1) The Founder
Akshay Bhatia, a graduate from Warwick Business School. Before setting up Mutterfly Technologies, he had worked for Morgan Stanley's UK asset management team.
2) The Trigger
"During my stint abroad, I was fascinated by the ease of access and scope for monetisation offered by collaborative consumption. Sharing economy is thriving in the West although people there spend big on personal consumption. So, I thought it would work well in India where aspirational consumers want a never-before experience without spending a lot of money," says Bhatia. Also, an average Indian household has at least Rs 30,000 worth of items lying unused and renting these could earn Rs 5,000-40,000 a month, he adds.
3) How It Works
Initially, Mutterfly was a network that connected people with home chefs. The idea was to provide easy access to home-made food, but the business was difficult to scale up. The concept of gadget rental emerged when Bhatia saw that the chefs on the network were keen to borrow and share their kitchen tools. The start-up has raised an undisclosed amount in a seed round and currently operates in Mumbai, Pune and Bengaluru. It offers products and services in five broad categories - cameras, electronics, outdoor gear, party equipment and premium experiences such as movie or casino nights, sailboat/yacht cruises, chopper tours, Segway tours and more. Those looking to rent gadgets will typically find the latest in cameras, televisions, laptops, virtual reality sets and Playstations. Rental charge includes 1 per cent of the gadget MRP plus a security deposit, which is refunded when the equipment is returned. Mutterfly does customer verification, ensures doorstep delivery and also checks product quality before clearing it as rentworthy. Revenue comes from commission per rental, which varies between 20 and 30 per cent depending on the nature of the product. Bhatia claims that the company is operationally profitable and aims to break even in 2020.
4) The Way Ahead
Mutterfly is keen to grab a big chunk of the product rental market, which is expected to grow to more than $15 billion in the next five years. To ensure growth, it is looking at new segments such as baby gear, travel (recreational vehicle, or RV, and vintage car rental), education, co-working, luxury and wedding. It plans to enter Hyderabad and Gurgaon besides 80 Tier II and Tier III cities. A premium listing of gadgets and a try-before-you-buy model will bring additional income. Bhatia is also looking at blanket insurance to bring down rental charges.