Open Talk @DSIM
An Interview with Ajith Mohan Karimpana, Founder & CEO at Furlenco.com
Furlenco is India’s first home furniture rental company based in Bangalore. Furlenco offers a range of furniture for rentals to help individuals set up home. As part of their service they rent out premium furniture with matching furnishings and decor on a monthly subscription fee.
Q1. Hi Ajith and welcome. How would you describe “Furlenco” in under 50 words?
Ans. Furlenco is a new concept in the furniture space that has made furnishing a home quick, easy and affordable.
The service also includes free doorstep delivery and installation making it extremely convenient and hassle-free to furnish your home. Our service promises deliveries within 72 hours of an order being placed with the flexibility to swap/return furniture annually based on need.
With this concept, Furlenco has finally made immediate access to a great-looking home a convenient reality.
Q2. Nice concept Ajith. How did you come up with the concept for “Furlenco.com”? Why did you think of calling the venture, Furlenco?
Ans. I was working as a VP for Goldman Sachs in US, and while moving back to Bengaluru, I had to sell my $5,000 worth of furniture for little over $300 on a fire sale. That’s when I first experienced the perils of relocation – having to sell furniture. But to my dismay, I had to once again go through the harrowing experience of buying furniture from local vendors in Bengaluru.
This is exactly when it became clear to me that there is an opportunity to introduce the ‘rental furniture’ concept to India. As a result, Rent Ur Duniya was born (later rebranded to Furlenco) in 2012. The name Furlenco was derived for purely branding purposes.
Q3. Ajith, what is the secret ingredient to be successful in such a crowded market as Furlenco? What`s special about your services to attract customer?
Ans. There are approximately 1.45 crore households of the TG we are targeting in India. Revenue-wise it’s a billion dollar per year category. And to tell you frankly there are not many players in the market to cater to this huge potential growing consumer segment.
The existing players are normally aggregators and do not own inventory, and also, they are not a design-led company like ours. Also, the uniqueness of our business model is that we provide you with an entire solution for your home furniture needs. Which means all our furniture is accompanied by matching soft furnishing and home decor to complete the look of your home.
Apart from that we provide services like free swapping of furniture every six months so that you get a new look for your home every six months, free cleaning services every six months, free relocation of our furniture if you are relocating within the city or to a new city where we are operational (Bangalore, Mumbai or Pune).
We want our customers to use our furniture as their own without the tension of buying it and therefore we also cover them for a damage waiver up to Rs.10000/-
Q4. Wonderful approach! What are the most effective ways for a company to promote itself online? What does digital marketing do for your business?
Ans. The first touch point for any e-commerce company is digital and therefore, digital marketing plays a huge part in our marketing plans. As, our TG belong in the age group of 22-35 years and almost all of them are quite active on digital platforms, it becomes easy for us to grab their attention.
Q5. Ajith, do you have any plans/future goals (personal or business) that you can share with us?
Ans. I personally believe that no one should own furniture. In the next 10 years we want to be the ‘Pioneers’ of shared economy. Anything and everything that can be shared from furniture to home, appliances to vehicles etc. will be provided by us.
Anything and everything that can tie you down to heavy financial investments will be provided to you on rental basis making your life hassle-free and easy.
Q6. Ajith, do you think that entrepreneurialism is something that is in your blood? Or is it something that can be learned?
Ans. I do not belong to a family of businessmen, however, situation and opportunities created the entrepreneurial bug in me. Over time, the bug grew bigger and bigger and I took the plunge.
Q7. If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what business related advice would you give yourself?
Ans. Get your team right. Never compromise on whom you work with. The best ones won’t come cheap. But that doesn’t mean the most expensive ones are the best. You just have to keep looking until you find the best to work on your problem statement.
Q8. If the Internet had not existed – what do you think you would be doing?
Ans. I think I still would have created Furlenco. The tech part of the business was an evolution rather than the initial premise.
Q9. What are 3 things you’ve told yourself that kept you going during your darkest hours?
Ans. 1. Starting up must be this hard. If I can survive this, I can survive anything.
2. Patience and perseverance is key
3. I need to set aside my ego and hire people smarter than me.
Q10. Ajith, what advice would you give to a Young Entrepreneur setting up their first business?
Ans. Business in India cannot be built in 1 or 2 years especially if you are solving fundamental product or services. (In other words business is non-tech). You need to be ready for the long haul. Businesses in India will take anywhere between 7-10 years to reach a sizeable scale.Chase customers not investors. You get customers right, you will get the investors.
“It was really nice talking to you Ajith, DSIM wish you luck for your future. Much obliged to you for giving the valuable time.”