Indian furniture retail is valued at being the 14th largest furniture market in the world and is said to be a $10 Bn market which is expected to see multifold growth in near future.
The entry of several startups like UrbanLadder, Fabfurnish, Pepperfry have boosted furniture retail in the country and are pushing growth in this dynamic sector. When people buy furniture apart from touch and feel factor they also want to add up some sort of customisation to the furniture they want in their house which blends with their house well. This is where concept of customized furniture comes in, this trend has led to more and more startups coming up in this space. Just last month, India’s first rental subscription program for furniture, Furlenco gathered $6 Mn in Series A from Lightbox, few days back UrbanLadder grabbed $50 Mn. With VC pouring huge sums in this sector, many startups have pop up in this space and so is Mumbai-based StitchWood.com, which is all set to serve this domain.
Stitchwood is a Custom made online furniture platform has recently raised $100k is now close to $750K in funding from angel investors.
Founded in 2014 by two IIT-Bombay alumni Ajit Shegaonkar and Vikas Nair, StitchWood offers the customer an experience to customise furniture and even upload pictures or designs of any they wish designed for them. When a customer places an order, it is outsourced to a vendor. The company’s quality check team monitors the product’s manufacturing, at the vendor’s factory.
It all started when Ajit Shegaonkar decided to get a personal wardrobe done, and it wasn’t a very palatable experience for him. Going through the rigour of designing and dealing with branded vendor, interior designers to unprofessional carpenters made him realise this was a highly underserved area.
Online home furniture in five years will be 15-20% of the furniture industry, which means roughly $1.5-$2 Bn.
“When was the last time we had a great experience getting our furniture made from a carpenter. But then do readymade furniture take care of our basic needs for dimensional fit, functional needs or aesthetic we expect of our furniture ? We at Stitchwood aim to take care of an Indian client’s need for customised furniture while offering a great experience both while buying and using the furniture,” said Ajit Shegaonkar.
Currently, the website offers customisation options only for sofas — Standard, Comfort, Sectional, Slimline, ChesterField and Tuxedo. However, in a few months, it would add other seating options like ottomans, benches, armchairs, recliners, rocking chairs etc. After that, it would be dining tables and beds, and finally wardrobes and other storage like shoe-racks, bar units, bookshelves etc.
So far, StitchWood has tied up with five vendors in Mumbai and ramping up to 10 in a month. Besides, the startup also plans to tap the opportunity in Pune, Ahmedabad and Delhi in coming future. It claims to have 350 unique users on daily basis with an average ticket size INR 50,000. While he denied sharing the revenue cut with the vendors.
“Globally, there is a trend towards online mass customisation businesses getting seeded in various categories like shoes, jewelry and furniture. We consider this as the next wave of ecommerce, which we want to be a part of,” said Vikas Nair.
In terms of customised furniture available online startups like LivSpace and Customfurnish are also there, while, Livspace is more focused on home/room improvement, not so much on customizing individual pieces of furniture, on the other side Customfurnish is more focused on building a large furniture manufacturing capacity
“StitchWood solves a uniquely Indian problem. It’s an ecommerce website that has a strong offline component. Once they crack this nut, it should give them a strong competitive advantage; and this is the right team to be able to crack it.” said Ajeet Khurana, who is an investor in Stitchwood.
While the concept of customised furniture available online is not something new, thus Switchwood is going to face a tough competition from already established players. But, however, the market size of this segment will definitely be a positive factor to help it scale.
Let’s have a look at other startups in this domain which got funded recently:
CustomFurnish.Com : The custom-made furniture etailer, CustomFurnish.com had raised INR 16 Cr. in funding from Serial entrepreneur and MedPlus Group founder Madhukar Gangadi.
UrbanLadder: Online furniture retailer UrbanLadder had raised $50 Mn in a new round of funding led by Sequoia Capital alongwith TR Capital and its existing investors including Steadview Capital, SAIF Partners and Kalaari Capital.
Furlenco: The Bangalore-based online furniture startup, Furlenco had raised $6 Mn in a Series A funding round led by LightBox VC. Founded by by Ajith Karimpana, it first rental subscription program for furniture, the startup offers themed furniture experiences on rent which include furniture, soft furnishing and home decor items.
LivSpace: Bangalore-based home design and decor startup, LivSpace had secured INR 29 Cr. in Series A round of funding led by Helion Venture Partners, Bessemer Venture Partners and Jungle Ventures. Recently, the startup has also acquired Bangalore-based DezignUp, a dynamic design community and marketplace for design professionals.