What if you could access everything you need for home repair and home décor in a single place? It would certainly make life easier, wouldn’t it? Now, with Bengaluru-based e-commerce website YouKraft, you can. This platform aims to create a space to sell products related to interior construction and decoration of living and working spaces so that buyers can find everything they need in one place saving time, money and energy. Manav Goel, Founder and CEO and Torun Mathias, Co-Founder and CSO of the brand, join Sunday Guardian for a chat about their unique platform. Excerpts from an edited interview:
Q. Why did you decide to launch this platform?
A. Manav: I have been part of the interior fit-out industry through my company Woodkraft for the past 20 years. We have worked on over 600 projects spanning more than 75 million sq. ft. in 28 cities in India and worked with a base of over 7000 skilled labourers. Woodkraft’s global corporate clientele includes many of the Fortune 500 companies. My experiences in sourcing and execution have given me a keen understanding of the problems within the industry. With Youkraft, I want to leverage technology, so that all players get price transparency, access to a range of brands, knowledge of types of products and solve issues of on-site delivery.
Torun and I were close friends and classmates in high school. He was entrenched in Wall Street for 13 years as an Mergers and Acquisitions banker advising on several marquee transactions. Torun returned to India in 2012 and started a boutique real estate development company where he experienced first-hand the problems that Youkraft is trying to solve.
Torun: I feel that if I had access to Youkraft back then, I would have saved 25 percent of my costs, used better materials, made better decisions in executing design elements and completed my project much faster.
Our skill sets complement each other’s, and we decided to start YouKraft together. The platform started gathering momentum in the later part of 2021 with the addition of our innovative technology team and key business leaders. We officially released our app and launched our venture on April 10, 2022. The feedback has been positive so far, as this product addresses several pain points in the industry around the sourcing of authentic materials.
Q. Do you cater to a pan-Indian clientele?
A. Manav: YouKraft launched its mobile/web platform in April 2022 in the Bengaluru market and is looking at a staged wider release across Karnataka in the second and third financial quarters of 2022. The pan-India rollout will happen in stages after this. YouKraft plans to supplement its e-commerce platform in the near future with on-ground omni channel stores.
Q. What does YouKraft stand for as a brand? What was your vision for it?
A. Torun: Youkraft is a technology-enabled company, based in Bengaluru. Its main aim is to digitise and address key issues that the interior and construction sector face. In essence, YouKraft is an e-commerce marketplace for all things to do with interiors/construction. The interior/construction sector is highly unorganised, and we have tailored our product to address key challenges which include (i) opaque pricing; (ii) lack of choice and information; (iii) unreliable supply chain; (iv) credit constraints; and (v) lack of access to skilled contractors.
Manav: Our mission is to leverage technology to transform the interiors / construction sector by offering our customers the best price, a wide variety of brands, the convenience of shopping on-line with seamless delivery and an attractive list credit and EMI schemes. Our vision is to allow brands to be available in every corner of India and for every individual to be able to access any brand of their choice.
We promise to bridge the gap between you and a great interior space. By not only giving you direct access to all the leading interior brands but also making them available at the best price and quality under one roof. We offer a large variety of products that will leave you spoilt for choice and we also have easy credit options that will help you go the extra mile.
Q. What products / services do you offer on YouKraft?
A. Manav: We cover all key categories related to interiors/construction industry which include carpentry, hardware, tools, electrical and lighting, plumbing and sanitary ware, flooring, safety, ceilings, paint and wall decor, and home appliances. We have currently on-boarded over 200 brands and are in discussion with another 300 brands across the interior/construction segments.
Our phase one goal is to have close to 1,000 brands in the interior/construction space in the next six months across over 25 key categories on our platform. Later, we hope to include finished interior products like furniture, wardrobes, tables, modular kitchens, etc. and soft furnishings like, rugs, curtains, artefacts, etc., which will enable YouKraft to carry the A-Z of all products related to interiors/construction.
Q. How often do you launch new products/ services?
A. Torun: We are an e-commerce marketplace, and products and SKUs are being added to our platform in real time. Currently, we have more than 200 brands and 50,000 SKUs listed on our platform across 18 categories. Further, given the nimbleness of our technology team, we are able to add features and dashboards as and when issues arise.
Q. What is the story of the name of your brand?
A. Manav: Our vision was to have an e-commerce marketplace for all things related to interiors. As a business we aspire to be an end-to-end solutions provider, the only partner one needs to bring their imagination to life, in the form of a physical space; the only partner one needs to ‘Kraft’ your dream space. Thus, was born ‘YouKraft’ – a partner that enables ‘YOU’ to ‘KRAFT’ your dream space, be it your home or your office.
Q. How do you pick the brands who retail on your website?
A. Torun: Since we are a curated market space, our intention is to give our customers the entire range of products vertically and horizontally. By that we mean, if a customer is looking for plywood, we will give them a wide range of brands selling plywood across a range of price points as well as feasible alternatives.
Q. How do you spread the word about your platform?
A. Manav: YouKraft as a concept is novel and disruptive. This fact in itself helps build curiosity to a great extent. Besides, with my background in the interior design industry through my company Woodkraft for the past 40 years, it has been an easy path for Torun and me to enter and pursue together. My experience both in India and international markets has given me a universal understanding of the problems within the industry. Our presence on social media has helped generate buzz about YouKraft and also helped create inbound leads.
Noor Anand Chawla pens lifestyle articles for various publications and her blog www.nooranandchawla.com. She can be reached on email@example.com.