How this student joined Pepperfry to learn about the furniture market to help start CityFurnish a furniture rental platform
Gone are the days when people lived for years in one location and stayed at one job for decades. We live in a high-energy, rotational, and fast-moving world. In addition to on-demand cabs and transport, the age of on-demand rental furniture, it seems, has also come of age. CityFurnish is one such startup. It helps individuals and corporates furnish their homes or offices with furniture and appliances without the burden of heavy investment.
The idea of CityFurnish originated way back when Neerav Jain was studying at Delhi University and had to move furniture to Delhi and shift back after his graduation. “I started working on CityFurnish in September 2015, and by September end, we were live in the market doing over 50 rentals,” adds 22-year old Neerav. He also interned at Pepperfry to get a better understanding of the furniture market and space.
They started with a people of team of two – Neerav and his friend Saurabh Gupta started working from their flat in Gurgaon. Neerav says they started building the team by pitching the idea and convincing people to join them. One of their first team members was Vikas, who had joined them from Pepperfry. Today, they are a team of 11 working across Delhi and Bengaluru.
The product portfolio includes solid wooden furniture with premium furnishings and branded appliances. “This is so as we are trying to make renting the new buying, and provide the same comfort and utility to our consumers,” adds Neerav.
Setting up the base
Knowing that they had to set a strong base, they took advantage of Neerav’s family-owned furniture manufacturing business based out of Jodhpur. Neerav adds that it gives the team the ability to design and manufacture furniture for CityFurnish.
CityFurnish charges a monthly rent from the user with a minimum lock-in period of three months. The customers pay the booking amount, and the subsequent rentals could be paid by cash, cheque, or card.
The consumer can view and select products or packages from their website and select the rental tenure, and pay the booking amount. The team in turn delivers and installs the furniture at the customer’s address, and also provides a free maintenance check-up on the client’s request.
“Our basic 2BHK packages including solid wooden furniture, appliances and furnishings cost Rs. 5,600 per month,” says Neerav.
Warehousing and growth
Though they have a manufacturing facility in place, the team knew they had to get the warehouse model in place, with the help of a few friends and family in the industry. The team decided to set their initial warehouse base with Agarwal Packers and Movers. Neerav adds that when the volume of their business began to grow, and they started seeing traction, they decided to set up their own warehouse.
The warehouse now is full with a UV-enhanced sterilisation facility that ensures the cleaning and polishing of upholstery and other furniture. The team claims to have furnished more than 450 homes across Delhi and Bengaluru. They say their MoM growth rate is at 55 per cent and they have rented more than 6,100 individual products.
The team have raised a small seed round and are looking to raise the next round of investment soon. CityFurnish is planning to launch in Pune by the end of this month.
“We are building up our technology to improve product management and financial control. Along with that, we are launching additional modular and space-saving furniture in Delhi and Bengaluru,” says Neerav.
With the likes of UrbanLadder and Pepperfry, there was a push towards establishing a behaviour for buying furniture. In India, it was a big shift in behaviour considering furniture in most homes were either family- or legacy-owned, or had to be made by a carpenter. Now with the on-demand economy coming into play, there is more focus towards building a rental setup.
India is one of the major markets for organised furniture industry, ranking at eight globally. This market is disorganised as the concept is very new in our country, but it’s a very proven concept in the west with a decent market share in the furniture industry.
Over the past one year, the space witnessed the debuts of startups like Furlenco, Wheelstreet, Rentomojo, Etashee, SmartMumbaikar, and Rentsetgo. In fact, Furlenco is a direct competition to CityFurnish as they follow similar models. The advantage Furlenco has over CityFurnish is the investment that the company has already raised.
Apart from designing, owning, and holding all the inventory, Furlenco has an in-house team that focusses on design. The other advantage it has is that in their subscription model, they offer solutions that cover living rooms, kitchens, or bed rooms.
The company also has a strong customer base that swears by Furlenco thanks to their overall focus on complete management of the entire experience. The company has also invested strongly in the market to establish a strong foothold.
Rentomojo is another deeply funded startup in the space. CityFurnish now not only has to compete with well-funded startups, but also has to work with a market that is getting crowded with every passing tick.