Furniture Startup Founders Rake in the Moolah Selling Their Products Online With Customised Options
Four young men from Rajasthan are making waves in the customised furniture business, carving out an annual turnover of Rs 18 crore in under three years.
Lokendra Ranawat, Dinesh Pratap Singh, Virendra Ranawat and Vikas Baheti, all in their 30s, had no knowledge of the furniture business before 2015, when they started trading customised furniture online. Yet, they have made a huge success of it through their hard work and an enterprising attitude.
“We co-founded Wooden Street Private Limited in 2015 as equal partners, with an initial capital of Rs 5 lakh and became first generation entrepreneurs,” says Lokendra, the CEO. “The company’s first factory came up in Jodhpur in June 2015.”
In the first year, 2015-16, their turnover was Rs 2 crore and it jumped to Rs 18 crore in 2016-17. Starting out with just 10 staff members, they now work with a strong team of over 100 craftsmen and a dozen in-house designers from NID (National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad).
“Our first order was from a customer in Bengaluru on June 22, 2015, who ordered a shelf,” remembers Lokendra. Today, Wooden Street promises to deliver ready furniture within 4-5 weeks in 15 major cities across the nation.
The visitors’ traffic flow to their website is around 10,000 per day, about 3 lakh visitors per month. They have around 10,000 regular customers including the CEO of Lenskart, the founder of PayTM, the CEO of Capgemini India and more.
After over a decade of experience in sales and marketing, 36 year old Lokendra, who takes care of sales and products, returned from London in 2012 and wanted to set up his own business.
He studied Electronics & Communication engineering at Gyan Vihar School of Engineering & Technology, Jaipur, and did an MBA in Sales & Marketing from ITM, Ghaziabad. He then worked with Birlasoft Ltd, Axis IT&T in India and London.
Dinesh is an alumnus of MNIT-Jaipur, holds an MBA from IIM-Kozhikode and is an expert in procurement and general management. He has worked with Procter & Gamble in Singapore and Computer Science Corporation, India. Dinesh looks after the current and upcoming stores for Wooden Street.
Virendra is an engineer and MBA from IIMM-Pune and had earlier worked with TATA and Energo. He manages finance. Vikas, a finance graduate who has worked with firms like DELL and Vertex, administers the factories in Jodhpur.
All these four individuals quit their well-paying jobs and put their vast working experiences in to their start-up e-commerce business. “It wasn’t easy to decide on what we wanted to do,” reveals Lokendra, “but after much brainstorming, we narrowed down our focus to the furniture business.”
After a deep study and research of the market over two years they found that the existing big furniture stores were not altering the shape and size of the furniture as per customer’s choice and demand. On top of that, the authenticity of wood and quality of design were not a guarantee. Most of the furniture was made of imported plywood.
They were smart enough to read the pulse of the market and saw this as their opportunity. They visited around 50-60 villages across the districts in Rajasthan and interacted with local carpenters over several days and deliberated upon how to make it profitable for all concerned.
“We named our company ‘Wooden Street’ because we work with wood,” says Lokendra. “We booked the domain name in 2013 itself.”
With their website, a small staff of 10 and a warehouse-cum-factory in Jodhpur, Wooden Street became operational on June 1, 2015.
Ninety per cent of their furniture is made of Indian rosewood, or sheesham, and rest with mango and acacia. “Our USP is the ability to customise furniture and unique design,” says Lokendra. “We can fit furniture at every home no matter what size of the room... and we are not interested in selling the same furniture again.”
The customers have to navigate the website to book their desirable furniture online. They can specify what they want or share indicative ideas and the in-house designers respond with diagrams and 3D-models. “A 3D-model is prepared for approval from the customer and only then does it go to the factory for production,” explains the CEO, Lokendra.
Wooden Street now has four factories, two each in Jodhpur and Jaipur, and 13 offices as well as several offline stores registered as ‘Experience Store’ in Mumbai, Bengaluru, Jaipur and Udaipur. They are planning to expand their Experience Stores to Chennai, Delhi/NCR, Pune and Hyderabad in 2018.
“We focus on process, like seasoning of wood, proper joining methods and smart adhesives, etc,” explains Dinesh, when asked about their USP. “Wood seasoning is the secret to strengthen the quality of wood, which makes the furniture lighter and look better after polishing.”
Today, the four businessmen are competing with companies like FAB Furniture, Urban Ladder and Pepper Fry. Some giant companies have even offered to acquire Wooden Street, but they have declined their offers, realising the huge growth potential of their firm.
“We quit great jobs to become entrepreneurs and we don’t want to work for others anymore. We are on the right track and that is why we are getting lots of offer for buy-outs,” says Lokendra.
Sharing the business statistics, he discloses that every month about 700-800 units get sold and they get about 400-500 unique customers. “The industry gets 15-16 per cent repeat orders, while we get 32 per cent. This indicates that the customers are happy and satisfied,” he says.
Recipient of Times Entrepreneurs Award 2016, Hindustan Times Excellence Award 2016, and Top Innovator award by SINE (Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship) IIT Bombay, Wooden Street has surely surged its name up on the start-up wave.
This Article is Part of the 'Super Startups' Series
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