#InTheSpotlight: Furlenco – an online furniture rental platform for urban millennials

The startup has raised $140 million in Series D led by Zinnia Global Fund this week.

In 2011, Ajith Mohan Karimpana was packing up his life in the United States after having quit his 5-year stint at Goldman Sachs to return home to Bengaluru in India. But when he tried finding new owners for the furniture – less than two years old – he had acquired for his house in New Jersey, to his dismay, he managed to get only pennies on the dollar: $300 for furniture worth $6,000.

Back in India, Karimpana knew little about the furniture market and went ahead with whatever was available at the local stores. One year on, while he was moving houses, the poor-quality furniture started to break.

This entire ordeal of buying and selling furniture got him thinking: what if one could have access to good-quality furniture minus the hassles that came from owning it.

Thus Furlenco was born with $100k in angel funding.

Earlier this week, the company raised $140 million in Series D led by Zinnia Global Fund. This is the 7-year-old furniture-rental platform’s incredible journey.

Launched in October 2011, the company was initially named ‘Rent Ur Duniya’. In just months, the new founder Karimpana’s life had taken a 180-degree turn. He had gone from being the vice president at a multinational company to fixing the legs of a customer’s sofa set.

“That was the first awakening of sorts – I realised this was a long run from here on. It was humbling and I always enjoyed it for the level of satisfaction it brought with it,” he said during a 2019 interview with YourStory.

Some months on, keeping the global market in mind, Karimpana did a rebranding exercise and launched Furlenco in 2012. It wasn’t simply a name-change exercise, he explained in an interview to the Economic Times.

“We actually changed our offerings making them more aligned to consumer's needs. We introduced pre-designed furniture packages, more products and also adjusted rental tenures to match the requirements of the market.”

In March 2015, the company raised around Rs 38 crore in Series A funding from Lightbox Ventures.

The startup initially targeted the expatriate market, and slowly started offering rental packages with the philosophy that one must never feel the need to own furniture. The idea was to cater to Indian millennials, who like their counterparts in the West, travelled and changed jobs frequently and thus were averse to ownership.

According to TechCrunch, the company “employs a large staff of designers to actually create better furniture from scratch. The pieces are designed with longevity in mind, utilizing a lot of solid wood that can easily be refurbished.”

In late March, it expanded operations to Mumbai with active plans to reach Gurugram, Pune, and Hyderabad. Moreover, the startup tied up with US-based furniture rental company CORT to serve its customers when they return to India.

Then came the furniture rental company’s Series B funding in October 2016: $30 million led by existing investor LightBox Ventures. The funds were deployed towards expanding product offerings as well as expanding operations to Delhi and Hyderabad.

In November 2019, CE-Ventures led a $17.5 million round in the Bengaluru-based company.

While the operations of several companies were disrupted in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, Karimpana told Inc42 in April 2020 that his startup’s revenue was not affected. He said:

“Furlenco’s subscription business model with monthly recurring revenue allows us to be a lot more resilient than many of the other startups who are seeing their monthly revenues plummet significantly.”

That month, the startup announced a $10 million funding round to achieve profitability.

Its most recent round of funding will help the company cater to much larger audiences and launch in more tier-I and tier-II cities.

While the startup did not disclose its valuation in this round, it is expected to be the most valued company in the subscription-based furniture rental space.

Amanat Khullar is the Content and Editorial Manager at ADIF.

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