Imagine this: A recent college graduate comes to Dhaka with hopes of getting enrolled at a good university and to settle in the capital for the next few years to come. He finds himself a liveable house with some flat mates.
They have taken care of mostly everything in the house to make it somewhat comfortable. The only things they are still lacking are some much needed furniture to give the space the feel of a home.
As students seldom have the kind of money at hand to furnish a house, their case wasn't any different.
Now imagine this: There exists a company that lets anyone hire furniture for both home and office. And not just furniture, anyone can hire home appliances such as microwaves, TV sets and even ACs in exchange of paying a meager monthly amount.
This subscription-based furniture rental called "Let's Furnish" lets you experience at-home luxury without spending a fortune on purchasing and maintaining furniture while saving you the trouble of moving them when shifting houses.
Efaz Ahmed, the founder and CEO of Let's Furnish, spoke to The Business Standard about his venture, its offer s and how it is changing the furniture industry as a whole.
Founded in 2018, Let's Furnish is a brilliant take on the idea of renting - both financially and environmentally. "Renting furniture damages the environment less than buying as it minimis es production and hence less trees need to be chopped down for wood," said Efaz.
It works the same way as taking ride sharing services instead of buying cars, he added.
Efaz started Let's Furnish with the first scenario in mind. He wanted to provide an easy solution for students who came from a different town or city to larger ones without a family who would've otherwise provided them with a fully furnished house.
"I thought of this concept when I was in university. I was exposed to the problems of furnishing for students who left their families and homes in other cities to settle somewhere else," Efaz said, detailing the rental's inception.
He added, "We rent so many things like cars, homes and subscribe to cable networks and so on. So, I merged the two concepts and ended up with Let's furnish."
The pricing strategy of Let's Furnish is meant to make renting accessible for the client-base of all classes. For as low as Tk3,600 per month, anyone can fully furnish their bedroom - all with a bed, a wardrobe, and a nightstand or a dresser.
Along with furnishing homes, Let's Furnishes expanded their services to offices and young professionals recently. "Although we started off targeting just students, we later realis ed that offices need to rent furniture, and so do young professionals."
Let's Furnish has office furnishing setups that accommodate eight and 12 people. Their high value offerings are the bedroom setups along with home appliances rentals such as ACs and TVs.
"Young and middle-aged professionals aged between 25 to 45 who live in the city alone also struggle to properly furnish their homes. Till now, we have furnished the houses of many clients in this age range," he told the correspondent.
A subscription from Let's Furnish also covers damage repairment costs and insurance.
The concept of renting necessities is an age-old concept. The idea of renting furniture, however, is something new in Bangladesh. "Neither me nor my team didn't invent anything new. Furniture rentals have been going on forever in many countries. The missing link was our sense of belonging, which works differently for us.
"Our products hold different values for us. I wanted to target our services at people who want to save up on the extra cost of furnishing. Extra expenditure also puts a ceiling on our purchasing power due to excessive spending," Efaz detailed.
Unlike most rentals, Let's Furnish doesn't work with its own fleet of furniture. Rather, they source their furniture from local furniture manufacturers - furniture companies, brands and boutique furniture stores.
With a yearly profit of 12 to 15 percent, Let's Furnish has experienced a 250 percent turnover till now, of which 55 percent generated from the office furnishing wing.
But what happens if a furniture gets damaged while on the lease? "The net worth varies from one furniture to the other. In case of damage, the client pays the market retail value of the piece if the damage insurance cannot cover the expenses, and they only pay for the specific repair," Efaz answered.
Talking about Let's Furnish's ideologies, Efaz said, "We're trying to enter the grey market industry. We want people to understand the magnitude of renting furniture. As the clients have to pay less than the retail prices of the furniture, it's easy to access, economic and environmentally friendly. This will also help us get attached to as many households as possible."
As the conversation reached its end, Efaz detailed on his future plan regarding Let's Furnish. "We're actively thinking of building an interactive AI service so our clients can virtually furnish their homes before settling for a layout. This can help the clients understand what best suits their furnishing needs and they can also avoid wrong purchasing decisions."