Ajith Mohan Karimpana has always been interested in technology, so he chose to get his master’s degree in Computer and Information Science from Temple University Philadelphia. Before that, he had graduated with an Industrial Engineering bachelor’s degree from the National Institute of Technology in Jalandhar. His educational background led him to become a senior analyst at Goldman Sachs before climbing the ladder and becoming the Vice President. During his relocation to Bengaluru, he encountered one problem that led him to start Furlenco, a furniture rental business that now offers a subscription service. It was an uphill struggle, as you shall find out from the facts below regarding the entrepreneur.
1. How He Got the Idea to Start Furlenco
Karimpana was the Vice President at Goldman Sachs, New York office, but they needed him to head one of the firm’s verticals in Bengaluru. Therefore in 2011, the entrepreneur had to sell his expensive furniture as part of the relocation process. Unfortunately, the furniture worth $5,000 sold for $300. Upon landing in India, he was clueless about the furniture market, so he bought poor-quality house fittings. The disappointment sparked a business idea as Karimpana wondered if a company that made relocation easier existed so that people did not end up with substandard furniture. There wasn’t; consequently, Furlenco was founded.
2. The Experience of Starting His Business Humbled Him
Karimpana was used to holding senior positions when working at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. With the executive roles came air-conditioned corner offices. As he told YourStory, he was used to being the boss, and people used to report him. However, when he started Furlenco, he is the one who had to go out to meet the customers. The reality of that hit him hard when he had to go out to fix a customer’s sofa’s legs, and the realization humbled him.
3. He is a Go-Getter
It’s often said that if you don’t believe it is possible, you should not get in the way of those who think it is achievable. Still, the naysayers will always be there as they were when Karimpana tried launching his company. They told him that renting out furniture was a bad business idea, but the businessman had to persist. Due to his persistence, Furlenco has become India’s first home living subscription company that is also 100% technology-driven.
4. His First Customer was an Expatriate
Speaking to Tribune India, Karimpana’s friend who had relocated from the US to Bengaluru asked where he could buy furniture. Given the experience the entrepreneur had with poor quality furniture, Karimpana suggested the best way would be to rent furniture which he would provide. He did not know how to make a quotation; since renting furniture was a new concept, pricing was also challenging. Still, he managed to get his friend the furniture requested and even went to the house to do the fitting.
5. Why He Launched an Infomercial with the Truth Fever (TVF)
In 2016, Furlenco partnered with TVF to launch “Truth or Dare with Dad.” Karimpana explained that TVF offered Furlenco a platform to reach the youth since it is popular and youth-centric, boasting over 150,000 viewers. Through the infomercials, Karimpana would utilize the digital content platform to introduce Furlenco to the youth of different cities comprising the company’s target group; Millenials make about 85% of the Furlenco’s customer base.
6. Over 30 Venture Capitalists Rejected His Idea
After establishing his company in 2011, it took a long time before Karimpana could get the funds he needed. According to TechCrunch, he had to try and convince almost 40 investors to have faith in his business idea, but they all rejected it. Finally, Lightbox Ventures took a chance on him, and the company raised $6 million in Series A; previously, Furlenco had raised $100,000 in a small angel funding round.
7. He Thinks Furniture is a Liability
Karimpana disclosed that the selling point of Furlenco was reiterating how furniture is a liability; hence one should not invest a lot of money in it. He gave customers the option of renting, which has been revolutionized to become a subscription service. Karimpana explained that renting gives you the option to invest in other, more worthwhile projects. The CEO said that lifestyles change and people keep upgrading their possessions such as mobile phones; therefore, renting enables one to upgrade when necessary.
8. He Can be Frugal
When Goldman Sachs decided to transfer Karimpana to their Bengaluru offices, they provided him with two options to make the relocation easier. They would help him with relocating or give him the money needed so he can do it himself. Perhaps he thought he would save some money by doing it himself, so he preferred the second option of being provided with the relocation money. Unfortunately, he later found out he had made a bad financial decision in his efforts to be economical. He went at a significant loss, not just because he sold his $5,000 worth of furniture for $300, but also because the furniture he wound up buying had to be replaced. While in India, he had to keep moving, and within the first year, the furniture he had bought began breaking.
9. His Hobbies
Being Indian, Karimpana has not forsaken his patriotism despite living in the US for a decade. Therefore, one of his guilty pleasures is watching Bollywood movies. When not being entertained by his fellow Indians, you will probably find the entrepreneur increasing his knowledge and vocabulary through books; thus, Entrepreneur India describes him as a voracious reader. He also loves learning new languages.
10. What Has Made Him a Successful Entrepreneur?
When asked what kept him going even when the future seemed bleak, Karimpana revealed that he knew that if he could survive the challenges, then he could overcome anything. Therefore, patience and persistence were critical. Although he was used to calling the shots in his executive roles, he had to set aside his ego and hire those smarter than him. He now advises other upcoming entrepreneurs to chase customers, not investors, because customers are the ones to determine if you will get the investors.
Written by Allen Lee
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