as he grew up, the core motive -- "to make sure that everything I do adds value to the lives of people around me" -- remained. That, he says, is what drives him to march on the obstacle-ridden path of an entrepreneur.
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