Building a Customer Centric Furniture Brand {Rajiv of Urban Ladder}

  
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Hello Stars!

Yes, been a while but we're back with a packed episode!

On this episode, episode 51, I speak with Rajiv Srivatsa a co-founder of a well loved consumer brand in the digital age, UrbanLadder. 

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Super fun chat with Rajiv on building a consumer brand in India. UrbanLadder was likely the big daddy of the Direct 2 Consumer trend in India. No retail stores, creating a brand, selling only private labels with only UL branded products. We discuss how using NPS in different areas of the business can help retain customers, the UL journey & solid advice for brands starting up now.  

Rajiv has recently joined the Singapore-based early-stage venture capital and private equity firm Antler as head of India and local partner. Do reach out via Linkedin, he's extremely helpful!

Do share the episode, would be awesome if you did!

— Varun

{host is on Twitter @varunvummidi }

Timeline: 

00:15 - Intro to Rajiv & UL 

07:17 - Early days of building a customer centric brand 

09:02 - Using new channels for creating low cost marketing  

12:40 - Scarcity & authenticity to drive user demand 

13:30 - Genesis for Urban Ladder 

15:40 - Keeping NPS as the North Star for Urban Ladder 

21:48 - Tracking & setting up NPS 

24:22 - Aligning & setting Brand values 

26:43 - Learnings from the downswing of UL 

32:00 - Is India ready to buy furniture online* 

37:00 - Reflecting on experiences and getting into the habit of writing & being vulnerable 

40:24 - Real Reasons to Startup 

43:46 - Intro to Antler   

47:40 - Closing thoughts

Urban Ladder had raised Rs 770 Cr since 2012 and was acquired by Reliance for Rs 182 Cr in November 2020.  Urban Ladder had raised capital from likes of Steadview, Sequoia Capital, SAIF Partners and Kalaari Capital.

The company had been struggling for the last two years of existence to find new backers whereas existing investors had not backed the company in follow on rounds. Urban Ladder and Pepperfry promised to disrupt the unorganised furniture and home decor market during the 2012-13 period.

However some believe that Urban Ladder struggled for several reasons including challenges in supply chain management and believe that Ikea’s entry had dried up the investors’ confidence in the segment. With the acquisition of Urban Ladder, Pepperfry is the only independent large player in the online furniture segment, recently raising a $40 million round led by Pidilite at a valuation over $460 million.