The journey of Pepperfry from $5 million to $2.5 billion raised in funding

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Ever felt lethargic at the thought of getting furniture made for your new home, office or restaurant? It is, indubitably, an arduous task. Well, at least it used to be. Pepperfry has now made it easy for millions of people to order top-notch furniture at affordable rates. It caters to both online and offline customers.

Pepperfry has studio stores and warehouses in various cities in India such as Delhi, Gurgaon, Chandigarh, Ghaziabad, Jodhpur, Lucknow, Kolkata, Bhopal, Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Goa, Bengaluru, Kochi, and Chennai. The famed startup, Pepperfry, opened for business on the 3rd of January in 2012. It has its headquarters in Mumbai, Maharashtra. The company also has its own application with a user-friendly interface.

Pepperfry offers more than 1.2 lakh products to choose from across various categories such as furniture, decor, lamps & lighting, furnishings, kitchen, dining, housekeeping, and hardware & electrical. Pepperfry has also launched its furniture rentals service, which is available in top 8 cities in India.

With a ‘great variety of products at amazing rates,’ Pepperfry targets customers who have a preference for both brands and online medium of shopping. A major section of its customers is a young and rising affluent class with a strong taste of fashion and trends. Its parent company is Trendsutra Platform Services Pvt Ltd. and it goes by the tagline: ‘Happy furniture to you.’

The startup offers multifarious services like a free consultation for home interior solutions for complete homes, modular kitchens and modular storage. Studio Pepperfry is a wonderful initiative to reach the offline audience. This gives them an opportunity to physically see the products and customise them as they please. One can also give Pepperfry gift cards to their loved ones. There is also a provision to exchange old furniture with new furniture.

Pepperfry was founded by Ambareesh Murty and Ashish Shah. Ambareesh Murty cofounded Pepperfry.com with his eBay India colleague Ashish Shah in July 2011. The e-commerce platform is an arm of Trendsutra Platform Services Pvt Ltd. With his rich repertoire of experience and skills, the Pepperfry CEO Ambareesh has created a special place for himself in the furniture vertical that is still away from the eyes of giants like Amazon, Walmart, and Alibaba.

He has managed to gain the support of investors like Bertelsmann and Norwest Venture Partners among others. It is his efforts that today his online home décor and furniture platform witnesses over 38 lakh registered users and over 50 lakh visits per month from India.

Before he launched Pepperfry, Ambareesh already had a rich corporate career. He was Country Manager at eBay India, Philippines, and Malaysia from March 2008 to June 2011 and Director of Marketplace Development & User Experience from December 2005 to February 2008. Prior to that, he worked at Britannia Industries as Marketing Manager from June 2005 to December 2005.

This aside, he also served Levi Strauss India Ltd. as Brand Leader from August 2003 to December 2003 and ICICI Prudential as VP Marketing and Customer Service from October 2001 to August 2003. His first job was with Cadbury India as Brand Manager, where he spent over 5 years from June 1996 to October 22001. The Pepperfry CEO Ambareesh had founded a content development and delivery company for training purpose in Asset Management Space called Origin Sources in December 2003. Ambareesh has done Civil Engineering from Delhi College of Engineering (1990 – 1994) and MBA from IIM-Calcutta (1994-1996).

Ashish Shah is the founder and COO at Pepperfry.com. He hails from Mumbai, Maharashtra and had a successful corporate career before founding Pepperfry. He was the Branch Sales Manager at Tradox Pigments and Chemicals for 1 year and 4 months from August 1998 to November 1999. In 2000, he joined ChemB.com as Regional Manager- North. After working there for a year, he joined C1 India Pvt Ltd as an Associate Consultant.

He left the job in October 2002 to become the Manager at Baazee.com. He worked there for 1 year and 11 months. For 5 years and 6 months after that, he worked as Head of Sales and Operations at eBay Motors India. He went on to become the Business Head of the same company in April 2008. Shah worked under that position till June 2011. He founded Pepperfry with Ambareesh Murty later that year.

In June 2011, Ambareesh Murty, Ashish Shah and Niren Shah—all former eBay India personnel—met over lunch at Niren Shah’s Nariman Point office in Mumbai. Murty was the country manager for eBay India and Ashish Shah headed the motors and social shopping divisions there; Niren Shah had quit in 2007 to join Norwest Venture Partners, an investment firm, as managing director.

