When Ajit Shegaonkar decided to get a personal wardrobe done, it wasn’t a very palatable experience for him.
Going through the rigour of designing and looking for a branded vendor and interior designers to unprofessional dealings with carpenters made Shegaonkar realise this was a highly underserved area. And, it could be the business idea the IIT Bombay graduate and investment banker had been looking for.
“That experience made me think that there is an opportunity here. From our preliminary research, we found close to 75 per cent of the home furniture market was purely unorganised, catering to customised furniture. The rest caters for readymade furniture,” he says.
So, last June, Shegaonkar joined hands with his 2005 IIT Bombay batchmate and an IIM Ahmedabad graduate, Vikas Nair, to float an online venture, StichWood.com, managed by Tangramme Furnishing Solutions, incorporated under the Companies Act.
Having raised Rs 60 lakh recently through bridge equity, StitchWood is in talks with angel investors to raise a seed fund of Rs 4.5 crore to meet expansion targets. “We would be closing the deal in two-three months,” said Shegaonkar.
StitchWood offers the customer an experience to customise his own furniture and even upload pictures or designs of any they wish designed for them. When a customer places an order, it is outsourced to a vendor. The company’s quality check team monitors the product’s manufacturing, at the vendor’s factory.
“The biggest issue carpenters face is working at one’s house. With most couples working these days, having carpenters home is impossible. So, we make sure the product gets designed at the vendor’s factory and delivered in three weeks to the customers’ house,” adds Shegaonkar.
Currently, the website offers customisation options only in sofas — Standard, Comfort, Sectional, Slimline, ChesterField and Tuxedo. In a few months, it would add options in dining tables and beds to its customised furniture line.
“All the information required will be available on the website. Every single upholstery the customer chooses, he will get the pricing on the website. In terms of delivery timeline, we have currently guaranteed three weeks delivery, if delayed; we would be crediting the customer with Rs 250 a day for every day of delay.”
So far, StitchWood has tied up with five vendors in this city and plans to add more. It is looking at positioning itself between Pepperfry.com and Urban Ladder.com. "For instance, we would sell a five-seater sofa at Rs 50,000, while the same would be sold between Rs 50,000 and Rs 70,000 on other websites,” says Shegaonkar.
The target group is below 40 years, which is largely online. StitchWood plans to market itself aggressively on social media. For the above-40 age group, not very tech-savvy, it would introduce a feature whereby they arrange a home visit by a furniture expert -- he will reach out to customers, seek their design and upload those on the website.
It is also expanding shortly from its current team of seven members to 15.