In late 2012, Rahul Garg and Priyesh Neema realized the demand and supply gap in the handicraft industry while attending a handicraft exhibition in Mumbai. Sensing a potentially large market for these products, the two met with several artists, regional suppliers and art connoisseurs to gauge the commercial viability of such products. Later, they conducted three commercial exhibitions in Mumbai, all of which were successful.
During June 2013, the duo teamed up with Megha Agarwal and Anurag Neema to launch Artisangilt with a small collection of handmade home and living products (handicrafts). “As our interaction with customers and suppliers grew, we noticed that there was a demand supply gap not only in handmade products but also in several non-branded, non-standard designer product categories like sarees, fashion jewellery and paintings among others,” says Rahul, co-founder of Artisangilt.
Rahul, Priyesh and Anurag are IIT (Bombay) alumni. Rahul and Priyesh worked as investment bankers with Lehman Brothers and Nomura respectively while Anurag is a serial entrepreneur who co-founded Matchbox Entertainment. Megha has been associated with the handicrafts industry for over a decade.
At present, the seven-month-old startup offers over 15,000 products across 50 plus lifestyle categories. Artisangilt solely aims to bridge the ‘offline’ demand-supply gap by offering a large portfolio of designer lifestyle products which are otherwise only regionally available.
“Our venture is more focused on providing the best quality products clubbed with superior shopping experience to the consumers than building a platform for the mass supplier base,” adds Priyesh. As of now, it has 30 suppliers on board. This enabled Artisangilt to choose from only the best and committed suppliers. The startup claims to provide best price guarantee on all its products, and Rahul says, “If consumers find the same products listed on our website at a lower price on any other well-known website, then we will refund them twice the difference.”
The startup has recently gone international and ships its products to over 200 countries via third party logistics partners like FedEx, DHL and Blue Dart. Artisangilt started marketing activities in November last year, and Megha adds, “While sales are still very low, the traction has been strong.” On a daily basis, Artisangilt gets close to 5,000 visitors on its website and so far it has built a proprietary database of around 10,000 customers. “We strongly believe that the next two months are going to be an inflection point for us in terms of revenues during which we aim to cross at least 50 orders a day with an average ticket size of Rs.1800-2000,” she adds.
Finding the right people for the right job at the right cost has been the biggest challenge for Artisangilt. “There are barely any placement consultants who specialize in startup hiring and most of the candidates are either not up to the mark or are very expensive,” adds Rahul.
For a managed marketplace model with pan India pick-up and delivery all over the world, setting up logistics was the next challenge for Artisangilt. Most of the shipping companies are regional in nature and work in a vendor-customer style rather than as partners with e-commerce players. “The good ones are very big, expensive and often unwilling to work with smaller players,” adds Priyesh.
From 15, 000 products at the moment, Artisangilt plans to ramp up its catalogue to 30,000 within a quarter and 60,000 over the next six months. “We plan to develop a mobile website as more than 25% of customer base visits us via mobile device,” points out Rahul. So far the venture is being bootstrapped by founders and is looking to raise funds over the next two-three quarters.