By Meghan Hall
In dynamic and fast-paced markets like the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle, both residents and companies are often looking for efficient ways of designing and procuring pieces for their evolving spaces. CasaOne, a San Francisco-based furniture rental company, is working to develop a full-service furniture rental platform that includes 3D visualizations and space planning expertise, combined with onsite delivery and installation, furniture protection and maintenance. At the end of 2019, CasaOne raised $16 million in Series B financing that will be used to expand CasaOne’s hiring technology and engineering talent to further its platform’s reach. The Registry spoke with CasaOne’s Co-Founder and CEO, Shashank Shankaranarayana, and Madhusudan Kagwad, CasaOne’s Co-Founder and President, about the platform.
CasaOne posits itself as a “category-defining” furniture rental solution. What specific challenges were you noticing in the sourcing, designing and maintenance of furniture in residential and corporate spaces that led to the creation of CasaOne?
CasaOne: CasaOne and BureauOne are the two brands that we offer to our customers. CasaOne focuses on residential use-cases such as property management, corporate housing, multi-family, hospitality, and consumers renting for their homes. BureauOne focuses on commercial and office spaces.
A typical company spends a lot of time interfacing with multiple furniture vendors, interior designers/space planners, storage options, movers, and installers to furnish their office spaces. This is often cumbersome and inefficient from both a time and cost standpoint. What we offer is a one-stop shop solution to our customers that allows them to choose from an array of furniture options to outfit their entire offices or residential units very quickly. The wide selection ensures they can choose furniture that is in-line with their own brand. Integrating the entire experience is critical to reduce the time taken to make a space fully productive. Hence, we believe that we offer a unique value proposition.
What role does CasaOne play in ultra-competitive real estate markets in which companies lease space not at the last minute, but months—if not years—in advance?
CasaOne: In the last 8-10 years, commercial real estate has seen a transformation where companies have moved from long leases (7-10 years) to shorter-term leases of 5 years or under with the market adapting to newer models such as flex and co-working options. This has shortened the lease lengths in the broader CRE market and companies/tenants want to retain their optionality to sign shorter leases to accommodate their changing needs (expansion, new offices, etc.). The longer it takes to fully furnish a space, the longer the office or underlying space lies unutilized increasing the cost burden on tenants or reducing yield for landlords. Hence, it is imperative to reduce these lead times for cost and yield conscious players in commercial and residential real estate.
For instance, if it takes 6 months to fully furnish an office space with a 3 year lease, you are essentially paying rent for 1/6th the duration of the lease while it is unusable.
On the other hand, for companies who sign long leases, they can save on the upfront capex on FF&E (furniture, fixtures, and equipment) and depreciate it over its useful life with a longer furniture lease with the flexibility to upgrade their furniture over time without incurring an additional capex.
On a more general note, how can technologies that address real-time inventories and modern supply chain impact the traditional furniture and logistics industries? Are you seeing a lot of technologies similar to CasaOne emerging to address these issues? If so, how is CasaOne differentiating itself from the competition.
CasaOne: We believe this is the broader trend and we are at the forefront. As is the case with eCommerce, customers always prefer a broad selection, faster delivery, and better pricing. At CasaOne, we are able to deliver on these aspects with technology.
Currently, CasaOne operates in six markets: Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Washington D.C. Why has CasaOne chosen these markets for its launch?
CasaOne: We launched CasaOne in San Francisco and the Bay Area in August 2017. Since then, we have expanded to Los Angeles, Washington DC, New York, New Jersey. We also recently launched in Chicago and Seattle. We see a lot of mobility into these markets as they present economic opportunity to people and thus, a high demand for what we offer.
Who primarily uses CasaOne? Why is CasaOne appealing to these types of users?
CasaOne: CasaOne is used by individuals who move a lot for work and life. CasaOne is also used by a lot of businesses in the property management, corporate housing, hospitality verticals.
BureauOne was born out of the demand for a similar solution for our business customers for their commercial and office spaces.
Our customers love us for the hassle-free, convenient, and cost-effective product we offer.
CasaOne recently raised $16MM in Series B funding for expansion. Can you elaborate on how CasaOne will use those funds to expand?
CasaOne: CasaOne will use the proceeds to invest further in technology and expand to other markets.
Is there anything else you would like to add that The Registry did not think to ask or mention?
The vision of the company is to convert FF&E into a utility with metered usage – pay for as long as you use it. For businesses, furniture is a key consideration to ensure they foster a productive work environment. That said, furniture buying has been historically highly inefficient as it is expensive and lacks flexibility — you’re stuck with what you buy. Businesses today value the optionality that comes with furniture being a utility. A good example is how businesses, large and small, have made the shift from propping up their own data centers to using compute on the cloud as a utility. It helps them ramp up and down as their needs change.