I would like to thank TRHS for giving me an opportunity to present in front of an awesome audience. It was my first time presenting a PPT on stage and I must confess that I was a bit frightened and nervous. TRHS is a great platform and I love the positive energy at the open house! 🙂
The Blog – Early Beginnings
i2cook started as a food blog. Now that I had informed people that I 2 can cook. I decided to go retail with my first product ‘Peanut Butter’. Hence, I envisioned that I will have a processing unit for organic food and sold my first peanut butter to a store in Mumbai. We have close to 50 stores! Stocking i2cook peanut butter, pink mustard, honey mustard, coconut sugar, liquid jaggery and newly introduced sugar free muesli.
From Blog to E-commerce website
The natural progression forward was to set up a store, hence we decided to start an e commerce website to help sell unique organic products sourced from lesser known parts of India.
So how do we go about it?
We decided to open a brick and mortar store first because if you want to understand really you must live it! We completed our testing and decided to begin work on the online store. We had a sizable audience on the blog and decided to sell first here, while the back-end work commenced. We tried magento, shopify and were still looking for something cheaper. We finally closed in on zepo which fit our budget of less than half a shoe string! We added 30 products and received one order per week and sometimes none!
Work, Work and still not there
But, there was still a lot of work to be done. Add the next 100 products, move from hand deliveries to courier services ( we were initially servicing only 3 cities – Mumbai, Bangalore and Pune), setup payment gateway so that COD (cash on delivery) was not the only option, extend our reach outside Mumbai and procure more unique products.
Now that we had setup the store, tied up with courier services and set up a payment gateway to reach across India. We now had a fully functional e commerce website. We broke even last month with 30 transactions a month!
Dealing with farmers, small time producers and large scale manufactures may sound like a lot of fun but it can sometimes get funny when one papad can taste different from the next or a 50gms pack comes in a 100gms packaging and the customer has to wait for another week.
Large Company vs Small Company
We thought dealing with large courier companies would be more professional but we forgot that as a small company we could keep screaming about poor service but our voices would not reach over the Ganapati festival din.
An incident that I would like to share:: 3 deliveries were delayed by a week without any information or help on why they were stuck. The tracking number just kept telling us in transit. Another three days passed without any solution from blue dart staff. So the issue was taken up my co-founder, Pawan. He sent a mail to the CEO’s desk with the complete report. That is when a solution came through. The packages were delivered and we got a waiver on the charges for these deliveries after two weeks of constant war against blue dart.
The biggest challenge that lies in front of us is to go from 30 to 1000 transactions a month with zero paid advertising.