Dec 2012 : Did an internship at an online fan merchandizing startup and learned how to make an online store, i already had a bug of entrepreneurship, I couldn’t stop myself more at the place, once i had an idea for “local shopping search engine” in mind.
Jan 2013 : I had a plan to raise money, i had convinced my best buddies to do the thing with me. The plan was to get incubated from our college’s Incubation centre.
Feb : After some efforts, managed to get incubation. Launched marketing campaign in various colleges and placed around 50+ people as campus ambassadors, and 10+ people in team, got the attention in city’s biggest cultural fest. Exams got less attention, and my savings were finished. Money was yet to be released from incubation centre.
March : Started with a coverage in newspaper, got more helping hands, My attendance in classes was decreasing. Managed to arrange some funds from friends and family, to get the thing going. Started approaching the retailers, conversion ratio was very low, even when we weren’t charging anything for making their inventory online. Rigorous catalog photo shoots, night long data entries. We finally launched on 15 march, with apparels, after 48 sleepless hours.
April : We got our first sale, we weren’t able to promote the service due to lack of funds, our incubation proposal was shifted to the next batch. I learned data scraping and scrapped some sites to reduce the data entry work. I started looking for alternate sources of funds, i learned professional wordpress development during nightss, to give the startup some blood(money) to keep walking, one more array of academic exams passed unnoticed .
May : This act of bootstraping didn’t worked well and we had sold only about 5 products by the date, the team started losing hope, the retailers who were on the board weren’t happy with our performance, we were very short on funds and couldn’t promote our service, the team size reduced, there was stress, and there were exams gone really bad. We tried teaching web development to students to raise money, but that failed as all colleges were having summer breaks. More deep into the sea.
June : The team shrink-ed, We were just three people now, it was summer vacation so other two were at home, I had to employ a person to do daily tasks with me. There were no orders as we didn’t have any updated catalog as we didn’t had a quality camera required for photography. I listed Wind coolers this time on the site, it was weird and we had no sales. As a cherry on the cake, my semester result was announced, I got a backlog in 3 subjects out of 6 (I was a school topper in my 10th and 12th, with a very good academic record).
July : I called home and asked for some more money, i also told about my result, i was “ORDERED” to get back to home, asap!. My family wasn’t happy with all this, they were sad, and wanted me to focus only on studies, i however managed to convince them about entrepreneurship and all the tech i have learned in the meanwhile, i got money for one more month!.
August : Got the acceptance letter from incubation centre, still no money. But surprisingly the idea of coolers worked and we sold 10 of them in just few days, it was a small amount but was enough to keep the spark in me.
September : By now we were two people working on this, that means one more wicket down, I again managed to get interviewed in a Hindi Daily, I also became the President of E-Cell at college. We started getting calls from some retailers, we photographed catalog by borrowing cameras from our college mates, we worked for 18+ hours each day in traveling to retailers place, making a small studio there, listing, photography etc. but we were enjoying it.
October : We had photographs and listing of all the inventory but we made a very foolish mistake, we have half-tshirts, shirts, shorts, etc. but winter has just arrived, inspite of all our work, we didn’t got much sales.
November : I met a guy, who appeared to be passionate about the ecommerce thing, we started working together, he assured me of funds, and we started the thing again, this time we started selling groceries, personal care and food from popular restaurant, he was handling logistics and sourcing and I was responsible for overall marketing, tech and logistics for food. I didn’t approached the incubation again for funding.
December : We started really well, and got about 10 orders on first day, it was highest ever, nextday it was 12, and next next day it was 30+, we were doing good, and you guessed it right, it was the exam time! In the end of december i along with some other friends tried to scale this to Jaipur as well, and we started Jaipur14.com as well.
January : When i returned to Gwalior, I got the worst shock of my life when i heard that the logistics partner had stopped the deliveries, I tried calling him but he didn’t picked, the site was on, we have orders and we have no sourcing, or delivery man! I recruited people in a hurry and resumed everything. After two days I found that guy has started own service by copying my design and tech, I was just speechless, but i had created some hacks in the process, may be for this day only, and approached all my suppliers and informed them about the case, the guy has to shut down his service as he couldn’t market it well, and suppliers stopped to deliver him, and his tech sucked the customers. After January 10, I launched a full-fledged online restaurant and milk delivery in college hostel.
The other guy working with me helped a lot and we were able to get the things back again, we now had 100+ orders daily from one college only, and the revenue of 4000+ daily, though we aren’t profitable as we have two paid employees, and operating expenses. Also i got my result for last semester and didn’t got any back this time :D.
February:I had successfully tested and implemented the same model in a student populated area of Jaipur, I am looking for covering more parts in India, and need enthusiastic people for it. We are building a chain of localized shopping portals, and are looking for people who can implement this in their city.
Being a student entrepreneur is full of challenges and adventures, your subject of tensions are entirely different from your peers, you handle a dual responsibility. But if you are goal driven you can manage to handle them all and walk firmly on your road to success.
If you are interested in launching this concept to your city, or want to help me with fund or guidance , Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Update : I had shifted to delhi, and now making this things PAN-INDIA, with a unified domain name.
As a gist of my one year journey I would just remark as
“You don’t do a startup, you live a startup”
of the week!!