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RodinStar / Startup

How starting really very small has made me profitable in a week

 

Awarded the

“RodinStar” Post 

of the week!!

 

 

Hello fellow Rodinhooders!

I am currently running a service for people to get their instagram photos printed in India. I am a programmer so I made the site from scratch launched it as soon as possible with only the features needed the most.

The link to the site is inkmat.com and is fully focused on only and only Instagram photo printing. I have not included other form of photos intentionally so I am able to serve my audience with the highest quality of service.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I started working on the site on 7th May and launched it on 8th May, going as lean as possible.

To start off, I thought, I didn’t need any automation for sending mails as I could do them myself, so I didn’t code up the automation mails in the app. This lead to me talking directly to my customers which gave me a lot of valuable feedback I gradually included in my site and service.

I also didn’t want to integrate a Payment gateway because it took time, so I used Instamojo as payment service, sending the payment link to customers myself. This allowed me to easily offer them discounts when it was required.

For the design of the site, I used twitter bootstrap and then later used a free theme for it.

For the development of website, I’ve taught myself how to code and even shared some tips with The Rodinhoods.

People loved that they got a mail from a human and not from a machine and it worked wonders. Not even one of my customers have abandoned their carts and most of the people who have signed up have placed an order.

I had no tie-ups with any courier companies or photo printers prior to starting the site. I contacted them after I had gotten my first order. Although, I did had a chat with some of the service providers to get an estimate of the amount it’d cost me to process an order and so I priced accordingly.

This goes to show that you don’t require everything to start working on your idea. Instead of waiting for everything finished, just start with what ever you absolutely need to start operating your business. You can add the fancy design, functionality, integration or partnerships later. Start small is a good advice and I would never advice to go against it. Starting small makes you focus on the most fundamental part of your product and make it as awesome as you can.

Initially, I got customers by searching for #India on instagram and engaging with people who had really great photos up there. I followed-liked-commented and people starting taking notice. I did the same with twitter by searching for “instagram india” and trying to engage with people. This method lead to my first sale.

This method takes a lot of time and can quite frustrating because of the amount of manual work required. I did this for around 2 hours a day and was able to get around 100-200 hits everyday. I also later bought an ad on reddit.com and targeted via demography to Indians. I had put in ~ Rs. 300/- in that ad and made a loss of 40 bucks. But it did teach me some lessons about conversion.

I haven’t gotten any mention on any big media sites (or even small media sites, for that matter) but one incoming link from a forum called hackerstreet.in.

It has been more than a week since I’ve launched and I’ve grown a lot getting more than 1 order per day for an investment of less than 300/-. I’ve learned a lot about selling online and have already made inkmat profitable.

I’ve kept expenses to as low as possible and apart from printing and cost of mailing the orders, I have spent only Rs. 1321/- (This is the exact figure). The money was spent on domain + hosting + one small ad on reddit.

You could do without the ad and keep your expenses even on lower side. You would need to do manual marketing in that case and invest a lot more time in it.

You should also note that my final exams were going on from 5th of May to 15th of May and so this was completely done in the spare time I had.

Although this hasn’t made me a very rich guy but I have something which has sort of taken off and now it is in my hands to grow it from here. It still kind of a side project but has immense scope (at least I like to think so). Not big enough to not take up a job soon and not small enough to just kill it. The baby has started talking and walking, time for him to start running. 🙂

Thank you for reading and giving me your valuable time. May god bless and you get what you want.

P.S. I’d love to answer any doubt you have about starting small. You can comment on the post below or contact me on twitter. I also write regularly here. I am also having a launch sale and the prices have been slashed for sometime. Go check it out! 🙂

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70 Comments

  1. man… this is an incredible story

  2. Dude, this is awesome. I am a HUGE fan of Lean and its so nice to see that you took it to next level..I would love to chat offline as well. 

