TryorTrade is an eCommerce platform which enables brands and consumers to discover each other through sampling and helps buy/sell through the marketplace model. “Niche and quality products come at a price and everyone cannot afford to buy it and do away with if insatiated with the product. This is where our venture comes in picture,” says Gaurav Gupta, co-founder of TryOrTrade (ToT).College friends turned business partners
Gaurav co-founded ToT with Rohit Keshan, his college mate at Manipal Institute of Technology. “Entrepreneurship, taking calculated risks and coming up with innovative ideas was something that I did right since childhood days. Final semester project in engineering is a golden opportunity to showcase your innovation and that was when I setup my first venture, Turquoise Sunlabs. We developed tracking system for solar plants and were successful in raising $40,000 in seed capital from the Government of Chile.” However, Gaurav soon started losing interest that venture because he wanted to do something in internet space.
He returned to India in 2012 to set up ToT where he takes care of consumer marketing and client acquisition. Rohit on the other side has a complete different story to share, “From the inception of my corporate journey I have managed the personal care and consumer brands,” he says. He has managed these responsibilities for leading online eCommerce companies like Shopclues, Flipkart, Snapdeal and Pepperfry and that helped Rohit set up operations, customer delight and systems and logistics at ToT.
Why they tried ToT?
Every time Gaurav went to market, he was amazed by the plethora of new products that was promising the world to consumers. However he was never sure whether these products really kept the promised and the option to try expensive products before making a purchase decision was something that was not available to him as a consumer. It was this dissatisfaction coupled with opportunity that gave birth to ToT. Gaurav spoke to many brands and convinced them to join forces, which led to setting up ToT in March 2013. “While sampling is not a new fangled phenomenon, it has been limited to certain geography and only some kind of products. At ToT, we have more than 20 brands and 100 SKUs for sampling by customer and this will only increase with time,” shares Rohit.
ToT says Rohit words is symbiotic in its model for both brands and customers, because it helps the brands get easy access to customers without having to invest much in mass media to reach consumers. SMEs cannot afford marketing via TV, print and radio, which is an important investment for most FMCG players. So it has products from well-known brands like Himalaya, to samples from little heard brands like Azafran and Nirvaaha. The price of the sample is decided by the brand. While sample charge is paltry, some brands have also done free sampling in pilot run and the revenues for the site comes from charging the brands for marketing on the site as well as sharing revenues from samples.
Rohit and Gaurav, in their first breath, reject the idea of e-commerce when they are juxtaposed with other e-commerce ventures. “We are not like any other e-commerce platforms selling products. Yes, the model definitely looks alike but there is a subtle difference. ToT has been set up to promote niche and quality brands,” says Gaurav assertively. Some brands that are not available at local next door stores, especially in Tier II and Tier III cities are using ToT to reach out to these households. “We do not want brands to spend lakhs on marketing when it can be done at a very minimal amount. We call it B2B commerce. Our focus is to maintain negligible cost on customer acquisition,” says Rohit.
ToT has listed its samples at freekamaal.com besides selling them on their own website. The duo claim that there is a conversion rate of 3-4 percent with average hits on the website being around 1500 – 2000. This bootstrapped venture based out of Delhi, have managed to break even and are operationally profitable. Apart from the co-founders there there are around 10 people more people in logistics and operation team.