S’pore Startup Qanvast Helps Match Homeowners To Interior Design Firms

As someone who recently bought a new apartment, I am actively looking for an interior design company to renovate my home.

This is how I came across Qanvast – a Singapore-based platform that connects homeowners and interior design companies.

In an interview with Vulcan Post, co-founder Daniel Lim said Qanvast started out with a founding team of three. They were all involved in a previous startup and decided to launch Qanvast together.

Qanvast was created in late 2013, but only launched its first iOS app in February 2014.

The idea for the business arose because at that time many of our peers were in the stage of their lives where they had obtained their first home. The renovation of their first home was paramount in their minds.

We then realized that the only resources then were magazines or exhibitions. There was no online platform for new owners to browse localized ideas and content, and connect with trusted interior designers (so we wanted to fill this gap.

– Daniel Lim, co-founder of Qanvast

The 36-year-old, who is also the co-founder of the online luxury marketplace Reebonz, stressed that the Qanvast brand values ​​are “trust”, “inspiration” and “experience”.

“We wanted to be a platform where homeowners could be inspired, connect with trusted interior designers and have a Qanvast guide to help them guide their renovation process,” he added. .

Get that first-come-first benefit

However, the first days of the start-up were very bumpy.

As a platform that connects homeowners with interior designers, the first thing they needed to nail down was to bring good interior designers onto the platform.

As a new player in the market, we were greeted with skepticism and it was a challenge to integrate the initial pool of identifiers as many were comfortable with their existing marketing channels and doubted the need for a platform. online.

Creating relevant content that would resonate with our target audience was also a process of trial and error. I would say the first 12 months were a big challenge until we finally gained ground.

– Daniel Lim, co-founder of Qanvast

Another major business challenge they have faced is staying one step ahead of the competition.

“A lot of competitors emerged after our initial success (and) we had to constantly innovate,” he explained.

qanvast app
Qanvast app / Image credit: Qanvast

This includes improving the user experience on their website and app, launching the offline experience center and pop-up events, and rolling out their Qanvast Trust program, which provides benefits to owners who hire a username via Qanvast.

As the company evolved, maintaining its corporate culture also became more difficult.

qanvast team singapore
Qanvast team / Image credit: Redbrick Mortgage Advisory

“We believed culture was essential to building a sustainable business, so we were always keen to find the right fit, even if it took longer.”

So how does Qanvast make money with its platform?

At first, Qanvast charged interior designers up to S $ 1,500 to feature on the platform, but it has since changed its revenue model.

“Our new billing model is that IDs would buy a subscription package. For example, S $ 10,000 would give them (the same amount of credits) to use on the Qanvast platform to buy leads. “

Find an opportunity in a crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many businesses and Qanvast is no exception.

During the breaker era, the main challenge was that IDs could not meet with homeowners to discuss their renovation plans.

They were forced to take their meetings online, but many IDs were not equipped for virtual meetings, so Qanvast stepped in to equip them with the tools and platform needed to host the meetings.

Qanvast Hangout, a Meet-the-IDs event / Image credit: Qanvast

While renovations were forced to stop for a full three months at the height of the pandemic, there was an increase in demand for renovations when they were allowed to resume.

This meant that many interior designers were stuck with a backlog. It was a challenge, but also a good opportunity for Qanvast as we worked hard to manage owners’ expectations for deadlines and also matched them with interior designers who had the capacity.

– Daniel Lim, co-founder of Qanvast

interior design qanvast
Image Credit: Qanvast

According to Daniel, Qanvast has more than 500 home professionals aboard its platform, such as architects, IDs, contractors, material suppliers and home product dealers.

He added that more than 100,000 owners have used their recommendation and matching services.

Currently, Qanvast is present in three markets: Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong. Singapore is currently their largest market with around 30 employees.

When expanding into new markets, Daniel said that they “focus on urban cities (which) have a growing middle class who (look at) good design for their homes, and where the interior design market is fragmented.

Going forward, Qanvast plans to continue developing the business on the interior designer front.

“We also understand that home improvement also involves other categories of home professionals such as furniture, electrical, lighting, etc., so we will be looking to expand our range of merchants in these categories.”

Featured Image Credit: Qanvast

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Jothi Venkat

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