Nigerian startup Taeillo raises funds to scale up its online furniture e-commerce platform ExamPaper

Individuals or companies buying furniture in Africa can buy from local furniture stores or global furniture stores like IKEA. But both options have advantages and disadvantages; for the latter, local furniture stores may lack the quality customers demand, while international retailers not only take several months to ship their products to Africa, but can also be too pricey.

Taeillo, a Lagos-based startup innovating around these issues of time, quality and cost through its online furniture e-commerce store, has raised $2.5 million in pre-Series A funding from Aruwa Capital, a Nigeria based early stage growth capital and gender lens fund.

In a statement, Taeillo says it is an alternative for customers who incur high costs when importing furniture (combined with an unstable exchange rate) and endure long waiting times of 3-6 months for the furniture to be delivered. “…we provide customers with aesthetically pleasing furniture pieces at a fraction of the import price and with a 50% shorter delivery time to approximately 4-8 weeks,” it continued.

Founded in 2018 by Jumoke Dada, the online furniture retailer sources raw materials from local suppliers and manufactures furniture items from sofas and beds to chairs and tables, which it sells to individual customers and businesses. The company, which doubles as a manufacturer and retailer, can be compared to Wayfair and the now-defunct Made.com. However, since it serves an entirely different market, Taeillo needed to be authentic with its product offerings by adding cultural elements (it refers to them as Afrocentric furniture).

When Dada launched the platform, the target group consisted exclusively of companies. The original product raised $165,000 in seed funding from investors such as CcHUB Growth Capital, Montane Capital, and B-Knight. However, in mid-2020 during the pandemic, leaning on investor guidance and citing an opportunity in the market after several walk-in stores shut down operations, Taiello switched to a direct-to-consumer approach.

“It kind of seemed like opportunity and preparation because at that time a lot of people were at home and the leading furniture brands weren’t online to serve them,” CEO Dada told ExamPaper. “Traditional showrooms were also closed, so that was an opportunity for brands like us to position ourselves and prove they could buy furniture online without necessarily going to showrooms.”

The decision turned out to be a masterstroke; to its linchpin, Taeillo had sold less than 200 pieces of furniture in Nigeria. The pivot came with the launch of the table “Amakisi” (₦29,999 / ~$85) – a work table and one of the best-selling products – which quickly gained popularity, selling more than 1,000 units in six months. Since then, the online furniture manufacturer and retailer has expanded to 10 additional product categories, relocated to Kenya and shipped more than 10,000 pieces of furniture to more than 5,000 customers in both countries.

In 2021, Taeillo raised a $150,000 bridging round from CcHUB Syndicate as it tripled its revenue from the previous year. But that growth and progress did not come without headaches. Due to the popularity of some of its furniture among the Nigerian millennial and working class, Taeillo has struggled to keep up with demand; on several occasions, taking months to deliver products. although it manages its supply chain to some degree and manufactures about 70% of its products, the startup also relies on third-party manufacturers who make components before they are sent to Taeillo’s warehouse, assembled, and shipped to customers. According to Dada, the reasons behind long wait times – with the company producing as many as 800 pieces of furniture per month – are due to the collaboration with these third-party suppliers, including suppliers and logistics services.

“Sometimes as a modern company you have to deal with raw suppliers. But recently we had to change our suppliers to shorten the time we get the materials. At the moment we are also working on strategic partnerships with external logistics companies and we can set up a logistics branch to help us improve our deliveries.” said the CEO of how Taeillo plans to deal with the long delivery times, while also admitting that the online furniture manufacturer and retailer can also improve production.

With the funding, Taeillo plans to reduce delivery times to about 3-5 days by pre-manufacturing some of its best-selling furniture (for example, the “Amakisi” table) rather than waiting for customers to place orders before starting production. to start. The investment will also help scale up the “Pay with Flexi” product, where shoppers can buy furniture and pay in installments; more than 200 people have used it. Then there’s augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) technology (which powers virtual showrooms), which the startup aims to double down on in marketing.

“We did a lot of work with less. So now we want to bring in outstanding talent that will take us to the next stage of growth. We also want to increase our market share, optimize operations, hack our supply chain and make sure customers have a great experience,” said the CEO of the online furniture retailer, which earned more than $1 million in annual revenue by 2021.

Adesuwa Okunbo Rhodes, founder and managing partner at sole investor Aruwa Capital, said investing in Taeillo aligns with one of her firm’s investment goals: to support women-founded and led startups. Last week, the three-year-old growth equity firm, one of the few founded and run by an African woman, closed a more than $20 million fund from Visa Foundation and other LPs to invest in 10 startups in fintech, healthcare, renewable energy and essential consumer goods serving the female population.

“In line with Aruwa’s gender lens investment strategy, Taeillo is founded and led by a woman and has a 50% female representation on the management team,” she said in a statement. “… Company [Taeillo] has maintained its innovative model in a traditional brick-and-mortar industry and created a unique value proposition for its customers in a fast-growing, underserved market. By leveraging technology throughout its value chain, Taeillo has been able to achieve exponential growth in less than 2 years and achieve results that traditional furniture companies take decades to achieve.”

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