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Mutterfly: A peer-to-peer product rental platform

Mutterfly is a peer-to-peer network that let’s you borrow your one-off needs from people nearby and helps you earn by renting your unused items.

In a freewheeling interview with Yahoo India Finance, Akshay Bhatia, Founder and CEO of Mutterfly, speaks at length about his brainchild which is a rental marketplace for premium products that offers an easy access to a luxurious lifestyle.

Here’s what he has to say in his own words:

The concept

I have always been a strong believer in the ‘sharing economy right’ and this led to me being an early customer of pioneers such as Uber, Spinlister, Lending club. The more I learnt about collaborative consumption, the more I wanted to be a part of this space. With sharing in its DNA, I couldn’t think of a country better than India to take advantage of the sharing economy.

This is how Mutterfly was born as a food-sharing network connecting foodies with home-chefs with the idea of giving bachelors a chance to experience their neighbour’s dishes. However, a few months into the pilot, we realised the challenges with scaling this model and at the same time, we saw that our chefs were keen on borrowing and sharing their equipment within the Mutterfly network.

As we started interacting with our customers on equipment sharing, we realised the possibilities and the gap in the current market. Based on this interest, we built an MVP app where users could list and discover the items available in their vicinity. We saw some good traction from the student and young working professionals and as a result, we pivoted to Mutterfly being a peer-to-peer product rental platform.

Range of services

Mutterfly’s target audience comprises of aspirational millenials who invest in experiences. To cater to this audience Mutterfly has 200+ products and services across 5 categories. What unites the product range is that they all are premium high-value products with an infrequent / occasional use case.

Categories include: Cameras ( DSLR’s, Drones, Lenses, 360 Cameras), Travel ( Trekking Gear, Travel Accessories), Party ( Speakers, Disco Lights, Gaming consoles, Life size party games), Consumer Gadgets ( Laptops, Tablets, Projectors, VR Headsets), Luxury ( Yachts, Helicopter, Casino Tables)

The rentals for these products start at anywhere between 1% – 3% of its MRP and as low as Rs. 200.

Mutterfly plays a new age role
As opposed to traditional marketplaces aimed at purely connecting the buyer and seller, Mutterfly
provides end to end support right from logistics to customer verification to product quality check
ensuring both the customer and lenders have a consistent experience with each transaction.

Once a customer books an item, they are asked to upload their social, professional and address proof as part of Mutterfly’s KYC procedure. The team verifies the customer’s identity which mitigates the risk of fraud. Following the verification, Mutterfly collects the item from the lender after a quality check on the products. The products are then delivered to the customer.

Our delivery team helps with the setup/demo if required. Customers can always call the company support if they require any assistance during their rental period. While building Mutterfly, we paid great emphasis on making it a tech-enabled business for both our customers and lenders. This has allowed us to make rentals instant, transparent and more importantly convenient for our customers. At the same time our lenders can easily upload their products and track their orders via the Mutterfly App or website.

Benefits every class of people with maximum benefits for the aspirational class Mutterfly is based on the premise that people should own less and experience more. A typical Mutterfly customer is in the age group 20 – 38 yrs old with an aspirational mindset. This group comprises of students, young working professionals, photographers and travellers. From our study, we have noticed that this group of aspirational consumers derive happiness beyond material possessions and look to purchase experiences over things. With standards of living rising year on year, we believe a large group
of customers will move to this bracket and be propellers of collaborative consumption or shared
economy.

On the business front, Mutterfly’s customer base includes Corporates, Event planners, Bars/ Cafes and Co-workings. Mutterlfy aids theses business in giving their end-customers or employees access to premium products without investing in them thereby increasing their brand value in the process. For e.g. Bars like Beer Cafe have hosted Gaming nights and Beer Pong tournaments by renting equipments via Mutterfly. In the process have created unique experiences for their customers and have saved over Rs 80,000 by not purchasing these products.

The size of market for Mutterfly

We are targeting a $3Bn market across travellers, corporates, students, weddings and bars cafes. We
believe that product rentals will give birth to a lot of new markets that have not yet been established.
For e.g. Gaming rentals as a market is unspoken of yet India is expected to have 300 million gamers by
2020. Additionally, I believe the product rental market will develop and complement the rental
ecosystem as it develops. For e.g. Co-working spaces or rental homes could definitely use product rental services to meet their occasional needs without buying them.

Is the average Indian consumer is ready for this kind of business?
Today, India ranks 2nd in the world in terms of aspirational consumers with 53% of Indian consumers
classified as aspirational. However, when it comes to owning aspirational products, a majority of
consumers are constrained by affordability. This is coupled with the occasional use case and products
becoming outdated within a year. At Mutterfly, we are solving this problem by providing a platform
where consumers can access premium products without buying them.

Furthermore, India has never been younger. An analysis by Bloomberg, reveals that the country will
have the world’s largest workforce by the year 2027 and, more importantly, two-thirds of our
population are under the age of 35.These ‘under 35-year-olds’ are seeking a life of adventure and
spontaneity, quality experience is everything and they are always on the look-out for experiences that
keep them happy and satisfied. This aspirational millennial consumer today is driven by experience and convenience which has led to the success of rental platforms such as uber, airbnb etc. I believe product rentals is the next industry that is waiting to be disrupted as it offers the aspirational millenial a chance to live the luxury life he always imagined at a fraction of the cost.

Mutterfly’s future

Our vision for Mutterfly is a 1 stop platform that lets users experience premium products without buying them. With this, we will continue to build our product based on consumer aspirations and our next three verticals include Weddings, Luxury vehicles and Baby rentals.