View from the sidelines by Venkatesh Krishnamoorthy
This evening I met with the founders of an online toy, books, and CD library Bambaram (meaning "top," a plaything) based out of Chennai. On a monthly subscription, Bambaram lends toys to children aged 2 to 15 years four times a month. You can have four toys in a month or choose to keep the same toy for four weeks. The toys are delivered at doorstep of the customer. Bambaram does not follow a B2C approach but a B2B approach. The customers are corporates and the employees working in them. Now they are starting to experiment with apartment complexes. Started this year in March, Bambaram is on a growth path but with pangs.
To build reliability and credibility, Parul Sarin and Santhosh (cofounders) have researched on multiple intelligences theory to find the right toy for the kid. On an experimental basis, you can pick up a toy your kid likes and follow what kind of intelligence your child has. There are eight intelligences possible. After a brief period of observation, you can start picking up toys that suit your child's intelligence. Parul has also a certificate from leading multiple intelligences body in Singapore.
I had met Parul Sarin in a networking meeting much earlier. She hadn't even launched the library yet. But the name was different. I used to meet her in other meetings. Today I had a chance to meet both cofounders for a long conversation. Bambaram has paying customers and now operational expenses are covered with the revenue generated. Santhosh takes care of the operations. During the conversation with the founders, I found that Bambaram is facing a rather unusual problem. They have customers and the customer base is ready to be opened for floodgates once they have made up their minds to say yes to a lot more. But they are going a bit slow. They need to strengthen their resources and recruit manpower for sales, inventory, and delivery.
Santhosh is facing difficulty on his personal front too. He is unable to find a suitable bride who would say yes to him and his dream (this though on the lighter side to show the real problem startups face). This is the same problem that Bambaram faces from its own employees. Today's youth are compelled to join big multinationals to increase their chances of getting married. Losing out employees to big companies is often the case, as with many startups.
Now comes the ecosystem. Bambaram has paying customers and is able to realize revenues to sustain operating costs. Given the children in the target age group and their craziness for toys, the market size is as big as you can think. It may be somewhat similar to the scale problem that Tally faces—how to cater to the scale. Once Bambaram starts tapping on its viral network, the floodgates will open. Already, it is not relying on marketing. Word of mouth is building volumes. Simply they need to go to the next level. They need resources in terms of staffing and funding to take them to that next level.
Bambaram's problems are threefold: angel funding, talent acquisition and mentor. A mentor to guide them through the growth, funding to scale operations and also to acquire talent would help Bambaram reach the next level. Lack of a good ecosystem in India around the said areas is stopping Bambaram from aggressive growth.
Angels, any one willing to bet on this startup?
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