If Mountain View, California is where Kanpur-born Anuj Srivastava learnt the business of internet, India is where he is putting his learning to test.
Srivastava is changing the way people design and decorate their homes, without bothering about interior designers and where to buy the furniture. The icing on cake is Livspace builds your home in at least one-fourth the time it would otherwise take. The former head of product marketing at Google is now the CEO and co-founder of Livspace, the interior design marketplace for homeowners and designers.
Livspace provides a catalogue of designs for living areas, bedrooms, kitchens, and bathrooms, which Srivastava sells as e-commerce. He has created styles using furniture, wallpapers and furnishings to create 17,000-18,000 layouts.
If someone buys a particular design, she gets the products, as well. “We have put together standard e-commerce experience and visualization technology to replicate the looks of a room,” said Srivastava.
Opened less than a year ago, Livspace has already done 1,000 rooms, and an equal number of rooms are in the pipeline. It has also raised $12.6 million, during a time when funds are drying up for e-commerce companies. “That’s also because Bangalore (where Livspace started) is already operationally profitable,” said Srivastava, who is following a city-wise model. Livspace is present only in Bangalore and Delhi.
If the floor layout on Livspace’s website or app doesn’t match her requirement, a person is sent to make the floor plan. Also, buyers can customise depending on their choices. But, the designing, installation, and consultation is provided free of cost. Srivastava makes money from the products sold with the designs.
Margins are in tune of 30-40%. “That is because we do bulk business with about 150 vendors,” said Srivastava. For paints its Asian Paints, for kitchen its Space Wood and Hettich, for wallpapers its 3M and Marshall, for curtains D-Décor, and for rugs, Rugs Republic.
LivSpace is the biggest, but Srivastava has competition. Selling just furniture is a commodity business, with biggies like Flipkart, Snapdeal, Amazon and Paytm entering it.
Recently, Urban Ladder, another online furniture store has started providing interior decoration, but not at LivSpace’s scale, which has an average order size of Rs 10-12 lakh for every customer.
Eventually, Srivastava wants to take Livspace abroad. “There should be one Ikea and one Livspace… so, if you want to buy a couch or bed you can go to UrbanLadder or PepperFry, but come to us if you want to build a home,” he said.
Over 60% of Livspace’s orders come for doing up the complete house, only 10-15% for individual furniture and 25% buy one single room. And, Srivastava is barely scratching the surface of a $15-20 billion industry.