Inksedge taps on India’s billion dollar events stationery market with customized cardsEmmanuel Amberber
Inksedge is an online DYI e-cards platform where users can choose a design, drop in their photos and text and personalize greeting cards according to their taste. The cards are then couriered to the customer’s address.
Inksedge helps consumers create customized Birth announcements, Kids Birthday Party Invitations, Diwali cards,Christmas cards, New Year cards, Holiday Party Invitations. In December 2014, Inksedge received a $1.5 million ( Rs 9 crore) seed fund to build an online card platform. The funding round was led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA) with participation from Pinnacle Ventures and Milliways Ventures.
How did Inksedge come about?
The basic idea came out of Rohini Chakravarthy’s personal experience. Her previous employment used to make her shuttle between India and US, and in 2013 she was celebrating her son’s birthday in Bangalore. When she went online to check for well designed and high quality personalized invitation cards, she found none. Finally, she ended up buying cards from a local vendor.
Rohini Chakravarthy, founder and CEO, Inksedge, told YourStory, “The whole process of getting the cards, telling vendors what you want to put goes through multiple processes. You have to keep going back and talking to them. These vendors were printer oriented not design oriented. Design-oriented vendors ought to say, this is what it should be, this is where it should go, this is how it should be organized. By minimizing the inputs you need from customers, you speed up the whole process.”
That experience prompted Rohini into looking at the market. Since she had an investment background, she saw this as a business opportunity. She saw a big opening there since India has a big events stationary market. Rohini shifted gears and from being an investor she turned to being a full time entrepreneur and launched Inksedge.
Rohini says, “When I started the company in 2014, initially I was doing both (NEA & Inksedge) in parallel. But after a while, I decided to raise money and do it myself. It’s a big market and a big opportunity.”
“If you look at it, event stationery and wedding announcement is a billion dollar market. India has about 10 million weddings. People spend anywhere between Rs 10,000 to Rs 75,000 on wedding invitations and that is without counting the holiday cards. Event stationary for corporates is a big deal too but for us the family market is the most important,” she adds. The market is very fragmented and not dominated by any one player. Inksedge decided to bring the existing offline market online.
They are more of a design services firm than a marketplace. Rohini explains, “We are designing in-house and bringing designers on to our platform as well. We think of ourselves as a design company; at this point we are not a marketplace for other brands that might want to come-in and market through us. It is an Inksedge branded site, although we’ll work with affiliates and channel and design partners.”
Previously, Rohini was a partner at NEA. “NEA has been super supportive. The other investors are also people I’ve worked with extensively in the past in various investments and that is how I know them. Having investors as partners makes for a great relationship. To me the most exciting part is when I take on an idea and build a company around it. Somebody is betting on you by giving you a capital to go build it.”
The go-to-market strategy
Inksedge is positioning the firm as a design experience company. Rohini says “We’ll not just be selling products but also experiences. We know this is a special moment for them, we want our clients to be more on an emotional zone than a transactional zone where we say, “You want something printed? Sure, we’ll print for you.”
With over 200 million internet users of whom 75 per cent are under 34 years old; Rohini says, “We want to be able to find these people in a context that is relevant for them. We’ll be doing digital marketing as well as offline activity to bring in the emotional aspect of the service.”
“When does a person want to buy a card? Where is this person in his own journey? Is he/she getting married/engaged? When does he/she start shopping for cards? Before they come to the website we’ll try to learn all this so that we can be more efficient,” she adds.
Everything in Inksedge is organized in categories. You can choose a card and personalize it. Once you know you want a certain card, you can put in your photo and text. They aspire to get you in and out of the site in 10 minutes with exactly what you want. Once you put your card, a designer at the back end will review it and call you to make sure everything is exactly the way you want it.
Though they haven’t officially announced their logistics partners, Inksedge has a delivery partner to take care of post-printing.
As a parting thought, we asked Rohini what she felt were the top three skills that entrepreneurs require. She said the skills that are required vary at different stages of the startup, but here are the top ones:
- The ability to focus: If you take a good idea and great execution, you will get much farther than taking a great idea with poor execution. Having a focus - figuring out how to thread the needle and building step by step - is a very important skill.
- The ability to recruit good people: You have to have that bi-focusing where you need to focus on now but have a long term vision. To be able to describe both of the things to hires. Hires are taking a bet on the entrepreneur, a vision and the ability to execute.
- The ability to see opportunity where others see none. Money is made on disagreement; something you are willing to work at but are not 100 per cent agreed upon. The big skill for the entrepreneur is to see where the opportunity is and to be able to bet on it with propensity for risk.