Buying books is now just a ring away: Entrepreneur Abhishek Tripathi on Ring-a-Book.
Ring-a-Book - the concept
Ring-a-book is a new way of searching for, ordering and owning a book in single step. You may ring/SMS for a specific title that you are looking for, or even ask for suggestions on the best in a given category. The ordered book is delivered at your door-step within 24 working hours, at a price lesser than MRP and the shipping is free. Hence, Ring-a-Book saves you from the hassle of going to various bookstores to find the book that you are looking for. And the ‘cash on delivery’ facility makes it very easy to order books.
I love books and have been an avid reader. I had always thought of doing something around books. Many times, I personally faced huge difficulty in procuring a book. It becomes very difficult to travel in traffic and reach a big book store to buy books. I wanted to ease the life of people, by launching a "comfort service", thus this idea for Ring-a-Book came to my mind. Bringing the entire store on your mobile or fingertip is the objective of Ring-a-Book, hence the tag line "Ordering simplified, Reading amplified”. We see a lot of people reading more and more once they can buy the books so easily.
I am from Varanasi. I did my schooling from Delhi Public school, Nigahi. After 12th class, I came to Bangalore for my higher studies. I graduated in life science from The Oxford College of Science, but, did not find myself interested in the course. I went on to pursue MBA in finance at PES school of engineering. Currently, I am in my final semester of MBA.
On being a student entrepreneur
A student entrepreneur does not have much to lose, hence becoming an entrepreneur while you are still a student is the best time to startup and take risks.
On acquiring the first few customers
Acquiring first few customers was not so difficult as the concept of Ring-a-Book is so unique that whoever got to know about the service got excited to use it and hence many people gave it a try and liked the overall simplified service. My second customer told us that "if Ring-a-Book would have started a year back, he would have saved almost 50 thousands rupees by now", which gave me the confidence to go on with the idea. The very first customer was of course a friend, who referred us to many other customers. But, the biggest challenge is to create awareness about the service.
How many clients have you acquired during the pilot phase? Tell us about the big launch you have in store for Ring a Book.
We acquired around 75 customers during the pilot phase which includes friends and family as well. Currently, we have about 100 customers. These include regular customers who keep buying through us. Soon Ring-a-Book is going national, not only in metros, but we will cover almost all tier 2 and tier 3 cities. We are looking forward for this big national launch.What were your biggest learnings during the pilot phase? What modifications have you made to the service?
Identifying the reading interest of customers was the biggest challenge during the pilot phase and because of which we are coming up with customized ordering service where in the customers can avail the offers from their customized cart. Customers want to use social networking sites to order their books while they are on social sites hence we came up with our dedicated fan page which interacts with the customer and helps us to understand them even more and serve them in a better way.
Where do you see Ring-a-Book an year down the line?
Ring-a-Book at present is selling 50 books in a month, an year down the line we are looking for this number to be almost 1500 books in a month. We see ourselves as the number one player in the phone based ordering and amongst the top 3 in the online space of book world, an year down the line. We believe that the reading experiences will be enhanced when the readers know the author better. We also believe in encouraging Indian authors to write more and give us better reading experiences. “Autho” is a page on our website, dedicated for author-reader interactions, where we encourage the reader to ask questions to the author and try to encourage the author to answer those questions. Hence Ring-a-Book not only wants to achieve the number of sales, but also wants to encourage Indian authors to write more and aspires to develop a good reading habit in our Indians.
What is your revenue model?
The revenue model works on the basis of the demand, we stock mostly best sellers, new releases and fast moving books and otherwise procure books on the order basis. We do not maintain a heavy inventory as there are other crucial costs to be incurred on logistics and packing of the books. Since, we also have an option of customers placing the order through our website so the revenue model is much like an online book store. In the coming year we would be looking for a decent revenue bracket which helps us grow more and provide much real exciting service to our customers.
How did you raise the initial money to startup? Are you planning to fundraise?
I got initial funding from my father, brother-in-law and a friend. Currently, we are not looking at fundraising, but, as we scale up we will definitely take interest in fundraising.
Who are your competitors?
Since Ring-a-Book is a blend of many unique features such as ordering just by SMS, facebook ordering, order on a call, free delivery, cash on delivery, so I don't see much of competition, even though there are other online book stores in space but they are not so simplified in terms of ordering a book.
You are a late entrant in this market(considering there are other online book stores, and it might be easy for them to enter into this space as well). What is your competitive advantage?
The tag line of Ring-a-Book says "Ordering Simplified, Reading Amplified", hence our biggest competitive advantage is “simplifying the entire concept of a book store". We not only sell books but also socialise the entire process from end to end. Most of the times the customers are not sure of any specific book under a given category, hence unlike the other stores we at Ring-a-Book suggest the best books to the customers in that particular category. Experience of the customers while buying/ordering a book is very important for us and we focus on that point very seriously. As this concept is new and unique, other online stores are already doing their business by keeping the priority of online business, they have not ventured into this space yet. And we will always retain the advantage of first mover and try to gain the customers database with us by creating a good customer loyalty.
Anything else that you want to tell us.
YourStory.in acts as a catalyst to encourage young entrepreneurs, as we get to read a lot of interesting experiences of young and talented entrepreneurs. I congratulate the efforts you guys put into this.
We at YourStory wish Abhishek and his team good luck. For more details check out http://ringabook.com/ and http://www.facebook.com/ringabook Why wait, lets order a book by dialing next time. And tell us how you liked the experience.