Start-up spotlight

Interview with Laura Seiler, Lyght Living

Laura Seiler is one of the two women behind the start-up Lyght Living, an online shop for rental furniture. In our interview, the Berlin native tells us how the company differs from its competition, why social media is a major driver for the young brand and what role the millennial generation plays.

Mar 02 2020

Ms Seiler, your rental furniture is not only competing with IKEA but also with other start-ups. What do you do better than or differently to the Swedish furniture group and your competitors?

First and foremost, we offer customers absolute flexibility. We’re part of our target group ourselves, so we know from our own experience how quickly the millennial generation’s tastes and living situations can change. 

We set great store by offering our customers the utmost degree of flexibility. That means that our customers can swap, return or purchase their products at any time – and never pay more than the retail price. So it’s a very fair alternative to buying. 

We also offer a comprehensive service package, which includes delivery and furniture assembly – and there’s no extra charge for that, either. Everything’s delivered in one go and within two weeks. That way, we offer a great deal of convenience.

Our range is another important factor that our customers appreciate. As well as essentials, our multibrand offer also includes selected design classics.

Why should I, as a consumer, rent a piece of furniture instead of buying it? 

People all around the world long for greater flexibility when it comes to their home furnishings, and they want easy access to high-quality furniture without high purchasing costs. Our service is aimed at mobile people who move more often, so they only live in one place for a certain length of time. 

For them, it’s not worth buying furniture, and they’d like to stay flexible when it comes to home furnishings rather than getting tied down. This particularly relates to millennials, between the ages of 20 and 45, who live in big cities and are open to new business models. 

But Lyght Living is also the first port of call for stylish home furnishings for anyone who wants to try out new interiors trends and ideas. They can rent a piece of furniture for a set period and then trade it in for the next trend without great financial expense.

In addition, our service is aimed at all those people who would rather not deal with the delivery, assembly and disposal of their furniture: all that’s included for Lyght Living customers.

Start-up Lyght Living offers furniture to rent @ Lyght Living

How do typical rental customers differ from traditional furniture buyers?

The typical rental customer is eager to try out new things and reluctant to commit themselves, because tastes and living situations can change. Key factors in the decision include a change of job or partner, or the desire for a flexible upgrade to trendy designer furniture.

Could you give us a couple of insights into your business? How is it financed? How do you promote your brand and your service?

Lyght Living customers pay a monthly rental fee. By refurbishing furniture and renting it out multiple times, we exceed the margins of traditional retail companies.

Our brand is an important unique selling point for us. Lyght Living is inspirational, but still very approachable, authentic and fun. We’re in constant dialogue with our customers, so we’re very active on social media, which is a major driver for our business. 

On the product side, we’re growing with the support of selected manufacturers and retailers, who we’re gradually adding to our product portfolio.

Sustainability plays an essential role at Lyght Living. © Lyght LivingHow do you manage to bring pieces of furniture back into the rental cycle numerous times?

Sustainability plays an essential role at Lyght Living. To extend the service life of our furniture, we have it professionally refurbished after every rental cycle, which means we’re able to rent it out to the next customer in “as new” condition. 

The products in our catalogue are designed for the longest possible service life. We primarily carry pieces of furniture from brands that offer replacement parts, so that – should something break – we can repair the items and rent them out again. In addition, the surface material of the furniture items should be such that it can be easily refurbished once a rental cycle has come to an end. 

We also take care to choose furniture that doesn’t consist of too many individual parts – that way, there’s less chance of something breaking when the furniture is assembled or dismantled, and it will have a longer life. By selecting products wisely and having them professionally refurbished, we’re able to put the pieces of furniture back into the rental cycle multiple times.

What happens if your furniture items become worn or are damaged?

Normal signs of use are fully covered. In the event of heavy wear and tear or damage, such as those dreaded red wine stains, we assume 90 per cent of the repair costs.

What potential do you see generally for furniture manufacturers and retailers who offer “furniture to hire”?

Only 2 per cent of people who responded to a poll we ran had ever rented furniture. The reason most gave was that they weren’t aware that the concept of “furniture to hire” even existed. Nonetheless, nearly every second person surveyed can imagine renting furniture in future. 

More than nine out of ten respondents would also rent used furniture. So, we think there’s huge potential for the “furniture to hire” model. In our day-to-day business, we can already see that demand is steadily growing, which has led us to enlarge and expand our range many times over recent months. 

Younger customers are an important and growing target group – one that sees clear advantages in the sharing economy’s rental models.

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