[The Turning Point] The personal touches that make a house a home: story of Pepperfry
Unlike our fathers and forefathers, us millennials have a tendency to shift jobs and cities. Thanks to 21st century trends - 'settling down' and 'getting comfortable' is not what most of us look forward to.
But we have to face the inevitable. Everytime we change cities, how do we ensure we make the new rented house or office quarter, our 'home?'
"You cannot change the doors, windows, or tiles. But you can make comfortable nooks inside and give a character to the house using furniture. Your personal touch converts a house into your home," says Ambareesh Murty, Founder of Pepperfry.
Ambareesh Murty, Founder of Pepperfry
Building from personal experiences
Ambareesh’s family had to shift houses quite often as his mother was a government employee and her job involved a lot of transfers.
He remembers that the family shifted seven houses in the first 20 years of his life. These houses were either government accommodation or rented.
"What we did inside the house made them special. There was a time when we wouldn't have a bed in a bedroom. It would be a multi-functional room where the family would sit together and discuss a bunch of things while sitting on the floor or a cotton mattress. But that nook was very valuable for us," Ambareesh adds.
Growing up, he developed a deep value for every place that he stayed at and how he made them his own. Unfortunately, he says, "more often than not, I never found anything to make it my own," he says.
The same pattern continued later in Ambareesh's life. He got married 15 years ago and since then, the couple has changed another seven houses.
He fondly remembers that when he got married, the only thing his wife and he bought with the Rs 15,000 cash they received as a wedding gift was a piece of furniture - a book-shelf.
"This was a massive trigger. I realised that everyone should be able to buy whatever furniture they wish to," Ambareesh says.
This feeling accelerated when Ambareesh realised that more than going out and meeting friends on weekends, he preferred sitting on his comfortable sofa, covered with a quilt, watching the rain and reading a book.
"It doesn't matter if I don’t have people to talk to or friends to go out with and enjoy myself. What really matters is if I can drive self-sufficiency inside my house," Ambareesh says.
It was on one of those rainy days that the idea of Pepperfry hit the former eBay employee.
Ambareesh co-founded the online home and furniture marketplace Pepperfry with Ashish Shah in 2012. Today, Pepperfry is one of the leading players in the market, and has raised $200 million, and provides its customers with a wide selection of furniture and home products.
Building on belief
Interestingly, while starting up, Ambareesh had not decided on a name for his startup. He updated his LinkedIn status with 'starting up', without providing any kind of details about his venture.
"At that point, some 100 people contacted me saying that they wanted to be a part of my venture. The core of Pepperfry was formed with five to six from those 100 people," he says.
"My value of what interiors bring to the table was always very high and that was core to the founding of Pepperfry," Ambareesh adds.
He believes that some pieces of furniture hold a sentimental value in our lives. For him, it is a chest of drawers that has been in the family since ages. Currently, it stores his son’s toys.
"I can tell you the story behind every scratch in that piece of furniture. And that's what makes it so special - a rented furniture doesn't get that for you,” he says.
(Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan)