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So, are you planning to transform your house into your dream home? And for that you need to call carpenter 100 times a day and further rely on the interior designers. Veteran entrepreneur Srikanth Iyer and four of his friends went through the same hassle of dealing with carpenters, suppliers and interior designers to get their home furnished which ended up in giving them a harrowing experience. Together with his friends, he chalked out a way to simplify the process, cut down costs and provide with an efficient and specialized interiors solution to home-builders by establishing his own venture-- ‘HomeLane’.
“Dealing with this completely unorganized market was very troublesome for me and that’s where I saw a scope to organize a segment, which was completely chaotic and it comprised carpenters and brick-and-mortar furniture stores which is hugely labour-intensive, with overall delivery and quality standards being poor, and timelines were hardly met in most cases. That’s how the idea to start-up HomeLane kicked in,” said Srikanth Iyer, Co-founder, HomeLane.
HomeLane is an organized tech-based solution for semi-furnishing market in India. Following a hybrid model, a startup guarantees home owners, asset-light furnishing solutions which rely on technology and lean manufacturing with customizable, home setup solutions including kitchens, wardrobes and entertainment units.
Being a team of over 200 employees, startup enables its customers to choose the designs, fixtures and customized fittings online, which are delivered by HomeLane’s operations team. It further offers its customers an industry-first 45-day delivery guarantee. Further, HomeLane has recently launched a VR-based device called Kaleido which enables users to envision different looks for kitchens, bedrooms and living rooms in real time, thus helping them make an informed home decor choice.
Currently operating in Bengaluru, Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Kochi, the startup aims to expand to other metros and to tier II and III cities shortly. The venture aims to become one-stop solution for all home-furnishing needs and design consultation. “While our core business will be to offer customized fixed furnishings, because of the huge demand in the market we have also ventured into additional home design services like furniture, lightings and more. However, we don’t provide home to these additional services as a stand-alone offering,” said Iyer.
Currently, closing orders worth $1million a month, the startup expects it to grow to $5 million in the next six months.
In conversation with Entrepreneur India, Iyer talks about his entrepreneurial journey and what are his plans for the future growth.
Specify your professional background and how it helped in your venture?
Previous to HomeLane, I founded two startups in the ed-tech space, Edurite and Diksha Technologies. Later, TutorVista acquired Edurite and I joined TutorVista as its CEO. When Pearson made its foray into India, they acquired TutorVista and I joined Pearson as their India CEO.
What challenges did you face while taking your product to the market?
With HomeLane, we wanted to make home furnishing a seamless and enjoyable experience. The whole concept of furnishing homes with complete transparency and more importantly in a timely manner with quality products and quality service was a welcome change for new homeowners. Consequently, we found great market acceptance right from the start.
Other companies dealing in your space are acquiring certain apps or a venture. Do elaborate on that as well.
In June this year, we launched our tech-based VR offering, HomeLaneKaleido, which is a décor-envisioning tool. The Kaleido is an important part of HomeLane’s ‘showroom in a box’ philosophy. By using this, Google Cardboard powered immersive device along with other tools, the company is trying to bring the emporium to the buyer’s doorstep; thus bridging the gap between imagination and reality.
At HomeLane, we are making constant endeavors to strengthen our home visualization offerings and to take another step forward in this direction. We recently acquired a virtual home-décor platform Doowup, a tech-start-up and its expertise lies in defining the future of retail consumer experience through disruptive visualization technology.
This acquisition, therefore, will significantly boost HomeLane’s technology play for life-like home illustrations. This is definitely a step further to HomeLane’s fundamental goal to make dream home furnishing an enjoyably simple and time-efficient experience for all new homebuyers.
Do you think acquisition is one of the fastest ways to scale operations?
I believe acquisitions are good only when they are done to further the strategic objectives of the business. One must ensure the two companies complement each other’s capabilities and also find a great cultural fit in each other.
How HomeLane is different from other companies catering in the same sector?
At HomeLane, we are solving the interior design problem with technology. We promise transparency, timeliness and quality execution and we stand by it. Most middle-class customers cannot afford to hire a bonafide interior designer for furnishing their homes. HomeLane is bringing access to interior designers to this segment for the first time.
A customer will choose HomeLane to get a high-quality modular kitchen, a wardrobe, an entertainment wall unit (or any other fixed furniture) designed, made and installed at her home within 45 days of ordering. If the delivery is not made in 45 days, HomeLane would pay the rent.
If we look at the figures, organized tech-based solution for semi-furnishing market in India is pegged to be close to $10 billion in market size in 2015. Sensing the opportunity, startups like LivSapce, Urbanladder, FabFurnish, PepperFry and many more have started entering into this space.