[Startup Bharat] In the times of Pepperfry and UrbanLadder, Jaipur’s Wooden Street is bringing customised furniture to the world
Siblings and cousins Lokendra Singh Ranawat, Dinesh Pratap Singh, and Virendra Singh Ranawat along with their friend Vikas Baheti had realised one thing when they were looking at the world of furniture – the need for customised furniture would never die. Even with the different online platforms, they knew the need for personalisation would always be there. And hence, they started Wooden Street in Jaipur in 2015.
The startup had started with an initial investment of Rs 5 lakh, and over the past four years, it has pumped in Rs 60 to 80 crore. For the first two years, the business was bootstrapped until it raised its first funding in 2017.
In its Series A funding, the online furniture startup raised $1 million from the Rajasthan Venture Capital Funds (RVCF) – an investor in NASDAQ-listed Yatra.com.
The startup makes an annual revenue of Rs 24 crore, and has over eight lakh visits on its website every month. It is now aiming to hit a revenue of Rs 50 crore in 2020. It operates at a gross margin close to 30 percent across 100 cities and 20 experience stores.
Starting with 10 team members in Jaipur, Wooden Street now has a team of 300 employees, and works with over 100 artisans and 15 interior designers. It has built and sold over 10,000 varieties of furniture across different categories. The startup has over 25 experience stores across 15 major cities in India. Some of Wooden Street’s experience stores are in Mumbai, Jaipur, and the Delhi-NCR region.
“Along with this, we have kicked off our global expansion within the United Kingdom, setting up the first international experience store in London. The first phase of expansion will be followed by the second base in the USA,” says Lokendra.
What does it do?
Wooden Street provides affordable furniture in a variety of styles, with a focus on innovation and better utility. The startup bypasses the middlemen to cut additional costs and manufactures the furniture itself.
Lokendra has always believed that the ecommerce industry is led by personalisation, which prompts consumers to seek out a product that is relatable to them. People want to have a personal connection with their possessions; they want a bond that reflects their personality, the Co-founder says.
However, when the founders researched the furniture market, they found out a rather bland mix of run-of-the-mill and one-size-fits-all units.
“There was a void for giving people a say in how their furniture looks and functions like. We decided to make customisation mainstream, and hence Wooden Street was formed,” Lokendra adds.
Setting up the supply-chain
Making bespoke furniture available to everyone has never been easy. During the initial years, Lokendra says that the hardships intensified. The biggest challenge was the supply-chain management. When the startup began its journey, it had partnered with multiple companies to help in the department.
“But as time went by, we created an innovative supply-chain management model to overcome our shortcomings. This included logistics, delivery, and installation of furniture across the country. We also created certain modules to manage and track in-house developments along with the development of artisans, to better equip them in tackling various tasks with ease,” Lokendra explains.
How does it work?
The startup largely operates on a web-based revenue model along with an omnichannel network of virtual and physical presence. The target customer usually involves middle to upper-middle-class individuals.
All the products that Wooden Street offers are present on its website along with their prices and an interface to request for customisation. Since customisation is not limited to a specific group of people or the products for that matter, anyone can purchase furniture from Wooden Street and have it customised to their heart’s content.
The startup focusses on a unique blend of premium-quality wood and the flexibility of customisation. This is what gives Wooden Street an edge over other furniture startups in the market, Lokendra says.
“From fabrics to wood finishes and space-saving features, customisation is like adding a new dimension, not only to the appearance but also the functionality, so that the product matches your interiors and personality,” Lokendra adds.
The website houses a wide range of products in various categories, helping people in navigating to the kind of furniture they are looking for. Once a customer finds the right product, they can buy it as-is from the website or request for customisation.
This can either be in the form of aesthetic transformations such as fabric types, colours or prints, and wood finishes, or it can involve alterations in the dimensions or functionality, to fit the bill.
Subsequently, when an order enters the production stage, it is built from the ground up to match a customer’s specific interests. This involves the use of premium-quality materials and rigorous quality inspections, to ensure that the products meet industry standards and are ideal for use.
Finally, the manufactured products are delivered to the customer through the startup’s vast logistics network, covering more than a hundred cities across India.
Competition and future
Currently, Wooden Street competes with the likes of UrbanLadder and PepperFry. The latter has 10,000 sellers, of which 3,500 sellers get orders every month. Pepperfry also owns 370 trucks, has close to 1,000 delivery executives, and 250 carpenters working on assembly.
Speaking of its future plans, Lokendra says,
“We’re heavily geared towards a domestic and international expansion. We already have more than 25 experience stores across India, a number that we aim to make 50+ in the next 24 months.”
(Edited by Suman Singh)