US: Furniture rental service Conjure, curated by designer artisans formerly operating as Mobley, has announced its official launch out of stealth, as well as $9 million in seed funding led by Pillar VC [led by Russ Willcox, former co-founder of E-Ink], RiverPark Ventures [founded by Andy Appelbaum, co-founder of Seamless], and CoVenture.
After testing the concept and proving demand under the Mobley name, Conjure’s recent raise suggests that it has built a scalable business poised for growth and leading the way in the furniture rental industry. Conjure plans to utilise its funding to further expand its collection of “high-quality” home furniture and accessories, broaden its consumer base, hire more designers and artists, expand delivery outside of the five New York boroughs and launch its “industry-first” Bazaar, marketing unique and collectible home accessories.
On a mission to provide consumers with access to designer-curated collections at an affordable price and on a flexible schedule, Conjure aims to allow homes to evolve as frequently as its occupants’ tastes, needs, and preferences shift.
With 9.8 million tonnes of furniture ending up in landfills every year, the high costs of storing furniture and the landscape of millennial migration highlights the need for a modernised rental service, according to Conjure. The company believes that its user interface and partnerships with curators will position Conjure to lead among other more traditional furniture renters and make furniture more sustainable, accessible, and affordable for consumers with its flexible leasing model, whereby renters can take out furniture and home accessory rental leases for any time between three and 12 months.
Conjure was created first and foremost with renters in mind, specifically in New York City where there are an estimated 5.4 million renters. Its model has seen “immense” interest as more organic customers refer friends and family to the platform, and in the past two years alone, it has reported more than 7.6x revenue growth.
Russ Wilcox, partner at Pillar VC and co-founder of E Ink, said: “People love the Conjure experience because it takes away all of the stressful parts of furnishing a room. As a rental business model, the key to Conjure is that it pools the purchasing power of its customers—so the more people sign up, the better it gets for everyone.
“We see Conjure filling an essential and overlooked gap in the retail industry and are thrilled to invest in this latest seed round,” he added.
Conjure also claims to be an industry pioneer for affordable design, as it has partnered with artisans to create curated collections for each room in the home.
Led by Forbes’ 30 Under 30 designer and RISD alumni, Adam Charlap Hyman, the first collection was brought to life. After studying the different architectural and cultural evolution of New York neighbourhoods [West Village, East Village, Tribeca, and Soho] and scouring the globe for high-quality, durable, and unique pieces, Hyman curated a collection inspired by those neighbourhoods that offer a variety of style and design choices.
Additionally, Conjure says that it was the first in the furniture rental industry to launch its innovative concept of “flexible ownership”. At the end of each lease, renters will have the flexibility in terms of what they want to do next, whether that is using their transferable equity to trade in and swap out furniture pieces, or purchase items outright for the fair retail price.
Daniel Ramirez, CEO and co-founder of Conjure, said: “We started with a goal of bridging the gap between the joy of having the home design we dream of and the immense time and investment it takes to make that happen. People’s homes should be allowed to evolve in tandem with their personality and style, and the process of moving shouldn’t be an expensive and tiring experience.
“New Yorkers are constantly relocating, so it’s necessary to have a simple way to allow customers to manifest their personality into their new space. As demand increases, we’re excited to grow with our customers under a new brand with fresh designs and continue to bring forth the magic out of every home,” he added.
Despite the uncertainty and stress of Covid-19, Conjure claims to have seen increased demand for its services as people spend more time in their homes, both for recreation and work. Since March 2020, the service reported a 3.8x increase in monthly signups, and in 2021 and beyond, renters will continue to need to find a way to maintain ease and flexibility with design and aesthetic without sacrificing one for the other.
Andy Appelbaum, managing partner at RiverPark Ventures, said: “Millennials are delaying home ownership and moving an average of 12 times before buying a home. The popularity of startups like Airbnb, Turo and Rent the Runway have demonstrated consumer willingness to rent essentials across a number of categories.
“Conjure provides a high quality, low cost solution in what is already a $12 billion rental furniture market,” he added.
Brian Harwitt, principal at CoVenture, said: “At CoVenture, we seek companies that meet burgeoning consumer demands. The modern renter wants their homes to be chic, without sacrificing the flexibility of relocation or evolving preferences.
“Conjure is the only brand meeting those needs while providing designer products, ownership options, as well as the new Bazaar marketplace. We look forward to continuing to support them as they rebrand and expand their products and services,” he added.
To continue building its inventory of designer furniture offerings, Conjure will also launch a section of its website called the Bazaar.
The new marketplace will host an assemblage of limited-edition home accessories and small furniture pieces unique to each spotlighted designer to help consumers complete their home with collectibles such as art, rugs, curtains, wallpaper, sheets, coffee tables, books and more. In partnership with up-and-coming brands such as Wallpaper Projects, Taschen, and Neighborhood Goods, the marketplace will provide a distinctive user experience exclusive to the Conjure brand.
Conjure will seek to make its mark in an increasingly competitive furniture rental marketplace landscape.
Turnkey interior design company Fülhaus recently created its Work From Home furniture packages, styled and furnished exclusively for the European market, to adapt to remote working trends, furniture rental subscription service startup Føerni launched in Hong Kong in July, and British high-end department store company John Lewis introduced its own furniture rental scheme to appeal to millennials and the Gen Z demographic.