When Harish Chintawar was getting the interiors done for his home, he faced several issues with the interior designer with respect to quality and timely completion. He also found the way of working to be quite unprofessional, which resulted in cost escalation and the project taking much longer than promised.
A frustrated Harish took over the responsibility of design and execution and completed the project in 55 days with proper planning.
A colleague who saw the interiors was pleasantly surprised to know that it was done by Harish himself and offered his house to Harish for interior designing and the word spread from there. While running his IT company, Harish was doing at least two to three interior designing projects as a hobby.
Years of doing this made him and his colleague Prasanna Rohanekar realise that there was a great business opportunity lying ahead of them.
The home design and decor market is worth nearly $45 billion in India and over 90% of this market is unorganised. Most people who have designed or renovated their homes will stand testimony to the fact that costs always escalate and very often, the final outcome is not as satisfactory for the price paid.
“So both of us started brainstorming on how things can be done in an organised way with systems, tools and quality processes in place. Thus Hechpe was born in 2015,” Harish says.
Harish C and Prasanna Rohanekar of Hechpe Spaces
Hechpe Spaces is a new age IT-enabled custom interior design and execution startup that is process driven at every step.
“Interior designers generally don’t do civil work, installation of appliances and false ceiling. But we take ownership from start to finish. We take responsibility for all vendors,” Harish adds.
Once Hechpe wins a client, it first conducts an inspection of the house, generates an inspection report and then starts the process of renovating the house.
It has built a software that gives home owners a simple checklist of what all is required in the house. Based on their inputs, an estimation is prepared taking into account every detail of every room. The software helps reduce the time taken for an estimate, to as less as a few hours.
All the woodwork required in the house is sourced by Hechpe. It also takes care of the vendors who do the wiring, plumbing, and other related work.
Harish says that Hechpe’s focus as a company is on design, project management, quality assurance and procurement. And every person working with Hechpe on these fronts are its employees. All vendors work with Hechpe as contract workers.
“We decide how much the customer pays the vendor. Because our pricing model is clear, we define the material and procure it so, they only have to execute,” he adds.
The startup works with over 150 vendors for all the various parts required in furnishing a house.
Hechpe charges its customers upfront for design, project management services and any other service which has to be done as part of a project and for the material it procures.
“We don’t take any commission from any of the vendors. Everyone is a service partner and this way the customer gets a better rate. We give customers a list of different vendors. Even when they buy from them, the transactions and filing of the deals are managed by us,” Harish says.
Hechpe’s USP, according to Harish is the company’s process-driven approach and transparency in cost estimation. He claims that there is not more than a 2-3% variation in the estimated and final cost of the project.
Hechpe focuses on projects that cost between Rs 6-20 lakh with an average project cost of Rs 15 lakh.
It has already done projects worth Rs 4 crore and has a pipeline of projects for the year, post which it would garner nearly Rs 15 crore.
Hechpe has been bootstrapped so far and is a profitable startup.
“Today, my revenue and profitability are through material procurement like plywood, false ceiling material, design charges, inspection report and project management. We charge Rs 8,000 for inspection, which we are seeing a lot of demand for, even if we don’t end up renovating that house,” Harish says.
Having done over 200 houses since inception, Hechpe’s target is to do 500 to 1,000 apartments a year. And as every process is getting established, Hechpe is working on automating the process, which ensures that the project is delivered in record time and there is standardisation in quality.
The issues with home design and décor have in fact attracted several entrepreneurs to experiment in this space and Livespace is one of the more prominent companies.
However, Harish says that his competition is with the unorganised market. And the fact that there is demand for an organised player such as Hechpe is seen when Harish says that he has an order book of Rs 7 crore.
Over the next six months, Hechpe’s focus is on building tools to automate the process of interior designing. It is working on building a design catalogue and tools for project management.
“The entire process will be online and customers will be able to track it in real time and at all times know what is happening with the designing of their house,” Harish says.
But Harish recognises the fact that when it comes to designing a home, not everything can be online. There has to be touch and feel.
Hechpe is now planning to set up a design studio where everything will be displayed, allowing customers to physically look at woodwork, light options and more. Hechpe will be soon setting up a 5,000-6,000 square feet studio.
The biggest challenge for Hechpe is skilled labour. To overcome this, it is also planning to either partner with institutes that teach carpentry or set up its own training school.
The idea is to generate both talent and infrastructure to scale up and eventually be able to do 500 apartments a year with the same quality.
This article has been produced with inputs from T-Hub as a part of a partner program.