Nigerian startup Taeillo raises funding to scale its online furniture e-commerce platform
Businesses and individuals can buy furniture in Africa from local furniture shops or global furniture retailers such as IKEA. Both options have their pros and cons. For instance, local furniture stores might not be able to provide the quality clients require, while global furniture retailers can take several months to ship products to Africa.
Taeillo, a Lagos-based startup innovating around these issues relating to time, quality and cost via its online furniture e-commerce store, has raised $2.5 million in “expansion” funding from Aruwa Capital, a Nigeria-based early-stage growth equity and gender-lens fund.
Taeillo stated that it was an alternative to customers who have to wait for furniture delivery and incur high import costs. “… we provide customers with aesthetically pleasing furniture pieces at a fraction of the importation price and with a 50% reduction in delivery time to about 4-8 weeks,” it continued.
Founded in 2018 by Jumoke Dada, the online furniture seller sources raw materials from local suppliers and manufactures furniture pieces from sofas and beds to chairs and tables, which it sells to individual customers and businesses. The company doubles as a retailer and manufacturer. It serves a completely different market , Taeillo must be authentic with its product offerings by incorporating cultural elements (it refers them as Afrocentric furniture).
When Dada launched the platform, it was only for businesses. The initial product brought in $165,000 in seed funding from investors such as CcHUB Growth Capital, Montane Capital and B-Knight. However, in mid-2020, during the pandemic, Taiello, leaning on investors’ guidance and citing a chance in the market after several walk-in stores halted operations, pivoted to a direct-to-consumer approach.
” It was more or less opportunity meeting preparation because, at the time, many people were at their homes and the leading furniture brands weren’t online to serve them,” CEO Dada said to TechCrunch. “Traditional showrooms were locked up too, so that was an opportunity for brands like us to position ourselves and prove that they could buy furniture online without necessarily going into showrooms.”
The decision proved a masterstroke; up until its pivot, Taeillo had sold under 200 pieces of furniture in Nigeria. Its pivot came with the launch of the “Amakisi” table (N29,999/~$85) — a work table and one of its best-selling products — which quickly gained popularity and sold over 1,000 pieces in six months. Since then, the online furniture manufacturer and retailer has expanded into 10 additional product categories, moved into Kenya and shipped more than 10,000 pieces of furniture to over 5,000 customers in both countries.
In 2021, Taeillo raised a $150,000 bridge round from CcHUB Syndicate as it tripled its revenue from the previous year. However, this growth and progress was not without its challenges. Taeillo’s furniture is very popular among the Nigerian millennials and working-class population. However, it has had difficulty meeting demand. On several occasions, it took months to deliver products. Though it manages its supply chain to an extent 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 extended wait times – with the company producing as many as 800 pieces of furniture monthly – are due to working with these third-party providers, including suppliers and logistics services.
“Sometimes, as a modern business, you must deal with crude suppliers. Recently, however, we had to change our suppliers in order to reduce the time it takes to get the materials. We’re also looking at strategic partnerships with third party logistics companies and might establish a logistics arm.
With the funding, Taeillo plans to reduce delivery times to approximately 3-5 days. Instead of waiting for customers to place orders, it will pre-manufacture some of its most popular furniture (for example, the “Amakisi”) before starting production. The investment will also help scale its “Pay with Flexi” product, where shoppers can buy furniture and pay in installments; over 200 people have used it. The startup plans to increase its marketing efforts for its augmented reality (AR/VR), and virtual reality (VR/AR) tech (powering virtual showrooms).
” We’ve done a lot with very little. We now want to find outstanding talent to take us to the next stage of growth. We want to increase market share, optimize operations and hack our supply chain, so we want to ensure that customers have a great shopping experience.” The chief executive of the online furniture retailer said. They made more than $1 million in annual revenue in 2021..
Adesuwa Okunbo Rhodes is the founder and managing partner of sole investor Aruwa Capital. She said that investing in Taeillo aligns to one of her investment objectives: supporting women-led startups. Last week, the three-year-old growth equity firm, which is one of the few founded and run by an African woman, closed a $20 million fund from Visa Foundation and other LPs to invest in 10 startups across fintech, healthcare, renewable energy and essential consumer goods serving the female population.
“In line with Aruwa’s gender lens investing strategy, Taeillo is founded and led by a woman and has a 50% female representation in its management team,” she said in a statement. “… Taeillo has kept its innovative model in traditional brick-and mortar industry, creating unique value propositions for its customers in a rapidly growing, underserved market. Taeillo’s ability to leverage technology in its value-chain has allowed it to achieve exponential growth in under two years. This is something that traditional furniture companies take decades to achieve.
I’m a journalist who specializes in investigative reporting and writing. I have written for the New York Times and other publications.