K & Meena Ganesh buy design firm and pivot it into online furniture marketplace HomeLane
Entrepreneur couple K Ganesh and Meena, best known for setting up the education-cum-consumer internet services firm TutorVista Global Pvt Ltd and selling it to UK-based Pearson Plc in a $213 million deal, has acquired Bangalore-based offline design firm Bello Interiors Pvt Ltd and converted it into HomeLane, an online marketplace for fixed furniture.
HomeLane will sell furniture items such as wardrobes, TV cabinets, kitchen units and other home set-up solutions.
Run by the city-based Homevista Decor and Furnishing Ltd, HomeLane has also roped in Srikanth Iyer, ex-CEO of Pearson India and founder of Edurite, and IIM Bangalore graduate Rama Harinath as co-founders.
"Although setting up a home in India consumes such a large share-of-wallet (second largest after real estate costs), it is a big pain-point for home owners. The market is unorganised and very fragmented. Invariably, there are cost overruns and very little control over quality and timeliness leading to huge frustration among home owners. HomeLane aims to change this as our services will put complete control in the hands of home owners," said Srikanth Iyer, CEO of HomeLane.
HomeLane aims to be in seven cities over 12 months and has already launched operations in Bangalore. It will mainly compete with FabFurnish and Urban Ladder.
Iyer, however, said that HomeLane is not facing competition in India. "Unlike HomeLane, Fab Furnish and Urban Ladder sell loose furniture whereas we are focusing on the fixed furniture segment."
"The use of 3D Visualisation technology and automating the design to manufacturing process allow us to bring down delivery time by half," said Harinath, adding, "Our experience in Bangalore has already shown that there is a massive potential for a branded player which can offer time-bound delivery of home interiors with transparency, quality and convenience being the cornerstones."
The market for home set-up in India is estimated to be growing at 20 per cent CAGR and is already a $10 billion per annum industry in the top 10 Indian cities alone. Currently, the segment is addressed by unorganised players comprising carpenters and brick-and-mortar furniture stores which is hugely labour-intensive.
Krishnan and Meena are serial entrepreneurs and strategic investors who have successfully started and exited four companies. The couple's first venture, IT&T, was acquired by iGATE while the second initiative, Customer Asset, was bought by FirstSource (erstwhile ICICI OneSource). The third venture, called Marketics, was sold to WNS and the fourth one, TutorVista, was acquired by the British media group Pearson.
The husband-wife duo has also invested in over half-a-dozen companies so far. These include online travel guide Mustseeindia.com, online bookstore BookAdda.com, food delivery service Delyver.com, jewellery e-shop BlueStone.com, e-grocery firm BigBasket.com and online 'prasad' delivery service OnlinePrasad.com, and refurbished good e-tailer Overcart.com.
The duo recently acquired Portea Medical, a provider of in-home healthcare services in India.