And yet there is someone who thought of taking this amusing form of art to another level altogether. A computer science graduate, Geeth was struck with the idea of offering professional caricatures and cartoons as gifting options when he observed two friends battling for a fresh idea for a unique gift that would leave a lasting impression.
Thus began his adventure in entrepreneurship through Skechme.com, a one-of-its-kinds platform that allows a user to get customized cartoons, caricatures and sketches of their loved ones embedded or printed on several products like mugs, tees, mouse pads, frames etc.
Says Geeth “Our concept is basically that of gifting a dream which is the primary differentiator. One can get a caricature with any theme (dream) in mind. Imagine yourself landing a punch on your boss' jaw or maybe strolling along the Alps with Leonardo Dicaprio for company or perhaps partying with your entire family at the Great Wall of China.”
And while this description certainly gets one excited, the process as we are informed is as simplified, requiring no personal interaction right till the time the gift reaches the recipient. In four easy steps that start with one uploading the required photograph, then describing the desired theme, selecting a style and finally checking out, the gift will have reached the doorstep, as Geeth says ‘well before the party starts’.
Having started with the basic idea of gifting, the company has made a natural progression to using cartoons and caricatures for domains like social media, live entertainment as also corporate solutions like marketing, advertising, corporate communication and others. Now reaching out to create presence in both the B2C and the B2B space, the current business model of Skechme rests on selling cartoons and caricatures online, via partners and retailers.
Marketing and spreading word of mouth, however have posed as challenges to the team who regret having underestimated marketing costs, yet they have dealt with it using effective new media techniques and other communication.
For someone who claims that entrepreneurship ‘just happened’ to him, Geeth surely has made advances in a short time since starting up in January 2009. “I had been a part of a lot of startup communities and hence surrounded by entrepreneurs and a lot of entrepreneurship gyan all around. Hence you could say, I was only awaiting an opportunity to seize my chance at applying what I had observed. Not having to convince too many people, I grabbed my opportunity and dived headlong into the ocean.” elucidates the now proud entrepreneur.
Fortunate to have received the support of family and friends in raising seed capital, Geeth’s monetary investment in Skechme’s initial business has been Rs. 5 lakh and he is aware of the many challenges that need to be overcome in order to make it big. Not a believer in making plans on paper, Geeth admits that while there are no huge plans for scaling up as yet, he considers getting Skechme to run live itself an achievement.
“The biggest challenge so far has been finding people who are right fits and passionate about startups. Although we’ve gone from a one man show to an active six member team, we’re yet to come across dynamic people willing to work in an uncertain environment as that of a new venture.”
Which is why Geeth’s only vision for the coming year is to be able to move to a full-fledged office with an employee strength of atleast 20 people.
“Highs and lows appear in quick succession. What is important is that one enjoys it and does not feel shy to ask for help. At the end of the day it is the passion that keeps one going as also the adventure and tons of knowledge that come with being entrepreneur.” signs off Geeth.