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O2O home renovation startup aims to reset industry’s quality standards with pre-A financing

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O2O home renovation startup Aijiaji has received RMB 11 million (USD 1.7 million) in Pre-A series financing just over a year after it was formed.

The investment comes from River Capital, a VC firm focused on early financing for Internet+, new consumption, smart hardware and big health projects and startups.

Shenzhen-based Aijiaji has completed 200 renovation projects to date and has plans to enter three to five cities in the Pearl River Delta in 2016. Its services are aimed at young people in the post-80s and post-90s generations who have never renovated before, making the process easy and affordable for them. Clients can receive project estimates and book online, or visit one of the company’s offline showrooms. Then staff will visit the client’s home for measurements and talk about design. Transactions are conducted online, and clients can oversee the entire process online though the supervisor uploading pictures after predetermined stages of renovation.

The company’s CEO Zhou Ping is a veteran of 58 Tongcheng, China’s largest classifieds site, which acquired its rival last year.

Aijiaji aims to solve the problems that plague the traditional home renovation industry.

“Renovations not meeting standards, a complicated process, poor use experience, these are problems that desperately need solving in the home renovation industry,” Zhou told Lieyunwang, a news portal for tech entrepreneurs.

Traditional renovation has a very non-transparent process, and there isn’t a system in place to ensure quality. Aijiaji aims to solve these problems and give control of the process back to the consumer.

In traditional home renovation, the project manager may add unnecessary materials and rush the job to make more money. Aijiaji has divided this role into two parts, replacing it with an IT system and a supervisor. It claims to have developed a digital system to calculate project schedules and pricing, creating a way to standardize these two aspects.

Currently, the online home renovation field is a huge, but widely dispersed market valued at thousands of billions of RMB. According to Zhou, unlike other fields, it has not yet been dominated by one big company or by the big three, Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent (BAT).

The big online home renovation companies like Tubatu and Qijia look pretty similar to traditional home renovation companies, providing only services as a platform to connect construction companies and consumers. Even with Qijia’s pay after completion system, it’s still hard to control quality. iKongjian, famous for its RMB 699/square meter, done in 20 days guarantee, uses its own construction crews, but it was found to have contracted work to outside companies when it received more orders than it could fulfill.

Compared to these companies that have completed thousands of projects, Aijiaji is small with only 60 staff. It uses workers who have completed a training process and who have completed tests to ensure quality standards are met. Its competitive edge may be its technological solution to problems of quality that plague traditional home renovation.

(Top photo from Baidu Images)

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