If that fabric sofa has hung around in your living room for too long, go for a plush leather alternative – for just US$7. Or why not re-furnish the entire two-bedroom apartment? All it will cost is US$120. We are talking monthly rentals here, and you don’t even have to go hunting from store to store.
A clutch of startups is making it possible for Indians to rent things – instead of splurging on them. For the sake of convenience, indulgence, or just to keep up with the Joneses, the concept is finding many takers among young Indians.
In a sign that India’s sharing economy is growing, online rentals site RentoMojo has raised US$2 million in series A funding from venture capital firms IDG Ventures India and Accel Partners India.
Barely a year after it was started by Geetansh Bamania and Ajay Nain, the startup supplies to 2,000 customers. It has a team of 50 and operates in Mumbai, Delhi-NCR, Pune as well as Bangalore where it is headquartered.
Geetansh, co-founder and CEO, Rentomojo, said, “We want our users to get access to a personalized lifestyle without actually owning it.”
The founders are speaking from personal experience. Here’s what they write on their blog: “Like many other young working professionals we were living in rented apartments, working long hours, sleeping on couches…we finally got us a queen-sized bed and a mattress for INR 15,000 (US$220) with the money that was meant to buy a Playstation. Ajay will never forget or forgive us for that.”
But when they shifted to a semi-furnished apartment, they ended up selling the bed for a paltry INR 2,850 (US$43)! That’s what got them to birth RentoMojo.
What’s for hire
The startup has a wide range of products on the table which it lets out for a minimum period of three months. Packages for the living room, bedroom, kitchen, laundry, and those that will furnish your apartment according to size are on offer.
So a compact studio package comes for INR 999 (US$15) whereas a luxury apartment package comes for INR 7,999 (US$120) – prices that might prove easy on the pocket for young working Indians in the 25-35 age group.
Users can pick from kitchen and home utility appliances like water purifiers, gas stoves, and induction plates to even simple things like clothes dryers and iron stands for anything between INR 99 (US$1.5) per month to 589 (US$9) per month. There are separate rental categories for furniture and office furniture too.
Adventure enthusiasts can dig into camp tents, cycles, motorcycles and sleeping bags, and more.
If the average IT firm employee has to move home 8-10 times between college and turning 50, then it makes sense to rent and not buy. It is less expensive, less time-consuming, and certainly more inconvenient.
And so the flurry of rental startups. Furlenco, for instance, operates in the furniture market and secured US$6 million in funding from Lightbox VC earlier this year. Klozee and Flyrobe are players in the apparel rental market. There’s NestAway in the home rentals business.
So how do rental startups get their supply of furniture and appliances? The answer varies. Furlenco, for instance, owns the furniture it rents out. RentoMojo, however, ties up with suppliers who are happy to make some rental income.
The startup does not own any of the items it puts out for hire. “We work as a marketplace and keep this business asset-light,” says Geetansh.
It is this asset-light model that helped it attract funding. “Their platform is witnessing exponential growth and it is exciting to be part of it,” said Venkatesh Peddi, executive director, IDG Ventures India Advisors.
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