As they launched, Murty and Ashish Shah outlined their plans to launch a lifestyle e-commerce venture on a paper napkin to Niren Shah, who immediately liked the idea. That lunch meeting was the genesis of Trendsutra Platform Services Pvt. Ltd, which runs Pepperfry, the online furniture marketplace and home decor platform.

In the era of raining shopping sites; Pepperfry entered as a legend in its category. In its initial days of launch, Pepperfry had a line of the departmental store featuring apparel, bags and accessories, furniture & home decor, Jewellery and Perfumes & cosmetics.

It featured brands like Lotto, Little India, Peter England, Beverly Hills Polo Club, Octave, Allen Solly, and L’Oreal among others, and allowed users to browse various departments using filters for brands, product type, size, colour, design and other variables. But later taking the benefit of the privileged category over the website, the business was fixed to Furniture, Home Decor, Kitchen & Dining, etc. However, Pepperfry.com started its operations on January 3, 2012.

They got their first round of investment from Norwest within merely a month and a half after inception. This really kick-started operations at the company and catalysed their progress.

Over the last year and a half, the management saw success in the furniture & home decor category; it contributed to around 80 per cent of the overall revenues. They also noticed that there were no really large online players in this space. And taking the benefit of the factor, the business was fixed to Furniture, Home Decor, Kitchen & Dining, etc.

The company offers free shipping on all orders. For the convenience of shopping and returns it introduced a 30 Days No-Questions-Asked 100% Money Back Guarantee for customers in 2014. In December 2014 the company launched its first concept store “Studio Pepperfry”. This was followed by a similar Studio opening in Bengaluru. The company recently completed a milestone of delivering 1 million customer orders.

Pepperfry.com has raised a total of $197.5M in funding over 6 rounds. Their latest funding was raised on Mar 7, 2018, from a Series F round.

They’re first ever funding was dated December 12, 2011, in which they raised $5 million funded by Norwest Venture Partners. They invested in Pepperfry again after nearly a year and 4 months on 3rd April 2013. They funded the company with another $8 million in a Series B funding round.

A year later, on March 27th, 2014, Bertelsmann invested $15 million in the company in a Series C funding round.

On July 27th, 2015, Goldman Sachs invested a whopping $100 million in Pepperfry in a Series D funding round. Following that, they invested another $31 million a year later in September 2016.

In their latest funding round, which happened on the 7th of March this year, they raised a flabbergasting $2.5 billion. The investors were State Street Global Advisors.

Pepperfry has an exemplary network of 1 million customers. It is in partnership with more than 1000 merchants. They provide more than 55000 products in product categories like home appliances, furniture, body & bath, lamps & lighting et cetera. The company has consorted with approximately 600 national and international brands like Godrej Interio, Hometown, Evok, Philips, Raymond, Joseph Joseph, Morphy Richards et cetera.

Pepperfry claims to sell a piece of furniture every 20 minutes and an item every 1 minute. They have a strong logistics network comprising of 10+ fulfilment centres across the country which ensures damage free and last mile delivery.

According to Owler, Pepperfry.com’s annual revenue stands at $18.7 million with a total of 841 employees.

Pepperfry competes with other online furniture and lifestyle stores such as Urbanladder, Hometown, Housefull, Durian, etc. Leading e-commerce companies such as Flipkart, Amazon, Snapdeal, and Shopclues have also started offering furniture online, which is a new challenge for Pepperfry.

Pepperfry has targeted a very specific niche as opposed to providing a wide range of products. It is, surprisingly, doing very well and is the leading furniture manufacturer and supplier in the country today. It is India’s largest home shopping destination.

How likely are you to recommend and buy furniture from Pepperfry? Tell us in the comments.

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Vasundhara Dhadiwal
I'm quite gauche, tbh. I despise texting abbreviations and Internet acronyms and the fact that I find myself guilty of using them every once in a while. I study mass communication and photography gets me by. I am as old school as they come. I devour books while a plate full of food is waiting to be eaten. Life is quite okay but I struggle with the in-betweens. I'm just a regular girl but I believe that I'm going to be a very big deal someday.

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