As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, home and living have become more important than ever as more people are spending most of their time indoors and working from home. Whereas before people were saving up to go on vacation every year, they no longer want to wait and want to have that 5-star hotel comfort at home. However today, apartments are filled with cheap Swedish furniture led by a few big box retailers. Pabio wants to fix this while offering a sustainable alternative through rent-to-own furniture with personalized interior design.
“Our mission is to democratize beautiful living,” says co-founder Anand Chowdhary. “When we asked our friends why they live in apartments with awful interior, they gave us two reasons: first, interior design seems elitist and expensive; and second, buying a full apartment interior is (a) too expensive, and (b) doesn’t make sense if you rent an apartment and don’t know how long you’re going to stay in it. We figured that if we combine both things—interior design and furniture rental—we can create an affordable package for tenants that’s still very high-quality,” adds Carlo Badini, co-founder and CEO of Pabio.
With Pabio, customers receive a personalized interior design proposal with photorealistic renders of what their fully furnished apartment will look like. Customers upload a floor plan of their apartment and take some photos, and Pabio generates a 3D model of their apartment. If they like the concept, they can sign up, and Pabio will deliver and install all furniture and is paid a monthly subscription fee. They also fully insure all items and offer optional add-on services like electricians and bi-weekly cleaning, so dropping coffee on the sofa is no problem. Once the customer moves out of their apartment, Pabio takes all the furniture back, renovates it, and places it in a new apartment at a discounted price. Since all monthly payments go towards ownership, customers can also choose to pay the difference at the end of their subscription and own all furniture.
Pabio also recently closed its pre-seed round of $1 million in funding, led by several angel investors and two venture funds, Session.VC and Swiss Startup Group. The startup launched in 2021 and is backed by Y Combinator, Silicon Valley’s most prestigious program for early-stage startups. Previously, YC has invested in some of the most valuable startups, like Airbnb, Dropbox, and Coinbase, the latter of which had an IPO earlier this year. Pabio is also one of the first companies founded in Switzerland to receive an investment from YC. Their partners at YC are Michael Seibel (co-founder of Twitch and Socialcam), Tim Brady (former Chief Product Officer at Yahoo!), Calvin French-Owen (co-founder of Segment), Diana Hu (co-founder of Escher Reality, acquired by Niantic).
Prior to Pabio, Carlo founded the Swiss design agency Cleverclip at the age of 20 and bootstrapped it to 40 employees and millions of euros in revenue. Cleverclip designs explainer videos and interactive content for enterprises such as Lufthansa, BMW, Hugo Boss, and Samsung. He was nominated to EY Entrepreneur of the Year and listed under Forbes 30 Under 30. His co-founder Anand previously founded Oswald Labs, an accessibility technology startup that builds products for people with disabilities, and Indian e-commerce retailer Melangebox, at the age of 19. He is also a top open-source contributor and listed in GitHub Stars and Forbes 30 Under 30. As you see, both cofounders have strong startup backgrounds and are ready to disrupt this dated furniture industry while offering a beautiful, luxurious experience at an affordable price tag.