Livspace names Square’s Gokul Rajaram special adviser
Bengaluru: Online home design start-up Livspace named Gokul Rajaram, a former top product manager at Google Inc. and Facebook Inc., as special adviser and investor to help the company expand into new markets and boost its technology.
Rajaram, who currently heads product engineering at US-based payments start-up Square, made a personal, undisclosed investment in Home Interior Design E-Commerce Pvt. Ltd, which runs Livspace.
Rajaram is a well-known product expert in tech circles; he headed Google AdSense, one of the two largest revenue generators for the search company, when the product launched in the early 2000s, and he later worked at Facebook as product director of advertisements.
“My role will involve helping Livspace with three main areas: working on product and tech strategy, how to scale the business by expanding into new markets, and on hiring the right kind of talent, especially at the senior level. I will also provide guidance while fund-raising. The product vision of the Livspace team and the complimentary abilities of their founders was a huge attraction in making an investment. Besides, they are addressing a huge market opportunity,” Rajaram said by phone.
Rajaram was a classmate of Livspace chief executive officer Anuj Srivastava at Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, and also worked with him at Google.
Livspace, which raised $4.6 million from venture capital firms Helion Venture Partners and Bessemer Venture Partners, is one of the several start-ups in the online home design and furniture space. It competes with Sequoia Capital-funded HomeLane, as well as bigger furniture e-retailers, Pepperfry and Urban Ladder.
According to Livspace estimates, the online home design market in India may touch $5 billion within the next five years.
Unlike the online furniture retailers that only sell products, Livspace also offers readymade home design solutions and connects customers with interior designers. The Bengaluru-based company bought two start-ups this year—home design marketplace DezignUp and Dwll.in, a curated online network of interior designers—and it’s looking for more.
Like many other Internet start-ups in India, Livspace is betting the mobile commerce will drive growth and is launching several features to make shopping easier and more customized on its mobile app.
“We will be launching a lot of new mobile-first innovations over the coming months. We also want to build a full range of products for interior designers so that they can just focus on coming up designs rather than worry about anything else. Gokul’s product expertise will be a big help as we build a comprehensive set of tools as he specializes in coming up with easy-to-use products,” Srivastava said.