It was hurting them to see some of the most fascinating Indian arts die a slow death and they wondered what they could do? Trying tomaterialize this contemplation, and with a strong marketing back bone like Adjetter, they knew they could reach the target market very easily. And hence was created UnWrapIndia, a platform where NGOs, rural and urban entrepreneurs could showcase their products directly to the customers.In conversation with Abhilasha Dafria for YourStory, COO Parkal Suhas Kamath tells us how, UnWrapIndia is an initiative to promote "100% Made in India" products.
Suhas, please introduce UnWrapIndia to our readers.
UnWrapIndia is backed by Adjetter media. Adjetter and UnWrapIndia share a CEO and a management team. We come from a variety of backgrounds including media, travel and retail.
The novelty and ingenuity of Indian art and craft has been globally recognized. However, the superior artistic products produced by Indian artisans are losing out to the mediocre but well advertised and readily available assembly line products in the market today. Thus, the lack of a proper platform to showcase and sell their wares is limiting these handicrafts from reaching a wider audience.
UnWrapIndia aims to bridge this gap and provide that much-needed platform between rural artisans and urban consumers, essentially bringing India’s best handicrafts from remote interiors of our country to your doorstep. Selling crafts home decor and furnishings to accessories and artifacts, UnWrapIndia is perhaps the first-of-its kind e-commerce site.
How has the traction been so far?
We have about 2500 products from 75 different suppliers across India which includes rural artisans from places like Manipur andAssam, or NGOs selling just one product and urban entrepreneurs as well. Our manufacturers are based across India. We work on variety of margins based on the ease and difficulty in fetching products. We are growing 40% month on month.
How does the revenue model work with the artisians you are tied up?
We work with them on a commission basis. Basically we sell at MRP, keep our commission and transfer the rest of the amount to the artisan. No transactional fees, no fees for putting up their products. We have a team scouting for talent both online and offline. Our merchandising head spends about a fortnight each in the North east and Kashmir. I have personally traveled to Ghaziabad, Haryana, Manali, Chennapatna, Hassan etc.
What is your market size? Can you share with us some interesting trends about the market that you are trying to capture?
Handicrafts industry is a $7 billion industry worldwide and Indian handicrafts alone is about $1 billion. With 1 USD crossing 54 rupees, it's time we gave it a serious thought when we buy foreign products. People think of handicrafts as a costly affair. We are here to make a point that they are very reasonably priced and instead of buying them once in 6 months, one can actually buy them more often and consider them as a serious alternative to Chinese products. The price might be slightly higher, the quality almost the same, but if everyone buys Indian, Indian manufacturers will get the volumes and customers will get the price advantage as well.
Do you plan to start your own stores?
Not in the immediate future, but may be towards the end of next year.
How many people visit your site everyday for online purchases?
We have an alexa rank of 50k and we have about 1100 unique visits everyday.
So how did you come up with this idea?
Our CEO bought a Ganesha idol as a gift to someone and he found out that it was made in China. It was a few brainstorming sessions and a few visits to handicraft exhibitions and we were seriously considering launching an e-commerce portal bridging the gap between manufacturers and end consumers. Not many people are even aware that there is so much to India in terms of travel, handicrafts and even food varieties. And that's how we came up with the name UnWrap - India.
What were the challenges you faced while starting up?
Initial challenges were in convincing rural artisans that we were not going to cheat them and that we are here for the long run. We had to make them down payments before they manufactured products, even now we pay them before we procure products from them. A few of them who have been with us from the beginning, don't worry about payment terms now. But bringing every rural artisan comes with the same challenge as most of them have been conned by people who promised to sell their products, but never returned.
Since when are you operational? How big is your team? Are you looking at hiring?
We are operational from July 2nd week. We launched beta on August 15th, so I would say we are operational for about 5 months. We are looking at hiring creative designers and merchandising / sales guys. Our team is about 20 people PAN India, with 13 of us working out of our Bangalore office. We also have an office in Delhi.
Did you fund-raise to start up? If not, are you looking at getting funded now?
We are backed by Adjetter Media Network Pvt Ltd and we are looking to align with like minded investors to take this to the next level.
Are there other players in the market doing similar things? What is your USP?
There are a lot of them, some with retail stores as well. But most of them eventually move to a stage where they dictate terms to artisans and / or squeeze them for wafer thin margins. Our USP is that we let the artisans do what they do best, while we take care of their sales. We aim to create a sustainable sales channel for them where they don't have to keep going to different exhibitions to sell, rather they can stay at home and work on their products and we are helping them run a sustainable business.
What are your greatest challenges and how do you plan to cope with’em?
Our biggest challenges are to source from some rural areas where logistics companies don't have a presence. I had been to Ladakh and there are times, when they don't have milk for 3-4 days, let alone other products. There is practically no transport for about 4-5 months from this place to the rest of India. So even though there are a lot of villages from where people manufacture amazing products, it will continue to be a challenge to create a streamlined supply chain to bring these products to the market. But we are handling them one by one and intend to source from at least 500 different rural artisans by end of 2012.
So what are your expansion plans?
We plan to host camps where people can come and work on what they want while we support them with the necessary infrastructure and support. We are sourcing from more than 10 NGOs who are working with orphans, destitute women, handicapped and blind people and we will continue to do all that we can to help these NGOs self sustain rather than hiring people to go around asking for donations. We already have 2500 products and we plan to have at least 20,000 products by end of 2012 sourcing souvenir products and state wisespecialities from every corner of India. We don't have a second thought about the market that is there and we have already validated it to an extent. And given the choice, we are extremely sure that people will come and buy these amazing Indian products.
For more information please check out UnwrapIndia and do share your thoughts by dropping a comment here!
- Abhilasha Dafria