CEO Series

These M'sians Created "The Sims" For Interior Design To Break Into A US$10 Billion Industry

When you think of Business-to-Consumer furniture e-commerce, you would think that the most obvious clientele to sell to would be the everyday consumer. After all, they’re the people who end up paying money for the products.

Here’s another obvious market though—interior designers.

Serving this side of the equation, as well as attempting to solve other difficulties that interior designers may face is what Furmingo is here for.

Engineers and designers who use Autocad—a software often used for 3D modelling—are familiar with the pain of building 3D models of their design from scratch, and then waiting for 3 million years for it to render.

Furmingo is a platform that offers something of a Sims-like solution by allowing you to drag and drop things and furniture from their database, instead of building it from scratch in Autocad.

Image Credit: Furmingo

According to their CTO—a former employee and trainer at AUTODESK—this also helps with rendering time too.

This way, even laymen can give a go at attempting to visualise what their home might look like after renovation or a change in interior design, or even just draw inspiration from the designs already on the site created by interior designers—if they figure out how to use the platform.

Frank Wong, Group CEO of Furmingo did inform us that non-interior designers need to take time to understand the tool, “just like when a newbie starts using Microsoft or any new software”.

But for those who really want it, Furmingo also released tutorials on how to use their software.

“We are finding ways to use technology to get better business ROI. For example, interior designers may have a platform to publish their work to end users, contractors and carpenters. End users also have the opportunity to visualise the end product in their interior before doing purchases.”

Furmingo also lists out interior designers on the site and lets you engage them, with their Furmingo-generated designs available for viewing on the platform.

The site is currently in beta but the full version will also incorporate actual furniture that’s sold from brands like IKEA, Luzini or Ashley Furniture.

Designed by Kimiko Wong on Furmingo / Image Credit: Furmingo

In fact, interior designers can choose to buy furniture through the platform itself—the team promises 1000 products deliverable in Klang Valley by the time the platform launches at the end of the year.

Furmingo was founded by a group of people who know exactly what the industry’s pain points were and how to address them—their team includes established interior designers, contractors, wallpaper as well as furniture industry players, though Furmingo remains coy on their actual identities.

“We still don’t have any mature tech players in the home industry in SEA except Hipvan.com, Livaza.com and fabelio.com but they are purely an e-commerce furniture vertical. There is still a very blue ocean in the home and living section to cover, and this is the area that covers cloud sourcing and materials.”
– Frank Wong, Group CEO of Furmingo

That being said, e-commerce only contributes to 30% of of Furmingo’s total business revenue, because most of them believe in the 3D models—named their e-reno and e-ID tools.

In fact it’s these very tools that are already bringing them a profit, even though their platform isn’t fully launched yet.

“Due to our co-founders’ network reputation, we have more than 2000 interior designers on-hand whereby we can convert 30% of them into Furmingo designers easily.”

“They will be our 1st hand clients to test out our tool. The Furmingo business model is centred around the cutting-edge tools and our affordable interior design ideas, going as low as RM1,300 for whole house design idea—8 times lower than market rate.”

“Eventually, we will flood the market. We are confident we can do it because of our tools.”

But they aren’t the first players in the market to do this. 

Even a cursory internet search yields quite a few sites who are able to do something similar, and to this Frank told us that, “There’s none in Asia.”

“We are confident we can stand apart from this industry in SEA. Can you bring a Norwegian software into Malaysia? Do you think they can import software from Norway to use?”

They believe that their cloud-based software, e-commerce store integration, as well as their O2O model that allows users to look at other designers’ ideas for inspiration, will help them stand apart from the herd.

They’ll be out of beta by the end of this year, and they already have 1500 registered users now. 

In an article on Homefinder.com about Furmingo, it noted that there are a total of 400,000 property transactions recorded in 2015, with around 37 interior design colleges in Malaysia and Singapore.

“The statistics show that out of the 400,000 transactions, only 20% engage an interior designer, whereas 80% don’t. We are talking about a market size of US$10 Billion (i.e. interior design & renovation) and a total of 20,000 interior designers and 5,000 home renovators.”

“They are our potential market, so we are looking to drive them to our platform, and to convert them into members. We are very positive about our future direction, we truly hope that our platform will be a great help to the interior designers.”

Of course, that’s not all—there’s that 80% who don’t use interior designers and Furmingo is very aware of them.

“When the time is right, we will extend Furmingo from B2B to B2C so the end-users can ride on this trend and benefit from it too.”

 

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