“When I tried to design my home back in America, I realised that what should ideally be a fun, exciting experience actually results in a ton of frustration. And that’s the story worldwide,” starts Anuj Srivastava, the co-founder of Livspace, an end-to-end home design and décor service provider.
The traditional home design industry is very fragmented and the design process entails coordinating with various local vendors, visiting local markets on design-ideas-products hunt, paying hefty sums to interior designers for design consultations and, still not finding the right design or installation personnel for your dream project.
Launched in December 2014, Livspace is a curated marketplace for homeowners and home designers. As per the founder, Indian consumers today have a strong consumer appetite for a high-quality, personalised, and predictable experience in the home design and decor market segment and Livspace aims to be their one-stop solution.
With Livspace, customers can discover thousands of designs for all types of rooms, personalise the design – by colour, material, style – to their liking, and get the exact look for their homes in a matter of weeks.
Livspace already has hundreds of interior design looks and over 30,000 SKUs which are being personalised by homeowners on an everyday basis. The company has also seen employee numbers growing since launch, with rapid hiring in areas like technology, data science, design, and go-to-market.
From Frustration To Innovation: How Livspace Fits The Bill
Livspace was inspired by the combined frustrations of Anuj, and the other two co-founders, Ramakant Sharma and Shagufta Anurag, while getting their home designed and realising that instead of it being a fun, enjoyable experience — it was a nightmare.
“I had an apartment in San Francisco and while I used Houzz to find a designer, it literally took me nine months and lots of misery to get my home designed. Ramakant was here in India and had spent countless months with carpenters, designers — who’re not very well-trained, and visits to stores to finally get his kitchen and home design done. Meanwhile, Shagufta, while at Space Matrix, had worked with thousands of apartments through property builders and realised that this is a complicated problem and needs a smooth addressal,” recollects Anuj.
Anuj also saw etailers like One King’s Lane and Houzz in the US, which inspired the inception of his startup. The trio collectively thought if they could create an end-to-end experience where homeowners can discover thousands of great quality designs, personalise the designs to their liking, and then deck up their homes or the home design in weeks, it will be fun.
“We loved the idea, ran into RK (Ramakant) who is a technical genius, Shagu (Shagufta) is my sister-in-law besides being a design genius and an entrepreneur, and, given my experience building great internet products, we came together to put together, possibly, the world’s best team to solve this complicated problem of making homes everywhere look beautiful using the Internet,” says Anuj.
The most difficult part for the trio was to name the startup. They wanted a crisp, intelligible name for their brand. “It had to be evocative of design but not the inanimate kind, we wanted people to intuitively know that our designs are beyond pretty, they’re designed to be lived in, because that’s our design philosophy — to capture the needs and culture of different people and translate them through innovative design into a functional, productive and creative living environment. Livspace perfectly fits the bill,” recalls Anuj.
Your Personal Home Designer: From 2D to 3D
Livspace provides an end-to-end home design experience. It is like ‘your personal home designer’ online but — unlike traditional designers — do not charge for the look, the design service, or the last mile installation process. With Livspace, one only pays for buying home products including the furniture, services, and accessories. Everything else is free. So it provides, a fast, pleasant, home design experience which actually comes at an affordable price.
Talking about their technology, LivSpace has built inhouse technology. It has a team of engineers, data scientists, and product managers who employ a combination of data science, algorithms, and industrial design to create experiences for homeowners and scale up the job of interior designers.
Livspace designs allow interior designers to plan the space in 2D, on a floor plan. The same can be converted into a 3D design instantly at the click of a button. The designers can plan effectively and the homeowners can visualise effectively with a single, free tool on the cloud.
“One of our recent innovations was the launch of world’s first home design automation platform. The platform for the first time anywhere in the world, combines the ease and merit of ecommerce type purchases, algorithm-driven design content automation, platform capabilities of an AirBnB and Uber, plus the capabilities of design software you see from the likes of Adobe and Autodesk,” says Anuj.
Scaling Up Through Acquisitions
Leaving a high-paying job to become an entrepreneur has to be a calculated risk, an informed decision and Anuj did the same. He believes that staying patient, focussed, and passionate is the key to overcoming the challenges one faces during one’s journey.
“You’ve taken the leap for a reason; believe in that reason. Also, don’t be afraid to fail. One of the things that I learnt very early while launching products and scaling markets at Google and in Silicon Valley, was the notion of “failing fast.” The idea essentially is about knowing that if you’re trying a lot of new things, not everything will work, and you will not succeed at each of those ideas,” explains Anuj.
With this confidence and positive attitude Anuj today is aiming to tap into a-billion dollar market while competing with players like Pepperfry, Fabfurnish, UrbanLadder. However, for Anuj there are no direct competitors as of now.
“Livspace does not have any direct competitors with the exact same or similar model, as of now. Turn-key contractors, carpenters, and mom-and-pop interior design firms with an offline model, are our indirect competitors,” says Anuj.
