The Flipspaces story – Reinventing interior design with technology
In a world eager to be different, it is the vision that distinguishes individuals. After getting into entrepreneurship earlier and with a successful construction-scale exit into ed-tech behind him, Kunal Sharma had his eureka moment checking out a multiplayer game at home. Almost by chance, he met Ritesh, who was then the technical lead of a boutique gaming startup, during a jam session given their shared interest in music.
“What started as a musical confluence in the evening turned into a full-fledged business idea at night,” says Ritesh, now chief product officer at Flipspaces, smiling.
Rewinding a bit, the founders of Flipspaces have been friends since the days of IIT Bombay. “We started as a brand of supply and distribution of products in the field of furniture and furnishings. While the business was going well, there was something wrong – the big idea! It was the time when the entire interior design industry was unconsolidated, with nothing new in the customer experience. There was no synergy between space design, product sourcing, and project execution in the interior design space. It was a fragmented value chain with different companies offering piecemeal services. What was missing was a seamless customer experience that could be delivered at scale. says Ankur Muchhal, co-founder and head of international affairs.
Back in 2015, when the team started working on the “big idea” around technology, they thought they had cracked the code to take the consumer experience in interior design to the next level, backed by a vision of a multi-module technological product. Merging forces with a technical team via acqui-hire, and with the arrival of Ritesh as product manager,was born as an interior design technology brand, the first of its kind.
“Until now, we have been quite resistant to media glare. We believe that our work should be the voice of the brand,” says Kunal.
With its technology-driven vision, Flipspaces technology platform now spans more than 5 million square feet of commercial space globally for renowned businesses among enterprises, start-ups, multinationals, brands of retail and SMBs such as BSH, NoBroker, Open Financial, Times Group, Aditya Birla, InstaOffice, BharatPe, Nivea, Oppo, P&G, Reebok, Royal Enfield, Razorpay, Bounce and PlaySimpleGames in India and USA. The company targets categories in commercial-type offices, retail, hospitality, education and healthcare facilities, among others, and provides a one-stop technology solution to its customers for the design and construction.
Why the commercial focus so far?
Kunal explains, “What is unique about our business is the size of the mandates we execute and the gross margins we achieve. The fundamentally robust unit economics allowed us to scale the business while remaining profitable even at the EBITDA level. As a leader in technology-driven commercial design and construction, we have 10 times the ticket size of other interior design startups like Livspace and Homelane, 8 times the market size of these players, with India and the United States combined, and a more modeled product and delivery. ecosystem. In an otherwise heavy-duty business, which is the typical perception of the interior design industry, we are able to scale without compromising time or quality due to the category we operate in and the supply chain and delivery mechanism that we have developed to operate seamlessly to escalate. The economics of our unit are much stronger than most or all funded players and therefore result in a much better return on invested capital. Additionally, with the expansion of its US footprint and the creation of a business unit in the GCC, Flipspaces is living its vision of becoming a global design technology brand.
Address the transition from commercial spaces as “workplace” to “second homes”
An industrial economy is almost always synonymous with rigid social hierarchies, mechanical tasks, and regulated office norms such as fixed 9-to-5 work hours or a traditional office setup. On the contrary, the knowledge economy has given rise to blurred lines of command, a collaborative style of management and a culture based on trust. This change has changed the very essence of what a workplace means in our lives. “With the maximum waking hours spent in workspaces; offices, retail, healthcare and educational facilities, etc., it has rightly become our second home. Needless to say, offices today are no longer a collection of cubicles and cubicles with stacks of paper files adorning every corner; instead, they are meant to be spaces that exude culture, comfort and a sense of place,” explains Vikash Anand, co-founder and CSO.
Unleashing the opportunities brought about by the growth of the community of entrepreneurs and SMEs
Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) have become the flagship sector of the Indian economy, accounting for 37% of the national GDP and 40% of the Indian workforce. An equally compelling fact is that within this framework of MSMEs are the more than 60,000 startups that make India the third largest startup ecosystem in the world. India’s startup ecosystem is nothing short of a revolution with $106 billion in value creation by 44 unicorns, in turn creating 1.4 million direct and indirect jobs and one-shot growth. impressive rate of 15% year over year.
“A startup, SME, or any other business for that matter faces the challenge of creating a differentiated identity for two key stakeholders: the customers it hopes to attract and the talent pool it seeks to hire. a differentiated space in line with the spirit and vision of a brand is a key factor in breaking out of the clutter of these two highly competitive functions.This is the challenge Flipspaces seeks to solve for business owners in as a single point of contact using technology and process as an important gap,” says Kunal.
Since the majority of mandates come from the startup and SME segment, Flipspaces believes it has upped its game when it comes to bringing new-era ideas and designs to life while having the channel models of supplies needed to create customer delight at a scale level. . “Ultimately, interior design is a permutational supply chain problem. If you can simplify complex-looking designs into smaller granular elements and build a supply chain around them, you’ve solved a problem. part of the problem. What looks like a tailor-made solution for a customer is actually a pattern within the Flipspaces ecosystem. That’s why we were able to scale.” Mrinal Sharma, Co-Founder and COO.
Disruption through technology as a differentiator
“At Flipspaces, technology is the way of life. We strongly believe in the power of technology to create process efficiencies, thereby creating control over the bottom line. Moreover, the technology also creates a differentiated customer experience, thereby helping to increase revenue. The size of the industry is over $1 trillion, and we are hungry. Technology is an essential tool in satisfying this hunger,” adds Vikash with visible enthusiasm.
With VIZWORLD, Flipspaces proprietary technology suite, we seek to create an integrated product that creates efficiency and customer satisfaction at every step of this process. The interior design and construction is quite complex and requires deep domain expertise, which can consequently create the ability to develop SAAS products for the respective vertical markets. This is where the design and build pedigree creates substantial leverage for Flipspaces.
Delight value-conscious customers
It is rightly said that no business can survive until you have customers who can support your work. Flipspaces’ mantra of success is immense customer love, which is reflected in their growing repeat and referral business, accounting for over 60% of their revenue. They understand their customers well and what they want as they grow.
“The expectation of an SME client is very different from that of a mandate from a large company. An SME customer is more value-oriented than cost-oriented. Another key difference is that they don’t have fixed teams to execute their expansion plans and therefore need a single solution. We recognize this difference in behavior which is identical to the B2C market. At the same time, being trade-focused allows for much better ticket size and significantly better ROI,” says Vikash.
Unveil the future vision of becoming a SAAS product house
The future of interior design is to make the customer journey engaging and inclusive. With its integrated technology stack, Flipspaces has a single vision to become the world’s leading design technology brand by bringing together the three disjointed aspects of design, product and delivery experience under one roof for its customers. The company claims to follow the Amazon model in this journey.
“With an increased push on technology, we are moving closer to the vision of becoming a SAAS product house. Each of these products with the Vizworld technology suite is first created and tested in-house, to drive organizational efficiency in our own design and build verticals. Going forward, the vision is to deploy them as SAAS offerings for third-party stakeholders. Similarly, our first such SAAS offering, Vizstore, is seeing a phenomenal response in the furniture and home furnishings retail market,” says Kunal with visible excitement about what the future holds.