Interview - Karthik Vasudevan, Co-founder, Global Graynz

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Don’t underestimate marketing

Have fun doing what you do, says Karthik Vasudevan, Co-founder, Global Graynz. “Being an entrepreneur teaches you way more than any MBA does – this, coming from an MBA graduate,” he adds, during the course of a telephonic and email interview with YourStory. Read on.Tell us the story of your enterprise thus far, and the plans for the future.

It’s interesting how every business is triggered by a personal experience or problem. Global Graynz evolved from both. The experience of a ‘Pasta Sambhar,’ that my mom made when she was visiting me in the US, left a lasting impression on me. Also, I personally love cooking, and every time I was in India, I had the hardest time finding ingredients to cook authentic foreign recipes for my family.

I started thinking how awesome it would be to get a variety of awesome ingredients in the hands of Indian cooks who love to experiment and just allow them to innovate! I called my friend – Prasanna – whom I know from college and pitched the idea to him. He was excited, and we started out by surveying a test group, on their grocery purchase patterns, needs, and pain points. The rest, as they say, is history.

We have since developed a great website, set up sourcing, added two fantastic team members in Jayshree and Ragav, had over 5,000 unique visitors to our site, run market tests, gotten real customer orders plus feedback, and learnt a tonne that we intend to apply, going forward.From a products perspective, we have developed a new concept called ‘Chef’s Boxes’, which are all-in-one ingredient boxes that can be purchased from us, and directly from blog posts of creative recipes. We have partner bloggers who we create Chef’s Boxes for. This completely eliminates the hassle of making a grocery list for the recipe, picking the right products, having to shop in multiple stores, choosing brands, etc. We are also finalising plans to build proprietary technology plug-in that auto-generates Chef’s Boxes for any given recipe on the many recipe sites out there.

At present, we are working on upgrades to incorporate customer feedback, adding brand new products that have never been sold in India till now, streamlining category offerings, and getting ready for a capital-efficient marketing push! In the next 2-3 months, we aim to raise a seed investment to help us move forward at an accelerated pace.

Give us a view of the industry you operate in.

As most people are aware, e-commerce is a hot domain in India these days. We operate in a beautiful niche within online groceries – rare and eclectic ingredients from around the world. This market is growing; pastas alone are growing at 50-60% annually in our country.

Approaching it from another angle, over a million Indians follow international food blogs regularly. Also, there are over 90,000 NRI families coming back to India each year, and these people know multi-cuisine food. Though the TAM (Total Addressable Market) for a rapidly evolving market is hard to determine, research shows upward trends, and estimates that the size of the market will be worth anywhere from $400 million to $600 million annually by 2015.

Your advice to wannabe entrepreneurs.

Have fun doing what you do! Being an entrepreneur teaches you way more than any MBA does – this is coming from an MBA graduate.

Lesson #1: Don’t underestimate marketing – it is hard, make sure you have the value proposition nailed down!

Lesson #2: A brand is not the logo, the tagline or anything you come up with, it is what exists in the consumers’ mind as a perception of your product/ service. It takes a couple of mistakes to learn this stuff.

Most importantly, business concepts aside, a start-up is about people, it is critical to surround yourself with awesome people – something we have gotten right for sure.

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