“We found DezignUp, Dwll.in, YoFloor, and Klozee as complementary partners in our vision and made no delay in bringing them on board. Wherever possible, we will use acquisitions as a natural extension of our strategy. When there is a clear synergy, acquiring startups is surely a good way to scale fast with the right capabilities,” says Anuj.
The launch of the ‘home design automation platform’ in 2016 clearly spells out the reason behind all acquisitions made by Livspace.
“We acquired them to help us with our ambitious plans. We need tens of thousands of great quality ‘looks or room pictures’ that are created with the home design products and accessories on our curated catalog. We need access to a curated community of thousands of designers across India who can work with them to create a library of designer home looks in the country and, in succession, work with homeowners across the country that trust them to make their homes look exactly like the picture,” says Anuj.
Therefore, it was a no-brainer to acquire DezignUp —a design community and marketplace for design lovers and professionals and Dwll.in — a curated online network of interior designers available online, to partner with them in achieving its ambitions.
The acquisition of YoFloor helped the company to complement its home design platform strategy by building a productivity and 3D visualisation tool for designers and homeowners.
The $45 Bn Home Design and Decor Market
The home design and decor industry in India is witnessing hyper-growth and a sea change. And the metrics really speak for themselves.
According to Anuj, in India alone, the home design and decor market is poised to grow to over $45 Bn by 2017 from $13 Bn in 2010, fuelled by the 25% Y-o-Y growth in the organised retail sector. Of this, the modular kitchen, wardrobe, storage business itself will be over $10 Bn by 2017.
And when looking at the positioning of Livspace – it claims to be very different from the other players in the market.
“From the very onset, we, at Livspace, have been clear about our market position as India’s first and only end-to-end home design experience and curated marketplace for homeowners and designers. It essentially translates to treating ‘looks or spaces’ as a complete product as opposed to single pieces of furniture and decor items. This solves a big problem for the Indian consumer, looking to transform their complete house into a beautiful home, as opposed to just one corner, or replacing just a couch or a curtain,” says Anuj.
Growing From A team of 50 To 500 – What Next?
Touted as one of the fastest-growing companies in India, Livspace is now a company of over 500 strong employees. Its founding team combines talent and entrepreneurial experience gathered at companies like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Amazon, Flipkart, Adobe, Myntra, Ola, and Space Matrix. It has massively scaled since it started in December 2014.
“I remember having a small team of under 50 back then. I believe we’ve continually attracted the top talent in the country and we’re proud to foster an environment of entrepreneurship, autonomy, and growth. Everyone who chooses to work for Livspace realises that we have a huge opportunity here to solve the problem of home design.All around the world, it has never been attempted before at this scale. I personally believe in the strength of great teams and these teams are what make a company successful. I take great pride in the entire Livspace team,” opines Anuj.
With the vision to become the world’s largest home design brand online, Livspace aims to hit $2.5 Mn (INR 15 Cr) revenue per month with the introduction of the new platform in the current calendar year. The company claims that business is going to generate over $100 Mn revenue in the coming 24 months.
“Our vision really is to make Livspace one of the most innovative Internet and technology companies to come out of India and be a true technology and design innovator. Livspace has the opportunity to be the world’s largest home design brand online and we are confident of creating a billion-dollar company in the space,” says Anuj.
Over the next few months, LivSpace plans to grow across the top cities in India. It will be setting up offices across the country, expanding its designer community and will be driving the (home design automation) platform adoption to tens of thousands of designers. There are also plans to launch the online-to-offline home design experience through Livspace studios in three metros—Delhi-NCR, Bengaluru, and Mumbai. Furthermore, the team is working towards making international designers across the world be able to utilise the platform and work remotely with homeowners in India.
“We’re excited to work very closely with our channel partners and this would include developers, designer marketplaces like Dwll.in, DezignUp and others, and small studios to expand massively,” informs Anuj.
Across India, many families are now buying their first homes, getting their existing homes upgraded, or many who’re simply interested in making their homes look beautiful. In general, there is an increased consciousness of good home design that is created with passion and expertise, and products that look good are now personalised and can be easily acquired.
According to Anuj, this year alone, as many as 400,000 new homes will be bought across just the major metros. A vast majority of them will require design services, and installation of kitchens and wardrobes. Within the next two years, 4%-5% of this market is poised to move online.
Clearly, a cutting-edge leadership company can be created worth more than a billion dollar revenue in this space. And Livspace and its contemporaries are leveraging technology and aesthetics to capture a share of this billion dollar pie. Livspace has also already hit a multimillion dollar run rate. What remains to be seen, is what 2017 holds for the growing startup in terms of growth and revenue.
Note: We have updated the headline to accurately reflect the story, as well as unsubstantiated facts and figures, given by the founder.