We at YourStory.in recently met up with the dynamic woman entrepreneur Rashmi Daga, founder of Afday.com, a unique e-commerce store for Indian art lovers. Rashmi is an IIM A alumnus and has over 8 years of experience working at the helm of various corporates.Rashmi’s love for Indian art & her passion for making unique Indian art easily accessible to everyone, made her quit her high paying job to start Afday.com
Let us take you through her startup journey so far with Afday. Edited Excerpts from the conversation:
Art for Everyday. How did you come with the business idea?
I was always interested in Indian art and craft. I would always collect local art and craft during trips. My extensive travel to Rajasthan, Punjab, UP and J & K gave me a lot of insights to understand local crafts. I always found a gap while looking for genuine crafts in stores nearby. That seeded the idea of starting Afday – Art for Everyday. Through Afday, we want to bring functional as well as decorative Indian art and craft closer to Indian and International consumers with the convenience of online shopping and guarantee of genuine works.
After graduating from IIM A and 8 years of experience working with corporates, how does it feel to be a startup entrepreneur?
It is a lot of fun and a great learning experience to be an entrepreneur. I have eight years of corporate experience in sales, marketing, people management and operations, and it does help a great deal while running my own venture.
What is the objective of Afday?We believe that “Art” is present in our lives in many forms. A statue can be a piece of art and a key ring too can be a piece of art. As they say, it all lies in the eyes of the beholder. We think that Indian designers and craftsmen - professionals and amateurs are creating the widest and most unique range of art. This needs to be made accessible to the entire world. It is also time that we make this easily accessible and in a format that is convenient. These thoughts have resulted in creation of Art for Everyday abbreviated as Afday.com
How big is the team at Afday?
Currently, we have two employees and are looking to add more people to the team soon.
How has the traction been for the ecommerce store since the time you have launched?
We have got great reviews on the platform, and sales have been growing since we launched in August this year. We have been able to get a lot of relevant visitors to our site in last couple of months and are happy with the results.
Where do your visitors predominantly come from? Any buying patterns that you want to share with us?
We see orders coming from metros as well as tier II cities. Visitors purchase multiple products when they shop with us. We have also seen repeat purchases happening.
How was the experience setting up an ecommerce site in India? Any specific challenges that you want to share with us?
There is hardly any competition for payment gateways in India, and they charge a huge premium compared to international rates. They also take a lot of time to start. We took more than a month to get payments activated which delayed our launch.
How much capital was required to set up?Initial setup cost for ecommerce companies is pretty low and it has been funded with my savings. Major cost however is in marketing, inventory, logistics and operations.
The products on Afday look absolutely beautiful and unique. Where do you source these items from?
These products are sourced from a host of artists, craftsmen, NGOs and designers. We also have amateurs and self taught artists on board. We have a range of products from experienced design graduates who work with craftsmen and create beautiful products that are a mix of traditional craft and contemporary design. We are constantly on look out for traditional as well as contemporary art and craft made in India.
How does the delivery process work?
We currently use various courier companies for shipping the products to a customer. However, all packing and handling is done by our internal team.
How does the revenue model work with the designers/artists?
We have various pricing and revenue models with designers and artists. These terms and conditions are drafted on a mutually agreeable basis. There is full participation of artists and designers in the consumer pricing.
How do you go about marketing the platform?
We have been marketing our platform through Facebook. We are actively working on SEO / SEM plan. We have also been featured in top design and decor blogs which brings us a lot of relevant traffic.
How are you different from similar players?
Our competitors are physical home decor stores, lifestyle stores, gift shops, art and craft stores, art galleries, emporiums etc. We plan to offer a unique collection of art work and products that are priced attractively and are not available in a physical store near you. All our products are sourced directly from artists and craftsmen. Our portal will offer a huge variety of products for a consumer to chose from in categories like home decor, jewellery, pottery, accessories, craft based toys and games and many more categories will be added in coming months.
Under which categories do you see maximum sales?We see most sales coming from home decor and jewellery sections.
Are you looking at raising funds?
Yes. We are looking at raising funds soon.
What are your major challenges of scale?
We see a huge market opportunity for our product range. These products are not available off the shelf in a store near you and the pricing on Afday is attractive. Major challenges in our business are to continuously source products that can wow our customers and taking care of logistics to make sure products are delivered safely in time. We have been continuously working on finding artists/crafts groups and convincing them to explore online sales channel with us.
Do check out http://www.afday.com/ for beautiful and unique artistic pieces.
What do you think about this venture? Let us know by leaving a comment. Meanwhile, it would be interesting for us track how Afday scales.
Well, do you want to meet Afday and many other emerging e-commerce ventures from India on “one platform”? Do register now to attend E Sparks 2011, India’s largest E-commerce Showcase, 17th December, Bangalore