Start-Up

Easing renovation woes with a swipe

Mr Sun's home at The Interlace condo was renovated using Hall Interiors, an interior designer that the social media manager found through the Qanvast app, which features more than 200 designers.
Mr Sun's home at The Interlace condo was renovated using Hall Interiors, an interior designer that the social media manager found through the Qanvast app, which features more than 200 designers.PHOTO: QANVAST/HALL INTERIORS

Qanvast app collates past projects and helps home owners hook up with interior designers

Home renovation can be a daunting task. But the creator of home renovation app Qanvast hopes to ease the pain by rounding up all the information home owners need to know in one place.

After its launch in February 2014 with a capital injection of $100,000 from co-founder Tan Chee Yang, 38, and some partners, the start-up which goes by the same name is now beginning to break even.

Qanvast is the first app of its sort in Singapore, collating past projects and showcasing fully furnished houses for users to peruse and gain inspiration from. These galleries also include design and renovation details, costs, duration of the renovation, as well as customer reviews.

If they like what they see, home owners can contact the interior designer directly through the app.

"There are such platforms for other major purchases like cars, but none for interior designers," said Mr Tan on starting up Qanvast. "Home owners have told us they don't know where to start or where to look for renovations."

From five interior designers on board, the free app has since grown to include more than 200 designers, with over 150,000 downloads on both the iOS App Store and Google Play Store.

The app also has a quote request function for those who may not have a specific design in mind. Users key in their property type, budget, general style and renovation priority - whether they want it to be more cost-effective or design-centric. The app will then recommend up to five suitable interior designers.

Qanvast charges interior designers a fee of between $750 and $1,500 monthly to be listed.

The company has just expanded into Malaysia, with about 60 interior designers there currently on board, and has its eye on "another one or two countries" within the South-east Asian region.

Qanvast, which is currently bootstrapping from a office in Tai Seng, has about 20 full-time employees, ranging from sales and marketing staff to app designers.

Mr Tan estimates that two or three home owners get their renovations done through Qanvast per month. He further estimates that about 5,000 people have used the app over the past two years to secure an interior designer and renovation firm for their abodes.

Most of its customers - 60 per cent - live in public housing, with 30 per cent of renovations done in condominiums and the rest in landed homes.

Social media manager Sun Chenglong, 28, renovated his apartment at The Interlace condominium using an interior designer he found on the app.

"The renovation samples came with a price tag, which gave me an idea of what's feasible for my budget and what's not," said Mr Sun.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 23, 2016, with the headline 'Start-Up Easing renovation woes with a swipe'. Print Edition | Subscribe