Nigerian startup Taeillo raises funds to expand its online furniture e-commerce platform • TechCrunch
Individuals or businesses buying furniture in Africa can buy from local furniture stores or global furniture retailers like IKEA. But both options have pros and cons; for the latter, local furniture stores may lack the quality that customers need, while global retailers, in addition to taking several months to ship their products to Africa, may be too expensive.
Taeillo, a Lagos-based startup that innovates around these issues of time, quality and cost through its online furniture e-commerce store, raised $2.5m in pre-Series A funding from of Aruwa Capital, a Nigerian early-stage growth capital firm. and a gender-focused fund.
In a statement, Taeillo said it is an alternative for customers who incur high costs when importing furniture (combined with an unstable exchange rate) and have to endure long waiting times for 3 to 6 months before delivery of the furniture. “…we provide customers with aesthetically pleasing furniture at a fraction of the import price and with a 50% reduction in delivery time to around 4-8 weeks,” he continued.
Founded in 2018 by Jumoke Dada, the online furniture seller sources raw materials from local suppliers and manufactures furniture ranging from sofas and beds to chairs and tables, which it sells to individuals and businesses. The company, which doubles as a manufacturer and retailer, can be compared to Wayfair and the now defunct Made.com. However, because he serves an entirely different market, Taeillo has had to be authentic with his product offerings by infusing cultural elements (he calls it Afrocentric furniture).
When Dada launched the platform, its target audience was businesses only. The initial proceeds raised $165,000 in seed funding from investors including CcHUB Growth Capital, Montane Capital, and B-Knight. However, in mid-2020 during the pandemic, Taiello, relying on investor advice and citing a chance in the market after several walk-in stores were shut down, pivoted to a direct-to-consumer approach.
“It was more or less like opportunity met preparation because at that time a lot of people were at home and the major furniture brands were not online to serve them,” CEO Dada told TechCrunch. “Traditional showrooms were also closed, so it was an opportunity for brands like us to position ourselves and prove that they could buy furniture online without necessarily entering showrooms.”
The decision proved to be a masterstroke; until his kingpin, Taeillo had sold less than 200 pieces of furniture in Nigeria. Its pivot came with the launch of the “Amakisi” table (₦29,999 / ~$85) – a work table and one of its best-selling products – which quickly gained popularity and sold over 1,000 pieces in six months. Since then, the online furniture manufacturer and retailer has expanded into 10 additional product categories, set up shop in Kenya and shipped over 10,000 pieces of furniture to over 5,000 customers in both countries.
In 2021, Taeillo raised a $150,000 bridge from CcHUB Syndicate by tripling its revenue from the previous year. But this growth and progress has not come without headaches. Due to the popularity of some of his furniture among millennials and working-class Nigerians, Taeillo struggled to keep up with demand; on various occasions, taking months to deliver the products. Even though he manages its supply chain to some extent and manufactures around 70% of its products, the startup also relies on third-party manufacturers who manufacture components before they are sent to Taeillo’s warehouse, assembled and shipped. to customers. According to Dada, the reasons for the long wait times – the company producing up to 800 pieces of furniture per month – are due to the collaboration with these third-party suppliers, including suppliers and logistics departments.
“Sometimes as a modern business you have to deal with crude oil suppliers. But recently, we had to change suppliers to shorten the lead time for obtaining materials. Currently, we are also working around strategic partnerships with third-party logistics companies and may set up a logistics arm to help us improve our deliveries. the CEO said of how Taeillo plans to handle long delivery times while admitting the online furniture maker and retailer could also improve the way it handles production.
With this funding, Taeillo intends to reduce delivery times to around 3 to 5 days by prefabricating some of its best-selling furniture (for example, the “Amakisi” table) instead of waiting for customers to come by. orders before starting production. The investment will also help scale its “Pay with Flexi” product, where buyers can purchase furniture and pay in instalments; over 200 people have used it. Then there’s its augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) technology (powering the virtual showrooms), which the startup intends to double down on marketing.
“We have done a lot of work with less. So now we want to attract exceptional talent that will take us to the next stage of growth. In addition, we want to increase our market share, optimize our operations, hack our supply chain and ensure that customers have a great experience,” said the managing director of the online furniture retailer, which has achieved more than $1 million in annual revenue in 2021.
Adesuwa Okunbo Rhodes, founder and managing partner of single investor Aruwa Capital, said investing in Taeillo aligns with one of her company’s investment goals: to support startups founded and led by women. Last week, the three-year-old growth capital firm, which is one of the few founded and led by an African woman, closed a fund of more than $20 million from the Visa Foundation and other LPs for invest in 10 fintech, healthcare and renewable energy startups. and essential consumer goods serving the female population.
“In line with Aruwa’s gender-based investment strategy, Taeillo is founded and led by a woman and has 50% women in its management team,” she said in a statement. “…The company [Taeillo] maintained its innovative model in a traditional brick-and-mortar industry, creating a unique value proposition for its customers in a rapidly growing and underserved market. By leveraging technology in its value chain, Taeillo was able to achieve exponential growth in less than 2 years, achieving results that take traditional furniture companies decades to achieve.