Serial entrepreneur Natasha Jain is creating a niche in online home décor with Bent Chair
Bent Chair follows an omni-channel approach including selling online, creating a marketplace, and selling offline through pop-ups via a Bent Chair studio and the franchise model.
Born in Ambala and brought up in Delhi, 29-year-old Natasha Jain always aspired to be an engineer and manufacture something using technology. Naturally inclined towards aesthetics, she was inspired by the innovations in furniture design she saw in the US, where she lived for a few years, and decided to bring that innovation to India.
Since the online home décor and furniture market is no longer a niche segment, differentiation and a competitive edge are imperative. Keeping this in mind, Natasha started Bent Chair in Delhi in August 2016. The startup conceptualises, designs, and manufactures its own products, and sells them using an omni-channel approach including selling online, creating a marketplace, and selling offline through pop-ups via a Bent Chair studio and the franchise model.
Bent Chair has five manufacturing facilities in Ambala that also have space for assembly, storage, and testing of finished products. Additionally, four facilities have been set up for polishing, carving, weaving and painting of Bent Chair products.
The company has also decided to offer to its customers online customisation of products. Says Natasha,
Bent Chair has its roots in engineering and technology and follows a very methodological approach towards its products. Through its expansion plans in the coming months, Bent Chair is creating a platform for Indian artisans and craftsmen to get global exposure and recognition for their work. We use technology like plasma vapour deposition, which no other furniture manufacturing unit in India currently uses.
The holder of a master’s degree in management science and engineering from Stanford University and a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Natasha has always had a knack for entrepreneurship.
While she has successfully set up supply chain systems for her family business, in 2011, during her time at Stanford, she started Fresh Mentors to provide online mentoring to college applicants. After moving back to India from Silicon Valley, Natasha launched Ruplee, an app designed to ease the way we pay, in 2014. Her love for technology and aesthetics is what drives her to curate some of the trendiest accessories from across the globe for Bent Chair.
Serial entrepreneurship does help
Having started her career with the family business, where she was responsible for operations and supply chain management of four major manufacturing plants, starting a venture of her own was not particularly difficult for Natasha.
Natasha invested Rs 9 crore, earned from her previous ventures, for setting up the manufacturing units, design studio, web technology, backend, as well as brand building. Approximately Rs 5 crore was spent on setting up the manufacturing facilities. Says Natasha,
Materials are sourced from various vendors, both locally and internationally. Every material that comes into the factory goes through a quality inspection process and post approval is used in manufacturing of the products. Everything from wood to upholstery to finishes, paints, material for weaving, brass components etc. is sourced through select vendors across the country.
Bent Chair works with 100 artisans and designers. The hiring process for designers includes a demonstration of work samples and skill sets, and maybe a task to perform.
Bent Chair's inventory of more than 1,000 items across furniture and home décor accessories is priced anywhere between Rs 1,000 and Rs 3 lakh. According to Natasha, the monthly revenue from all the channels stands at an average of Rs 1 crore.
Going by the asset-light franchise model
The next one year will see Bent Chair expanding into China, Canada, Singapore, Dubai, and Australia. There are plans to open a retail store by end-August in 2018 and focus on online sales in Singapore, Dubai, and Australia.
“We are not only self-funded but also profit-making and expect to churn revenues of Rs 25–30 crore over the next year. And in India, 30–35 retailers based in metro and tier-1 cities like Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Pune, Jaipur, and Bhopal will adopt Bent Chair products as franchisees in the coming year,” says Natasha.
Bent Chair currently has 100 employees, with 40 people working in the marketing and web technology wing in Delhi. The company is now looking for funding to achieve its goal of rapid, sustainable growth.
According to Technavio, the online home decor market in India is expected to grow at a CAGR of 50.42 percent in revenue by 2019. While Pepperfry and Urban Ladder were the early movers and have the upper hand in the space with marketplace and inventory models respectively, companies like Homelane, Furlenco, and Netsopia have also made their presence felt.
Apart from these established companies, the online furniture space has seen new players like Gozefo, Homefuly, Helpmebuild, and Homestudio. Amidst huge competition in the market, Bent Chair will have to work hard if it is to make a mark.
Website: Bent Chair