This Start-Up Could Completely Change How You Shop

Aarthi Ramamurthy is a really good listener. But, she doesn’t want to hear your roommate sagas or Tinder triumphs. She wants to know if you’re thinking about getting an Apple watch. Which one? What size? What band? Maybe you’d like to try a few? She wants to know if you want to rent it or buy it or try it before you buy it. Whatever you want is exactly what she wants to know, and she wants to make that possible for you.

She is not some Apple evangelist, nor is she a great gift giver (well, she might be). She is the founder of Lumoid, a start-up that lets you try electronics, gadgets, and photo equipment before buying. It's what the software engineer turned CEO says is the future of retail, an overdue improvement that's not changing the way people buy things as much as it's accommodating how they already do. "You want access over ownership," she says. "And, you want people to test drive before buying."

We met up with the 31-year-old at the San Francisco Ferry Building to talk about her start-up, see her evolving CEO style (she even tried on some new clothes from Neiman Marcus), and visit her brand-new office/warehouse. With 2,000 square feet, there's plenty of room to grow, which is good because she's always keeping an eye (and an ear) on expansion. Anything customers want is up for debate. And, if at one point they want to see something big — like a car — on Lumoid? Well, she says, never say never.

Read on for our Q&A with Aarthi Ramamurthy.