Ad-for-equity investor BCCL backs interior design solutions marketplace HomeLane

Six months after raising $10 million, interior design solutions marketplace HomeLane has struck a $3.5 million (Rs 24 crore) deal with Brand Capital, the ad-for-equity investment arm of media firm Bennett, Coleman and Company Ltd (BCCL).

Bengaluru-based HomeLane expects to fuel its expansion and brand-strengthening initiatives through the deal, the company said. The ad-for-equity deal provides significant advertisement space and customer outreach to startups through BCCL’s print, television, radio and digital media units.

“We are scaling up well and our association with Brand Capital will help us further enhance our brand and channelise our national expansion plans,” Srikanth Iyer, co-founder and CEO of HomeLane, said.

HomeLane was founded in August 2014 by Iyer and Rama Harinath (chief marketing officer), along with the husband-wife duo of Krishnan Ganesh and Meena Ganesh. Iyer is a former CEO of Pearson India and founder of Edurite. Harinath has studied at IIT-Chennai and IIM-Bangalore. Krishnan Ganesh and Meena Ganesh are best known for setting up the education-cum-consumer internet services firm TutorVista Global Pvt. Ltd and selling it to UK-based Pearson Plc. for $213 million.

Krishnan Ganesh and Meena Ganesh had bought Bengaluru-based offline design firm Bello Interiors Pvt. Ltd and converted it into HomeLane.

HomeLane offers a virtual design platform and a real-time integrated pricing engine. The startup allows homebuyers to select from hundreds of kitchen, wardrobe or wall-unit combinations with different layouts, designs, colours and finishes. After homebuyers place orders, interior designers from HomeLane work with them to help customise the kitchen or wardrobe. HomeLane offers a 45-day delivery guarantee for fit-outs.

The company currently operates in Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Delhi-NCR. It plans to double down on the number of experience centres in existing markets by the end of this year and is looking to achieve Rs 200 crore in annual revenue by March 2019.

Owned and operated by Homevista Decor and Furnishing Pvt. Ltd, the company had raised $10 million (Rs 64 crore) from venture capital firms Accel Partners, Sequoia Capital and RB Investments in December last year.

In 2015, HomeLane had raised Rs 28.3 crore ($4.5 million) in its Series A round led by Sequoia Capital. The round also saw participation from early-stage investment firm Aarin Capital.

"HomeLane addresses a key gap and need in the market for homebuyers in a seamless and efficient way. The continued growth in and attraction to private home ownership will propel HomeLane's market strongly over the coming decade,” Sam Subramaniam, CEO, Brand Capital, said.

In November last year, HomeLane acquired online home interiors marketplace Capricoast for Rs 90 crore. Within a month, it shut down the marketplace, said Inc42, a news portal on Indian startups.

Interestingly, online home decor startup Livspace, with which HomeLane competes in certain segments, had inked a similar deal with BCCL in December 2017. The total deal value was estimated to be about Rs 11.05 crore.

HomeLane competes with other online furniture players such as Pepperfry and UrbanLadder, besides horizontal e-commerce majors such as Flipkart and Amazon.

BCCL, which publishes The Times of India newspaper and operates television channels as well as a host of websites, actively strikes ad-for-equity deals that involve the media house taking an equity stake in companies in lieu of giving them advertisement space. Its recent deals include natural products marketplace Qtrove, online lending firm FinReq, and e-commerce firm ShopClues.

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