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Abhinav Singh
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56AjithMohanKarimpana Ajith Mohan Karimpana | Bhanu Prakash Chandra

From cars and furniture to garments and accessories, renting business is booming in India

  • "We provide an option to live luxuriously instead of spending heavily on buying furniture." - Ajith Mohan Karimpana, co-founder and CEO of Furlenco.

  • "The rental economy is being primarily driven by the young population who do not want to have ownership" - Vikas Parasrampuria, CEO and founder of Voler

Anantpal Singh Saluja, 28, is always on the move. The Pune-based wedding photographer recently moved from a fully furnished apartment to a semi-furnished one, and needed a few pieces of furniture. “If I purchase new furniture at a high cost then I will have to shift that too and will need to bear the shifting cost as well,” he says. “If it breaks it will be a loss for me.” So Saluja did what he usually does—he rented the missing pieces from Furlenco, a Bengaluru-based furniture renting site. “They shift the rented furniture at their expense. They have also supplied me a damage insurance worth Rs 10,000,” says Saluja.

The rental economy is on a fast rise in India—the market for rental furniture itself is around Rs 5,700 crore and that of electronic appliances is about 03,300 crore and bikes Rs 2,000 crore. More than 100 online rental service providers came up in the last three years. “Everyone moves. Contrast this with our parents, who, when once moved into a house, stayed there for 25 years. Today people are very uncertain in their lives. Owning cars, furniture, house or appliances is not a priority. Also, furniture or appliance is always a distress sale and mostly the trigger is movement. We provide an option to live luxuriously instead of spending heavily on buying furniture,” says Ajith Mohan Karimpana, co-founder and CEO of Furlenco.

Furlenco is present in Bengaluru, Mumbai and Pune, and claims that it offers delivery of furniture within 72 hours and takes care of the wear and tear during the rental period. “We do not charge the customer if the damage amount is restricted to Rs 10,000. Moreover, we refurbish the furniture on demand of the consumer. We also offer dry-cleaning services for any furniture that may be spoilt and relocation to any city where we are present,” says Karimpana.

Mumbai-based rental firm RentSetGo has a wide variety of products on its platform—from cameras and lenses to sports bikes and camping equipment. “Bikes are booked very often for road trips or to move around the city; on the other hand, camping equipment are rented once in a while. We also see many fitness enthusiasts renting cycles on a daily basis. The demand changes according to the city,” says Shruti Reddy, founder of RentSetGo. It is in nine cities and planning to expand.

Renting makes sense for many people. Mumbai businessman Yash Jalan, 23, regularly rents out cameras, lenses and bikes. “I may require different types of lenses to suit the need,” he says. “The whole process is hassle-free as you can give a quote on the number of days you require a camera or a lens and then the rent is collected upfront and the security deposit taken. I have to deposit my ID card to ensure that I do not take away their camera. After that the camera or the lens is delivered at my address.”

What is driving the rental business is the growing floating population and a change in consumer behaviour on ownership. “Consumers are realising that renting products is a cool way to experience it before making a purchase decision. The kind of people who rent out our products ranges from professionals to leisure travellers,” says Reddy.

57VikasParasrampuria Vikas Parasrampuria

A big opportunity for rental is said to be in clothing and accessories. While it is already huge, with even small towns having plenty of them, technology could change the picture. A recent survey by a newspaper says the fashion rental market in India is a 06,500 crore opportunity for startups. Portals like are already quite popular.

Car rental is probably the most popular among rental services. A rented car spares the many hassles of ownership. The Kolkata-based car rental Voler, for instance, offers delivery and pickup at customer’s doorstep, car insurance and round-the-clock roadside assistance. “The rental economy is being primarily driven by the young population who do not want to have ownership. The real demand is coming from a well-earning and conscious young Indian. One may already own a car but at times would need to rent one. The demand is very high on weekends,” says Vikas Parasrampuria, CEO and founder of Voler. Present in Delhi and Bengaluru as well, it is all set to expand to Pune, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Chennai.

The company uses technology to prevent misuse and theft—a black box connected to a GPS system is fitted in each car. It allows the company to detect the speed of the car on real time and remotely immobilise it in case of theft attempts. The black box also has in-built analytics which can gauge the driving habits of a user.

Car rental is growing at a phenomenal rate. Delhi-based Myles Cars, for instance, is planning to put together a fleet of 50,000 cars in 50 cities in four years. In addition to Delhi, the company is present in Mumbai and Bengaluru, and a clutch of tier-2 cities. Says Jayesh Gohel, 38, a regular customer of Myles in Mumbai, “The fact that I don’t have to pay EMIs, maintenance and insurance makes renting a no-brainer. For a car enthusiast like me driving a different car every time is a different experience.”

Sakshi Vij, founder and CEO of Myles Cars, says shared mobility is a solution for congestion in cities. “While people from all ages have embraced the concept, young working professionals are driving the rental economy,” she says. “The next decade will redefine car rental industry in India with the huge growth of self-drive segment and easy availability of on-demand services. The industry will see major investment from private equity players, automotive industry and global car rental brands.”

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