How A Home Renovation Problem Became A Profitable Business

Web designer Alexey Sheremetyev and programmer Sergey Nosyrev weren’t looking to start their own business when they founded Planner 5D. The two were colleagues working in Moscow back in 2010. Sheremetyev had recently bought a flat, and Nosyrev had purchased a plot of land and was about to build a home. They tried finding digital sites to share design and decorating ideas, but options were limited.

“The idea,” Sheremetyev says, “was to plan renovations and do it quickly, simply and get the visualization of it without too much skill and then share it with our wives, builders, and also make it adaptable so we could change the colors, the woods, etc.”

In just a few nights after work, the pair came up with a prototype. Sheremetyev and Nosyrev continued to work their day jobs, spending their spare time using the platform to work on home renovations and interior decorating.

Earning money from the site wasn’t their initial goal. In fact, they forgot about Planner 5D until a year later, when Sheremetyev learned that a Russian investor was looking to invest in promising teams and ideas. The two colleagues quit their jobs and 48 hours later, they were working full-time on their design platform with a $150,000 investment.

Just one year after launching the site in 2012, Planner 5D had 1M users. Now, there are 26M users worldwide and twenty employees. The platform uses augmented and virtual reality. Developers are integrating artificial intelligence to auto-arrange furniture, floor plans and other capabilities.

Part of Planner 5D’s success, has been its relocation in 2014 from Moscow to Vilnius, the capital of neighboring Lithuania. Rent and labor is cheaper and its easier to access the European market, which makes up 25% of users. Thirty percent are based in America.

The goal is to turn Planner 5D into a home-planning assistant, taking the database of more than 40M property plans developed on the site and powering it with efficient intelligence to find out a customer’s needs: age, lifestyle, taste, etc and then make appropriate suggestions for everything from insulation to appliances with revenue coming from vendors, builders and other service providers.