The Rise of Another Unicorn

After having been founded in 2014, the Singapore-based interior design start-up, Livspace, has become a unicorn start-up following a recent funding round which saw the company raise 180 million USD at a valuation of 1.2 billion USD. The latest funding round, which was completed on the 7th February 2022, included investors such as Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) and Ingka Group Investments, the holding company of IKEA. Livspace has now had 10 funding rounds, raising a total of over 450 million USD.

Much of this capital has been used to fund expansion into the significantly larger market of India, acquiring three companies operating there throughout 2015, including YoFloor, Dwll In and DezignUp, with around 80% of their current revenue coming from India. All of these firms were within the interior design sector. Most recently, on 29th December 2021, Livspace acquired Qanvast, another Singaporean-based firm.

Currently, Livspace operates in over 60 markets across India and 20 Asia Pacific cities, with the Indian operations having become profitable in early 2021. Through their online platform, the firm is selling over 7.5 million items and they have so far delivered more than 100,000 rooms and designed over 35,000 homes for customers. In Fiscal Year 2021 the company was on track to reach up to 250 million USD in gross revenue run rate.

Anuj Srivastava, a co-founder and the CEO of Livspace, has claimed that this new financial capital will be used to further invest into their core markets, India and Singapore, both of which have been growing “exponentially” as well as possibly enter new regions. Srivastava mentioned possible expansion into Australia, Saudi Arabia, Southeast Asia, and the United Arab Emirates in a recent video interview, as well as plans to expand across 80 new cities globally in the next 18-24 months.

Livspace has already begun expansion into the Middle East where they formed a joint venture with the Alsulaiman Group (ASG) in October 2021, with plans to expand into Saudi Arabia in the first half of 2022. ASG have spent the past four decades managing the Saudi Arabian and Bahrain branches of IKEA (among other companies) so will be able to offer some experience to Livspace which was founded less than a decade ago. In addition, it is hoped that the two firms working together will be able to provide customers with the full renovating experience, from design to implementation

The reason for entering the Middle East through Saudi Arabia appears to be due to Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 initiatives which are “sparking growth in homeownership and a wider array of residential formats…which underlines the need for quality design and execution”, according to ASG. In a reaction to this, ASG and Livspace invested about 50 million USD into the country to “fuel regional growth and become market leaders”.

At the moment, the biggest competitors for Livspace are HomeLane and Pepperfry. HomeLane has served over 20,000 customers and is currently operating in 19 cities throughout India. Pepperfry covers over 500 cities. Both firms were founded around the same time as Livspace (HomeLane in 2014 and Pepperfry in 2011) but they have raised significantly less capital, with the former raising a total of nearly 115 million USD and the latter nearly 290 million USD.

Additionally, neither firm is quite experiencing the growth of Livspace despite them approaching profitability. Pepperfry is turning away from profitability and instead is aiming for high growth, with the knowledge that profitability is achievable after experiencing it in August-September 2020.

Furthermore, HomeLane claimed a record revenue of over 35 million USD in FY21, an increase of 16% on FY20, with expectations of reaching over 55 million USD in revenue in FY22 as well as reaching EBITDA profitability. The firm also plans to undergo an initial public offering by mid-2022 which is planned to raise up to 200 million USD, after reaching a valuation of around 480 million USD in a funding round last September.

The Indian interior design market was worth around 25 billion USD in 2020 and is expected to reach nearly 40 billion USD throughout the next seven years, with growth fuelled by the growing real estate market, which rebounded in 2021 following some slowdown in 2020 due to the pandemic. If Livspace can take advantage of this growing market, as well as others throughout the Middle East and Southeast Asia, the firm will likely continue the upward trajectory that it has been experiencing.

By Kristian Eklund

Edited by Gregor MacDonald

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