Furnishings e-tailer BedBathMore acqui-hires art related e-commerce startup Crude Area

Blume Ventures-backed Encompass Design India Pvt Ltd, which operates premium home furnishing e-commerce portal BedBathMore, has acqui-hired art-based e-commerce platform Crude Area for an undisclosed amount.

Acqui-hire refers to the buy-out of a company primarily for the skills and expertise of its staff, rather than for its products or services.

This is the Mumbai-based BedBathMore's second acquisition; it had acqui-hired Homado, a marketplace for interior designers and architects in a predominantly stock deal last month.

Post this all-stock deal, Crude Area will become an independent white label on the BedBathMore portal, as per a press statement.

Amit Dalmia, founder and managing director, BedBathMore.com, said, “Crude Area has built a robust model of identifying art-based products and we are sure it will add value to our overall effort of offering unique and differentiated products. As a business, wall art and private label extension in decor and furniture has been a vision for BedBathMore.com and the move ties in with our expansion plan and our acqui-hire strategy.”

Set up in November 2012 by Shweta Bhandari and Nidhi Dewan, Crude Area is owned and operated by Mumbai-based CrudeArea Web Pvt Ltd. The company curates artworks and designs from around the world. It aims to translate graphic art into home decor and lifestyle products such as wall art, framed prints, canvas prints, mugs, coasters and others. Crude Area houses about 1,000 artworks and sells an average of 500 orders per month.

A Delhi University alumnus, Bhandari had earlier worked with Webchutney, GE and American Express. Dewan is an alumnus of University of Southern California and previously worked with NBCUniversal and Frequency Networks Inc.

Crude Area was incubated by Sidharth Rao, founder of Webchutney, a web designing and marketing services provider that was acquired by Dentsu India Group in 2013. Crude Area had also raised money from Sachin Bhatia, co-founder MakeMyTrip and CEO of dating startup TrulyMadly.

As part of the deal, the entire team of Crude Area, including the founders, would become a part of the management team at BedBathMore. Bhandari is now VP – platform and community while Falguni Agarwal (erstwhile creative director with Crude Area) is creative director at BedBathMore, as per the press statement. Co-founder Dewan relocated to Sri Lanka post her marriage and is no longer associated with Crude Area.

In a recent interaction with Techcircle.in, Dalmia had indicated that acqui-hires will be a part of BedBathMore's strategy going forward.

BedBathMore.com is a marketplace for home décor, bed, bath and other lifestyle related home products. It also houses white label products and aggregates for other home decor e-tailers. The company claims to have generated an annual gross merchandise value (GMV) of around Rs 50 crore for the financial year ended March 31, 2015.

BedBathMore is in the final stages of raising $5-10 million from existing and new investors. The 18-month-old startup plans to invest the fresh money for augmenting its technology capabilities, increasing headcount, expanding geographic reach and enhancing marketing spend.

BedBathMore, which competes with the likes of FabFurnish, PepperFry and others besides the horizontal e-commerce firms, had raised funding from seed stage investor Blume Ventures two years ago. It says the Indian home furnishing and solutions market is pegged at Rs 60,000 crore.

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