For this Bengaluru startup, COVID-19 is the time to do interior design



a person sitting at a table using a laptop computer: For this Bengaluru startup, COVID-19 is the time to do interior design


© Pranav Hegde
For this Bengaluru startup, COVID-19 is the time to do interior design

Sequoia Capital and JSW Ventures-backed startup HomeLane is giving a fresh lease of life to interior design during COVID-19 using its proprietary 3D design technology platform called SpaceCraft.

“We work with the dimensions and the space you provide, incorporate the design layout you have chosen, and merge the ideas to show you how your finished home will look like,” Srikanth Iyer, CEO & Founder of the Bengaluru-based HomeLane.com, told Moneycontrol.

How does it work?

Once the design is finalised through the virtual meet, HomeLane designers will visit your home to take the measurements. Then, the actual work will start.

HomeLane has its team of designers, carpenters and other workers to carry out the task.

Since its COVID days now, the company is visiting homes only in those cities like Bengaluru and Chennai, where lockdown restrictions have been eased.

In cities like Mumbai and Delhi NCR, it is only taking virtual orders. The work will start when the lockdown is lifted or once housing societies allow outsiders in.

In order to ensure that virtual meetings are as effective as in-person meetings in showrooms, HomeLane has introduced a few changes to SpaceCraft, Iyer said.

For example, virtual showroom tours and product videos are used as a substitute to in-person visits to experience centres. Here, customers get to see the design expert’s profile and 100 percent visibility into their actions while using the tool (while selecting colours or material) to enable easy and transparent decision-making.

The pricing mechanism works likes this. “Virtually, when we design the floorplan and interiors selected by you, SpaceCraft will instantly show you the exact price. Depending on what you choose, the price will keep going up and down, just like a meter,” Iyer explained.

The company has a 45-day deadline for projects.

How is it faring during lockdown?

During the lockdown, when HomeLane’s experience centres remained closed, the company received more than 350 new orders, Iyer said.

“In terms of new orders, we have crossed 80 percent of the pre-COVID levels, and from a revenue perspective, we have crossed 100 percent,” Iyer said.

In fact, HomeLane designers have met more than 2,500 families online during the period.

The beginnings

HomeLane was founded in 2014 by Rama Harinath, Srikanth Iyer, and Vivek Parasuram.

Harinath was Vice President at TutorVista. He has also worked with Dell Hewelett-Packard and Cognizant. Currently, Iyer is also a venture partner at Unitus Ventures. He has had two past jobs including Co-Founder, Edurite Technologies at TutorVista. Parasuram is also a partner at Ravint Ventures. Prior to this, he was associated with Bello Interiors and New Dimensions.

HomeLane is backed by venture capital firms like Sequoia Capital, JSW Ventures, Accel Partners, Pidilite Group, Evolvence India Fund (EIF), and FJ Labs.

It offers personalised design service to customers through their panel of interior designers.

At present, it operates in 10 cities, including Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Delhi-NCR. It has 19 experience centres and more than 900 design experts on its tech platform.

The company operates two distribution models–franchisee and retail.

The interior-design market

The market for home interiors and renovation in India today is estimated to be between $20 billion-$30 billion, according to Inc42, a  media platform on startups.

HomeLane recorded Rs 230.4 crore operating revenues (unaudited) for the year ended March 31, 2020 — a growth of 130 percent over the Rs 99.95 crore during the previous fiscal.

It is targeting Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortisation (EBITDA) breakeven by April 2021. As part of the current rebranding exercise, the company has envisaged marketing spends of Rs 100 crore over the next one year.

In FY22, the franchisee model is expected to contribute 20 percent to the revenue, and the retail distribution model 15 percent.

According to the company’s research, consumer preferences have evolved following the increasing influence of international video content and wider access to information through the internet and frequent travelling.

This has resulted in Indian consumers raising the bar on home aesthetics.

“With the online home decor market gaining momentum in recent years, HomeLane’s technology-oriented approach has made interior designing much more approachable,” Iyer said.

Some of the other major startups operating in this segment are Urban Ladder, Pepperfry LivSpace, and FabFurnish.

Funds and expansion plan

On August 31, HomeLane raised Rs 60 crore in a Bridge round from new and existing investors. Stride Ventures led this round, and invested Rs 20 crore in the company.

Existing investors Accel Partners, Sequoia Capital, Evolvence India and JSW Ventures infused another Rs 40 crore.

With this round, HomeLane’s overall fund-raising crossed Rs 370 crore over the last six years. HomeLane will deploy the funds to enter new markets, with a greater focus on non-metros.

Part of the funds will also be deployed to upgrade Spacecraft.

When asked if the company plans to raise more funds, he said: “At the moment, we have raised enough money. To get to profitability, if at all we raise more money, it will be used for further expansion.”

Recently, the company unveiled its new brand identity. Iyer said that the rebranding initiative coincided with the company’s plans to scale up its operations through the franchisee and retail distribution model.

The two models will allow HomeLane to efficiently scale up operations from the current 10 cities to more than double its operational footprint covering over 25 markets by end of calendar year 2021.

Iyer said it will enable HomeLane a much better penetration into a sector primarily dominated by unorganised players.

In the last three months, the company has entered three new markets – Visakhapatnam, Mysore and Coimbatore.

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