A Pinterest living room, replete with chintz curtains, a sturdy glass-top coffee table, and that luscious rug your feet can sink into on mornings when the marble floor is too cold to your liking. Everyone redoing their house or moving into a new one can find ideas everywhere, but getting it set up just right requires more than just inspiration. Gharcentre was established to help such people go about their home improvement projects. The platform acts as the user's personal interior designer for different parts of the house, and guides her with finding products from stores in her location, even to the extent of getting the user in touch with the right experts to execute these designs.
Gharcentre acts as a blend of the online and offline worlds, in that it allows retailers to compete in the online e-retail market while helping increase footfall in their stores. It also claims to give exposure to professionals in the field – interior designers and architects, thus getting them more clients.
Founded by 26-year-old Abhay Raheja, Jeevan Srivastava is another key member at Gharcentre. Abhay is a DPS RK Puram alumnus, which he followed up with a BTech in Electrical and Electronics Engineering degree from the Manipal Institute of Technology.
He has over three years of experience running his own startup Avant Solutions, which is into building new-age technology and energy efficiency. Jeevan, on the other hand is the software and backend developer at Gharcentre and is the Technology Head there.
During his work in the home improvement industry, where Abhay interacted with some leading architects and interior designers, he realised that there was a huge gap in the market and the process of getting the home fully furnished was indeed a tedious process. Getting an interior designer on board is still perceived as a premium investment with very long timeframes, and the solutions available online fail to provide a complete home improvement solution. Moreover, buying high-end ticket value items such as furniture online still does not appeal to a major percentage of the consumers, as buyers still prefer to first check the look and feel of the products before making an investment.
We at Gharcentre decided to open the country’s first 360 degree home furnishing solution, from a marketplace for interior designers, home products and even execution experts,
The choice of the location was obvious – New Delhi, as the city provides the maximum footfall for the industry with the vast real estate available within Delhi and NCR regions.
Gharcentre also empowers storeowners with an online presence for their products. The benefit is immense – users now get to experience the products before buying, verifying build quality and look and feel, besides knowing the face at the other end of the transaction for such high ticket value items. All this, sitting right in the comfort of their own homes.
The home improvement sector is currently a $25-billion market with huge gaps in the online sector, both in terms of e-commerce home product selling or a service solution for the industry. Also, with the local stores losing out on business due to low exposure online, users are looking for a marketplace of quality products from trustworthy stores in their city along with affordable and standard interior design solutions.
How does it work
To get a design solution, one can browse through Gharcentre’s lookbook section that showcases pre-made designs from some of the top designers or stores, or request for a custom interior design. The user has to upload room layouts/pictures and the company’s team of designers will start work on the project immediately. Users stand the advantage of getting affordable interior design solutions from professional designers at standard rates along with all details required to execute the project.
Typically, interior designers end up spending a lot of time and resources on following up with potential leads, with a major chunk not converting. The founders say that Gharcentre helps get these professionals more clients and at the same time not waste resources to close a project.
Gharcentre has over 15,000 monthly visitors, with more than 30 percent of them subscribing to their platform. More than half of the users are returning users, leading to 20 percent conversions.
Target, revenue and potential of the market
This sector is yet to get saturated and thus the potential is great. Competition comes from platforms that are only selling or showcasing design ideas, like Zimply and Fabfurnish.
Bengaluru-based LivSpace and Hyderabad-based Foyr also provide interior design services.
HomeLane focuses on kitchen interiors and wardrobes.
Challenges for the company come in terms of talent management, scaling up operations, reliable logistic solutions for heavy items, and last-mile delivery solutions.
Gharcentre has raised their angel round of funding recently and are in talks with VC s for further funds. This 15-member team is backed by Raheja Developers since its inception.