Switzerland-based furniture startup Pabio raises $1M in funding to offer sustainable rent-to-own furniture with personalized interior design
In North America alone, the Rent-to-Own Industry is $8.5 billion, according to 2019 data from the Association of Progressive Rental Organizations, a nonprofit trade association advocating on behalf of the rent-to-own industry. The data includes dealers and companies that rent furniture, electronics, major appliances, computers, musical instruments, and many more.
In recent years, the rent-to-own furniture revolution is gaining in popularity as more and more people are embracing minimalist lifestyles and sustainable living. Sometime during the last century, a new trend in furniture was being promoted by big retailers. These companies started to produce cheap, short-lasting furniture made out of plywood and other low-cost materials.
This later gave rise to what is now known as “fast furniture.” Unfortunately, the fast furniture trend fueled by some of the biggest furniture retailers has a devastating impact on our environment. For example, Wood sourced from illegal deforestation is turned into cheap chairs and tables.
One company that’s on a mission to reverse this trend is Pabio, a Bern, Switzerland-based rent-to-own furniture tech startup that is establishing truly sustainable environmentally friendly furniture that can be continually reused. Unlike big furniture retailers, Pabio uses high-quality furniture with long durability that we keep in circulation for as long as possible.
These days, most 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, the 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.
Pabio also offers full insurance on 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.
In an email to Tech Startups, Pabio told us they had recently closed a $1 million pre-seed funding round led by several angel investors and two venture funds, Session.VC and Swiss Startup Group.
Founded this year by Carlo Badini, Pabio is also 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.