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BW Businessworld

The Home Makers: Gita Ramanan, Co-founder & CEO, Design Cafe

We now deliver finished homes in 45-60 days with a 5-10-year warranty.

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Gita Ramanan believes in the philosophy that great designs have the power to change how you work, play and live. To actualise that philosophy, she floated Design Cafe along with her partner in 2015 in order to disrupt the country’s home interior industry, both for the homeowner and the design executor.  

Today, Design Cafe delivers 100-plus projects each month in the two cities it is present in. It plans to expand to another two cities by the end of this year. From roughly Rs 12 crore in FY 17, the Bangalore-based firm clocked Rs 120 crore in FY 19 and is on track to earn Rs 210 crore during this financial year.

“We believe that every homeowner deserves the most innovative design solutions that are customised as per their requirements and lifestyle for their homes, and should have it delivered at the most competitive price and in a manner that is transparent where they are assured of the quality.  To deliver on this promise, to change the way homes are designed, detailed, manufactured and installed, we have created the only home interiors company in India that is completely vertically integrated. We have a long way to go to deliver on our vision to become a one-stop solution provider for homeowners, but we now deliver finished homes in 45-60 days with a 5-10-year warranty,” Ramanan told BW Businessworld after being was feted as one of India’s  40 most successful entrepreneurs under the age of 40.

Ramanan was an architect and interior designer for more than 15  years before she founded Design Cafe. As CEO, she oversees the three primary aspects of the business: People (customers and employees), Design (all-new design and products) and Brand. 

The company has so far offered solutions for almost 5,000 homes and also raised its headcount to around 700 now.

“Additionally, for most of our customers, buying a home is their biggest aspirational purchase, and predominantly service a home loan and rent for their current dwelling. When their possession is imminent, they are eager to complete their home interiors and move in, thereby closing out one expense. This safeguards us from the slowdown currently, as most of our customers have purchased their homes 2-5 years ago and are now getting their possession,” says Ramanan.

Explaining further her business model, she says, “The total addressable market for us stands at Rs 35,000-40,000 crore in the top eight cities in India from new inventory (new homes) alone, out of which less than 3 per cent is organised. We are safeguarding against the slowdown by going after that unorganised market and increasing our market share. This is essentially achieved by our vertically integrated process flow.”

Ramanan also revealed that her company aims to set up Design Cafe Experience Centres in every major Indian city by 2024 thus offering its unique brand of end-to-end services, solutions and products in the home interior space. 

“The coming five years will see us expand our vision across the country and deliver innovative design solutions and products to thousands of homeowners and earning Rs 1,000 crore revenue.  By then, we also expect to own around 2 per cent of the complete interior business in the top 10 urban centres of India. We will be employing 2,500-plus people and thereby enriching the lives of more than 10,000 people by 2024,” says Ramanan.

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