Indian entrepreneurs are hit by a wave of Uberization — from e-pharma to e-beauty, there isn’t any vertical left untouched. India’s home interior design market is no different and one startup which is standardising this highly fragmented market is Livspace, founded in 2014 by Ramakant Sharma, co-founder & COO and Anuj Srivastava, CEO & co-founder.
Earlier this year, the startup which offers a marketplace for customers and interior designers received substantial funding from Ingka Group, strategic partners of IKEA, taking its total funding to $97.6 million. Ingka deal has propelled Livspace to the top of the stack in India’s fragmented home interiors and renovation market and has put considerable distance between its competitors. Ikea’s first tech investment in India is a validation of Livspace’s technical prowess and strong platform approach. The investment will help the company scale to global markets and leverage Ikea’s strong supply chain capabilities.
The reason why Ikea parent went big on Livspace is clear — unlike its competitors HomeLane and FlipSpaces that work on demand aggregation or discovery problems, Livspace has taken a platform approach. Through this approach, Livspace has created a value chain -- right from product standardisation, manufacturing, supply chain, payment infrastructure, design authoring, 3D visualisation and content discovery.
In addition to that, Livspace covers the entire lifecycle of the home design-to-installation journey. Armed with the biggest catalogue of products and services curated from over 1000 suppliers, it boasts of the largest designer community and the most sophisticated platform in the interior design industry. Apart from building design and 3D visualisation tools, the company led by Sharma and Srivastava has invested heavily in creating a sound infrastructure for supply chain, product definition, payments, project management, communication, and content distribution besides crafting a true omnichannel experience for our end-customers.
For this week’s Deep Dive, we got in touch with Rohit Modi, Head of Product and Growth at LivSpace, to understand how the online one-stop-shop for interiors, positioned as a top-notch tech-based platform is offering a superior customer experience and giving home-owners a seamless home decorating experience. We also dig into Livspace’s aggressive expansion plan in India and how the company is gearing up for a global debut. The company believes the platform can become the go-to destination for many different markets in the home and commercial real estate transformation industry.
Livspace Operating Model
Livspace operates as a three-sided marketplace, connecting home-owners with designers and suppliers of home design products and services. The interactions between the stakeholders has helped Livspace build the largest catalogue of standardised products. These products are further integrated into the proprietary 3D visualisation software — Canvas, a tool used on the platform by interior designers. Canvas enables designers to create solutions for customers while ensuring accuracy in pricing and delivery timelines.
Globally, the design-led purchase market is estimated to be valued at $250bn. As per industry estimates, the Indian market is valued at $20-25 billion with scope for rapid growth due to emerging demand in the APAC region in the coming years. Another factor that has spurred development in interior design market is the booming residential market currently experiencing significant improvement with the number of properties witnessing a year-on-year growth rate of 21% in 2019, a report by Knight Frank hinted. “This means that more people are buying houses in major cities in the country and opens up a window of possibilities for Livspace to assist homeowners, to turn their houses into dream homes,” said Modi.
Building A Tech Stack@Livspace
The tech-stack is based on a solid foundation created by a team of experts. The platform is built with distributed application architecture with polyglot web-services and different persistence strategies depending on the nature of data. Different products on the platform use Java, Python, Go and PHP for web services. “For front-end, we use React Native, Angular and Vue. Our persistence layers are built on RDS and Redshift. A lot of our data consists of design assets that are semi-structured and are stored in NoSQL databases and AWS S3. We have some of the best software developers in our team and this is demonstrated by the quality of service we provide our customers,” shared Modi.
Machine Learning Use Cases
Some of the key areas where machine learning is used in — matching customers with designers, product recommendations and curating designs for easy discovery.
Now, one of the core problems Livspace solves is matching homeowners with the right designers in their location. These matches are based on aesthetic preferences, functional requirements and other key attributes. The team uses machine learning to find the best designers for a customer. This is done by using and analysing hundreds of thousands of data points in real-time.
“We also use machine learning for tailoring product recommendations in our design tools. This helps designers create the most relevant solutions for the homeowners which are in line with their needs and demands,” shared Modi.
The community of designers creates hundreds of thousands of designs every month. “We use machine learning to also automatically curate and categorise these designs aiding in the easy discovery and use of these assets by other designers and end customers,” he added.
Livspace Eyes Domestic Expansion
With Ikea backing, Livspace has emerged as one of the top organized players in India’shome interiors market. It has now the muscle to become leading omnichannel interiors and furniture retail experiences for homeowners and commercial players. Modi believes the collaboration will pave the way for a richer and better design and supply experience, for interior designers and vendors and Ikea’s expertise will help the brand strengthen its supply chain capabilities and enter new markets.
Currently, the brand serves 9 metro areas and plans to go deeper within existing cities — specifically the NCR region. As part of their growth plan, Livspace will expand their team, extend partnerships with vendors and designers to attain business goals and offer consumers with a delightful and seamless experience.
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Richa Bhatia is a seasoned journalist with six-years experience in reportage and news coverage and has had stints at Times of India and The Indian Express. She is an avid reader, mum to a feisty two-year-old and loves writing about the next-gen technology that is shaping our world.