  3. Which hosting provider and package are you using. Please let me know.I need it too.

  4. I used DigitalOcean for my hosting. You can use my referral link for signing up :- Link.

    Non referral link :- Link

  5. You can add me on twitter and we can communicate from there. @shobhitic 🙂

  6. Thank you so much sir. I never thought I’d get a pat on my back from you!

  7. Awesome man.. This should be Rodinstar Post of the week 🙂 What do you say Alok?

  8. Awesome! Keep learning!

  9. All the best! Good to read such an awesome story!

  10. Amazing! 🙂 This should be an example or a case study at the LSM Bangalore or a similar event that Natwar does. You SHOULD get in touch with Rohith/Prashant/Natwar.

  11. Hahaha.. Thank you so much! It really isn’t worthy enough to be a case study in an education institute. But thanks for thinking so. Means a lot to me! 😀

  12. natwar is already on the thread 🙂

    shobhit – rishi is referring to this event – http://therodinhoods.com/events/the-lean-startup-machine-bengaluru

    sharing your details in a note to all three of them….

  13. Thank you so much!

  14. Thanks a lot!

  15. Hahahah.. Not sure about Rodinstar though. There are better articles out there. 🙂

  16. Oh. Didn’t know that. Thanks a lot!

  17. my bad, i should have shared the link 🙂 (that’s what happens working without coffee late night) 

  18. Hats off…

  19. Thanks Rishi and Asha for bringing this to our notice.

    Hi Shobhit, the story is amazing.
    I am the organizer of LSM-Bengaluru and would love to have a chat with you and see how we could take this forward.

    Please DM your phone number @rohith_v
    Will get in touch shortly.

    Thanks!

  20. Killer idea, amazing execution, superb mindset.

    Inspiring ! Truly. 

  21. Thank you. I’ve given my number via twitter.

  22. Thank you!

  23. Thank you so much for your kind words. 🙂

  24. Congratulations! Its very inspiring and I very much agree with the fact that an idea can be implemented with the least amount of resources. All it takes is to get your lazy bum off your bed, search for the first tool, hold it, look at it and visualize the end product, Bingo!

  25. Bingo! 🙂

  26. Love the story, good luck!

  27. very awsum dude!!!!!!!!

    i have probably got all the hacks to start my own stuff!!!!!!!

    thnks for sharing!!!!!!!

  28. Yes you do.

  29. Hey Shobhit,

    That’s fantastic stuff!  Congrats on the awesome start 🙂

  30. Thank you so much Saraswathi. 🙂

  31. shobhit… as expected, the top of your post got messed up 🙂

  32. Hahahaha.. When I first read the mal about this comment, I thought oops, must have goofed up again. 😉

    Thank you so much mam! 🙂

  33. Hey,

    Great story can you tell me what printer are you using?

  34. Disclaimer – I am a novice in Instagram as a social network. So, I am not sure if I can add an image on instagram which I do not own (e.g. image for which I do not have a copyright).

    I need a clarification (keep the disclaimer in mind) – what happens to the copyright ownership? If one does not own the copyrights and still wants to get a photo printed! How will you compensate the copyright owner for this case?

  35. Well done Shobhit, inspiring.  Taking after your customer acquisition strategy, one market you could consider is Indians living in US/UK/Canada who have family in India ( (maybe #NRI #desi #IndianinUsa ??) they would’ve captured their life moments on Instagram and would love to share them, in physical form, with family/ relatives back home — this way, you could open up a revenue stream in $ while delivering to Indian addresses 🙂

  36. I have contacted a large printing firm for printing photos. After they print out, we are responsible for cutting, packaging and sending.

  37. By Instagram’s terms and conditions, you are not allowed to put someone else’s copyright. They state that you own copyright to your Instagram photos.

    In worst case, we will ask the person to change the violation photo. People aren’t bad, and they understand. Plus, most of the people that have ordered are ordering their own photos/their children/cousins/siblings photo because that means something to them.

  38. That is the plan. Very difficult to track people who have families in India though.

  39. Awesome thought process and execution ! All the Best buddy !

  40. Thanks a lot.

  41. respect and good luck!

  42. Thank you so much sir. This means a lot!

  43. Awesome, Superb,

    This is exactly the only way to do it.

