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Categorizing The Furniture Rental Concept

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Ajith Mohan Karimpana, CEO, Founder, Furlenco

Ajith Mohan Karimpana, Founder and CEO of Furlenco, India's first online furniture rental marketplace is an entrepreneur who wishes to turn this novel concept into a successful global category. He shoulders the responsibility of the organisation’s strategic growth and business development. An engineering graduate from the National Institute of Technology, Jalandhar, Ajith has done his masters in Computer and Information Science from Temple University, Philadelphia, besides a fellowship program on entrepreneurship from Startup Leadership Program. With a strong team of 115 members in just 4 years since inception, Ajith envisions elevating the living standards of urban Indian consumers who seek affordable and convenientsolutions for a good-looking home

What drives you?
The desire to make renting furniture a way of life drives me. To elaborate, today people are very uncertain in their lives. The tendency to own cars, furniture, house, appliances is not a priority since they are constantly on the move. Furlenco provides the basic necessities like a bed, sofa and appliances to such people without tying them down to any commitments. We give them an option to live luxuriously; rent furniture instead of spending heavily on buying furniture that they may not need after a year or so. You can spend Rs 50,000 on a phone and keep it in your pocket and roam about, travel, move to another city. But you cannot do that with furniture. Also, young people are fond of change and get bored very quickly. Renting furniture from a portal like ours allows them to redecorate their homes to give it a whole new look with our range of packages. Furlenco believes in “Have Everything, Buy Nothing”. We want our customer to enjoy luxurious furniture without being tied down to any contract.

How big is the potential for a business like yours; any statistics to compare with international standards?
The Indian furniture market is pegged at Rs 65000-70000 crore out of which, 10-15% is in the organised sector. We are the first organized player in India in the furniture rental industry. From 180 houses in 2015, we are now nearing 6000 houses in 2016. We have also expanded to Mumbai and Pune recently. Almost 99% of customers are individuals although a small segment of Corporates do get furniture packages from Furlenco as an add-on benefit in their remuneration packages. By the end of 2016, we want to do 15000+ homes across 3 cities. The US based Cort has a similar concept, but the differentiating factor is that Furlenco is a completely design-led company and rentals are completely done online.

How do you plan to scale up; raise funds through seed or venture capital or simply grow the old fashioned way through rising turnovers?
Like every company, initially one has to take Venture Capital and debt to prop up and set the company. However ours being a unit economics focused company we will ultimately ride ahead like any other company which is profitable.

Who would primarily be your consumer audience?
Anybody who is a home buff between the ages of 22-40 is our customer. It could be anyone from an early jobber to a married couple or family with little kids staying in rented or owned homes.

Where do you see yourself five years down the road?
In real life, people first rent their furniture and then buy it. Furlenco wants to create a niche in the market where people only think about renting furniture.  We want to be the 'Pioneers' of the shared economy. Anything and everything that can tie down a customer to heavy financial investments will be provided on rental basis, making life hassle-free and easy. We will soon be in Delhi and also in Tier 2 cities in the future. The online furniture industry has grown tremendously in the last few years. If you look at it from the industry point, for the urban millennial, checking out furniture online has become their first port of call rather than offline. It will only grow bigger in the coming years.

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