If you think of Pabio as “Stitchfix for furniture, in Europe”, you’re probably pretty close to the mark. The company started a few years ago in Switzerland with a mission to prevent people from buying disposable Ikea items for a period of two years in an apartment. and recyclable furniture. Today it announced that it has expanded into Germany and raised a drawer full of money to expand its marketing and reach other European countries.
With Pabio, clients can request a personalized interior design proposal with photo-realistic representations of what their fully furnished apartment will look like. They upload a floor plan and take some photos, and Pabio generates a 3D model of their apartment, furniture and everything. If the customer likes it, he can subscribe to his furniture, delivered, installed and insured, for a monthly subscription fee.
“Most people wouldn’t pay for an Airbnb if it looks like the apartment they live in. We thought there might be something. We ended up in the interior and furniture space,” explains Carlo Badini, co-founder and CEO of Pabio. “We came up with the idea to combine interior design with a furniture subscription to make pleasant living affordable for those who only rent for a few years.”
“Like the furniture industry in general, Ikea tries to portray itself as sustainable, but most furniture is never recycled. The business model for ‘fast furniture’ is ‘how much can we sell and how often’. In our case it is the exact opposite. Because we offer a subscription, we are motivated to keep your stuff in your apartment for as long as possible, meaning we offer high-quality stuff that will last for decades,” said Anand Chowdhary, CTO at Pabio. “Furniture used to be of high quality. When you go to your grandparents’ house, you see that the dining table is 20 years old. That was the purpose of furniture before fast furniture became a trend. We’re a new take on that same idea – that furniture should last.”
“If your subscription ends and you move, we will take all the furniture back. We will refurbish it and put it in a new apartment. That means we are optimizing that whole process of how quickly we can put the furniture in a new apartment at a discounted price,” says Badini. “Three or four cycles later, if that piece of furniture is really worn out, we would recycle it.”
The price for the service is intended to be fairly competitive compared to buying your own furniture – a one-bedroom apartment, fully furnished, comes in at less than €200 (US$225) per month, often considerably less.
“Our goal is that we want a maximum of 15% of the rent you pay,” says Chowdhary.
“It’s a good time to build a rental business. It is very difficult for millennials to prepay tens of thousands of dollars to get furniture for their apartment. Pabio makes this easy and affordable without compromising on quality,” said Tim Brady, partner at Y Combinator.
The company currently deploys its furniture rental service at approximately 100 homes. Earlier, Pabio has raised a $1 million pre-seed round. This time, it adds an additional $2.2 million round, which includes Serpentine Ventures, Session.VC, Tomahawk.VC, Pioneer Fund, and DD Venture Capital.