    I am right-away sharing this articles with budding or to be entrepreneurs.

  44. Thanks a lot Anthony!

  45. good one man 🙂

  46. Thanks a lot! 🙂

  47. * RESPECT *

    Hats off to you buddy and best wishes!

  48. Thanks a lot sir! 🙂

  49. Tie up with NRIPA and NRIPO (NRIPO is on Facebook as well)

  50. You might want to join in the site / groups and start networking with people out there:

    Feel free to join in matrimony groups, recipe/cooking groups, etc .. and help them get what they want (share some recipe from other forum in the recipe sharing group) and by the by mention that your main job is to print Instagram photos in India .

  51. I was thinking, how I could help you get more of the online junta in lets say California who are Indians..

    I went to this site http://nearbytweets.com/ and put in location California and search term : Narendra Modi

    Try it out, I aml sure you will be happy!

    Just fire up your twitter account for inkmat and start talking with the desi population out there in California who are online and tweeting right now about Indian topics!!

  52. Do you want to find Tweets within a certain geographical radius? Here is one way of doing it.

    Say you are looking for mentions of “Osteopath” within 20 miles of the centre of Manchester:

    1. Go to http://maps.google.co.uk and find Manchester, UK – point to it on the map and right click. Select “whats here?”. You should now see the geo location appear in the search box at the top e.g.”53.490905,-2.235718″.

    2. Go to the search box on Twitter and type (without the quotes “osteopath geocode:53.490905,-2.235718,20mi”

    3. If you want to change the radius, just change the “20mi” to the number of miles you want the range to be.

    It’s not completely accurate, but it works far better than searching place names e.g. “Osteopath Manchester” where you often get no results at all.

    Source

    Tried and tested, it works like charm even in twitter desktop app!

    (just make sure there are no spaces after geocode)

    Twitter Search : Desi

  53. Good work Shobhit! Thinking big but starting small is definitely the way to go. Keep learning and sharing. 

  54. Hi Shobhit

    Very impressive. Could you please provide some details about the courier company that you worked with? Have you tried India Post, Blue Dart or some other? Would like to know which one is the cheap and the best.

    Thanks!

  55. hey anoop – tanya rao (tanz) posted a comparison of courierwalas – let me dig out for you!

    here you go – http://therodinhoods.com/forum/topics/review-of-domestic-courier-services-for-ecommerce-businesses

  56. Wow.. its a great inspirational story.. Like the idea and possibility of starting very small… Wish you all the best!

  57. India Post is the best in terms of reliability. It isn’t cheap though. I recommend them.

  58. Thanks!

  59. Thanks for the your effort. Really appreciate it. 🙂

    I use JustUnfollow’s app to do this. Works like a charm! (Disclaimer: My day job is at JustUnfollow).

  60. Yup, its a great to get started!

  61. Shobhit,

    This is something, really!

    Kudos for thinking out of the ‘box’ – Instagram just got an unanticipated upgrade!

    A question – What made come up with this idea?

    Cheers,

    Amit

  62. My mom wanting to share digital photos with my grandmother.

  63. hey shobhit,

    how is inkmat doing?? 

    dude you must update us on your journey!!! are you still based in mumbai? pls stay in touch – we must have you make a presentation at one of our Open Houses.

  64. Hey Asha!

    Sorry for such a late reply, I completely missed the mail I had received about your comment.

    Yes, I am still in Mumbai and now working full-time with Inkmat! 😀

  65. my gosh. you must share your story at our next open house in mumbai (dunno when that’s happening!) – who would’ve thought your small startingwala post would become a full on venture?!!

    ps: do you ever come to delhi?

  66. Sometimes things do come together rather beautifully! 🙂

    Sorry, haven’t been to Delhi since 2013. What happened?

  67. Oh damn. I’ll definitely attend this time when it happens in Mumbai

  68. Awesome to know that you are working full time and its working beautifully 🙂

    ROCK ON DUDE!

    Cheers!

  69. Thanks a lot! 🙂

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