Husband-wife duo start India’s first and only content platform for home designsAparajita Choudhury
During the 26 years of journey in home decor industry, Navneet Malhotra (50) and Ritu Malhotra (49) have come across many clients who have approached them with dozens of pictures from magazines or from the web for ideas about their interiors of their homes. The husband-wife duo realised that homeowners in India still face problems when it comes to finding the best interior designs. This led them to start Renomania, an online platform for home and interior designs, in September 2015.
Delhi-based Renomania contains a catalogue of beautiful home pictures, articles on latest design trends, and general advice on different aspects of the home design or remodelling process. The website has four categories – photos, scrapbook, pro finder, and blogs.
The ‘Pro Finder’ section features a curated list of architects, interior designers, landscape designers, contractors, developers, home product brands, and builders. All the pictures in Renomania are curated by the team of photographers who travel across India to capture beautiful homes, as designed by India’s leading architects and professionals. The startup so far has built a catalogue of over 70,000 HD photographs with eight in-house photographers and onboarded 600 interior design professionals in India.
Renomania allows professionals to showcase their work to a larger audience by creating their profile. It enables them to have total control over their online presence, generate leads, and build a large community of loyal followers. We are building a huge community where homeowners could discuss the right type of granite to use in their kitchen, the right paint for their bedroom wall, and the right type of tiles for their bathroom.”
Moreover, professionals are allowed to upload projects on a regular basis with appropriate tags, view their followers, check reviews, ratings and comments about their projects. They can also share their work or projects on social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and more.
Renomania is the second venture of Ritu and Navneet. In 1989, the duo has co-founded AA Design Consultants Pvt. Ltd, a Delhi-based architecture and design firm. Ritu is a graduate from the School of Planning and Architecture. Navneet holds a bachelor’s degree in Architecture from ‘School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi, and an M. Tech. degree in ‘Construction Engineering and Management’ from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi.
Rahul Lodha (33), who was one of the clients of AA Design Consultants, also joined forces with them as the third Co-founder and Chief of Technology at Renomania. Rahul earned a B. Tech from IIT Kharagpur in 2004 and has over 11 years of professional experience. Prior to co-founding Renomania, Rahul was VP of Engineering at 99Acres.com. He has previously worked for Samsung and Yahoo!
When Ritu and Navneet discussed the idea with the former CEO of Homeshop18, Sundeep Malhotra, they received a positive feedback. And soon Sundeep decided to join Renomania as an advisor and investor which mitigated the risk to an extent during the initial days.
Sundeep offers business consultancy and advice, drawing from his experience of successfully starting and running HomeShop18.”
Traffic on the website
In less than five months, Renomania is witnessing 3,00,000 unique visitors every month and this number is increasing by 50 per cent month-on-month. The company aims to reach about half a million unique visitors by April 2016. Navneet emphasised that 35 per cent of traffic on the website is repeat visitors.
Renomania has not been monetised so far. However, it will have multiple options for monetisation by the end of April 2016 – advertisements, listing fees from product companies (paints, lighting, tiles among other fittings) or professionals on the platform and a small fee for any transactions on a third-party website that is enabled by Renomania.
Currently, Renomania has team of 36 employees including photographers. The startup is looking to expand its catalogue beyond 1,00,000 pictures by April 2016. It will also expand the professional base to 1,000 and launch an app which will allow users to discuss their home design ideas with each other.
The online home decor market in India has gained momentum in recent years, with the startups in this space allowing users to avail the plethora of options to choose from both local and international manufacturers. According to Technavio, the online home decor market in India is expected to grow at a CAGR of 50.42 per cent in revenue by 2019. Some of the other big players in this segment include Livspace, Homelane, Urbanladder, Fabfurnish, Pepperfry, Furlenco and Nestopia.
Livspace raised $4.6 million Series A funding led by Helion Venture Partners and Bessemer Venture Partners, HomeLane raised $4.5 million Series A funding from Sequoia Capital and Aarin Capital. FabFurnish is mainly funded by Rocket Internet and Kinnevik. Pepperfry raised $15 million in the third round of funding. Furlenco raised $6 million from Lightbox Ventures.
Although Renomania claims to be India’s first and the only content platform for home design, it would be too early to comment on the growth prospect, where a number of companies have already been dominating the online home decor space. In order to create differentiation, the startup will have to dig out more on what consumers want beyond the existing offerings in the market.
"Unlike other home decor players, Renomania's core focus is on offering design ideas featuring real photographs from Indian homes; we're not a transactions-first platform. There is a huge difference in our business model compared to others who just use content to drive transactions while their primary motive is to sell furniture," says Rahul.