[The Turning Point] Leaving a plum job at Goldman Sachs to starting a furniture rental startup – the story of Furlenco
Furniture rental startup Furlenco was started to cater to the needs of urban Indian youth who not only believe in keeping up with the changing trends, but also move houses and cities for jobs and other reasons.
Back in 2011, Ajith Mohan Karimpana was working as a Vice President at Goldman Sachs in New York. After having spent more than five years in the company, he moved back to India to head one of the company’s verticals out of its Bengaluru office.
While Goldman Sachs offered Ajith with the option to help him with the relocation, Ajith went for the other option where the company provided him with the relocating money and he managed the rest himself.
“Personally, it was a bad decision,” Ajith regrets. He sold all his furniture for practically nothing. Having spent up to $6,000 to buy them, Ajith sold them off at dirt cheap price of less than $300.
Ajith Mohan Karimpanna, CEO, Furlenco
Back to base
After returning to India in 2011, Ajith went ahead and bought whatever furniture was available at the local stores. “The online players were not available then, and I had no idea about the furniture market in India,” he says.
At the end of the first year itself, while moving to a new house, the furniture started breaking. The process of spending, buying, reselling, and buying again only to realise the poor quality of the furniture had to be taken care of.
“I wondered if we could have furniture as a product or service kind of philosophy and that was my eureka moment,” he adds.
Driven by his gumption and knowledge, Ajith quit his job at Goldman Sachs and founded Rent Ur Duniya in October 2011.
“Rent Ur Duniya didn’t sound like a billion-dollar company, and it was colloquial. And right from the beginning, I had global ambitions, and we did a rebranding exercise and launched Furlenco in 2012,” he says.
Starting up was also a life-changing experience for him. While he had people reporting to him at Goldman Sachs, three months later, in 2011, Ajith was at a customer’s house, fixing the legs of a sofa set.
“I was in a cushiony air-conditioned office in a leading role, and suddenly I was standing outside a customer’s house and fixing their sofa. That was the first awakening of sorts – I realised this was a long run from here on. It was humbling and I always enjoyed it for the level of satisfaction it brought with it,” he says.
Over the years, with equal number of highs – customers appreciating the service, to lows – getting caught on the road by a Sales Tax Officer for not having a proper invoice, Furlenco has come a long way.
Growing at a CAGR of 130 percent over the years, Furlenco is now set to cross the $300 million mark in net subscription revenue by 2023, from its current $25 million. It has so far served more than 80,000 customers across Delhi, Bengaluru, Gurugram, Chennai, Mumbai, Noida, Hyderabad and Pune.
When asked about the emotional and lineage connect that is associated with furniture being passed down generations, Ajith says he believes furniture is a liability and one shouldn’t invest much on it.
He says,“Why own a liability when you can pay a monthly fee and keep upgrading throughout your life?”