Furniture is the most important part of home décor. While there are a number of online stores selling custom made furniture, very few offer variety in terms design and colour. This observation made Mukund Agarwal, a 19 year old, float his startup Brownstraw. Mukund says,
There are businesses selling furniture but no one is concentrating on options.
Brownstraw is a curator of fine designs and options of furniture from around the world.
Mukund comes from a family with business background. Before starting Brownstraw, he was pursuing Chartered Accountancy and later got involved in his father's granite manufacturing business. However, Mukund wanted to do something on his own and moved to Jodhpur for getting an insight into furniture export business. Mukund says,
I went with my cousin to buy clothes for his wedding. When I saw him choosing colours of the clothes I knew what I wanted to do. It was not export of granites, but to give customers the option to choose from a variety of furniture just like clothes. The market had a void which needed to be filled. This was where Brownstraw came into existence.
USPs and differentiators
Brownstraw is not targeting custom made furniture, but it primarily gives options for different kinds of furniture. Mukund adds,
Our primary focus is product, the designer furniture. We are offering options in terms of colour, finishing, fabric and leather. It's all about choosing what is right for ones house. Very few people actually want to go through the pain of finding designs and then getting them manufactured. We offer customization in our designs.
Traction, team & size of opportunity
So far the Bengaluru-based venture has received around 25 enquiries from limited marketing efforts but processed only one order of Rs. 45,000. Mukund reveals,
Our website is still under development, we will start social media marketing after it goes online.
Led by two-member team, Brownstraw is an inventory-led play and generates revenue via a B2C model. The Indian furniture market is of Rs.1,40,000 crore out of which the online market is of about Rs.750 crore. The industry is pretty unorganised. The market for customised furniture is huge as a lot of people still prefer to get furniture made by local carpenters. However, now this market is facing a stiff competition from online market players.
Road ahead and competition
The company is looking to establish a finishing and packing unit so that it can offer the finishing and fabric options. In terms of scalability, it plans to expand same offering overseas. Mukund says,
Currently, many Indian players export in wholesale. We look to serve retail customers in USA and Europe initially.
The company competes with venture capital funded startups like Livspace and Homelane. While Livspace secured USD 4.6 million series A funding from Helion Venture Partners and Bessemer Venture Partners, HomeLane raised USD 4.5 million series A funding from Sequoia Capital and Aarin Capital.
Of late, home furnishing has become a hot category in Indian e-commerce space and customised or customer-led design seems to be gradually catching up in pure play furniture vertical. However, success of startups (including Brownstarw) in this vertical would largely be dependent on venture capital as e-commerce in India is survival of the richest, not fittest.
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