“Kalakratti is an online art gallery, dedicated to all kinds of handmade art work. Kalakratti allows and assists anyone, students to professionals, to expose their work potential buyers. Kalakratti embraces the concept of freelancing. We help all artists who want to take their mind off from selling their work, and focus more on their strokes and achieving perfection,” explains Shubhashish Shukla, founder. He knew that he would be starting up in the e-commerce segment, just with what product he had no idea. He says, “After my first startup failed, I was approached by a friend to develop a travel related startup. While studying and researching for that, the idea of starting an ecommerce came to my mind. Still I was not sure what I will be selling.
Then one day, while travelling from Meerut to Noida, to attend Java classes I thought that no e-commerce is focusing on artwork. The idea started evolving from there.”
Shubhashish is non-committal both about his lack of experience and about the failure of his first startup. “Before Kalakratti, I was busy blogging, developing web applications for myself failing in my debut as an entrepreneur. I also tried video blogging but that didn’t go anywhere either,” he shrugs off. Despite not having much to celebrate for at the moment- “Kalakratti is self-funded. We applied for some seed funding but received a negative response”- Shubhashish’s attitude is blindingly positive. He knows his venture is going to be successful courtesy of the best advice he has ever received: “We live in a country where a rikshawala can give you an hour long lecture on Modi, and that person has no idea about himself.”
At first impression, Kalakratti is simply an e-commerce company dedicated to artwork. But as a company our aim is not to settle for being just another e-commerce startup,” Shubhashish emphasises.
He continues, “Kalakratti is intended to be a complete platform for artists, art collectors and people looking for home decor products. We allow artists to place their artwork online for free. We charge a small fee only after the artwork is sold. This way any artist can work as a freelancer.”
As of now Kalakratti is divided into two components- the e-commerce platform and an art blog dedicated to sharing everything about arts, a module where artists contribute and increase their online presence.
There are two more components under development. “But it is too early to talk about those,” he flourishes.
Right now he is enthusiastically tracking micro levels of growth. “At this stage, everything that converts is exciting. Every sign up, deal, newsletter subscription, a user staying for half hour or so. Each and every stat that makes sense and shows growth is amazing,” he says.
There are challenges aplenty though. “Our main goal is to promote freelancing and this requires us to reach to out to as many artists as possible. Reaching artists at that granular level is a big challenge.
If we talk about the sales side, we have instituted delivery throughout the country. The tricky part is providing our services to artists. We have strong plan on scaling and expanding our services to entire country step by step,” says Shubhashish.
Despite difficulties, he is heartened by the quick pace of growth in the country. “In a developing country like India every industry is evolving at an immense pace. Same is applicable to the art industry. When we talk about evolution it is the gradual changes that lead to a better adapted form. Kalakratti is one example of that gradual change, working on transforming it to a major one.”
When addressing major milestones, he is quick to burst the bubble. “No major mile stone yet. None big enough to discuss. At this nascent stage I won’t say the response has been great because it is not constant, a lot of fluctuation is there. When talking about online businesses, there are two types of conversions that matter- major and minor or micro conversions. Both of them are important, but don’t have exact value. You have to work on approximation.”
Vagaries of starting up
“It is true that startups and business ventures may cost you your friends,” Shubhashish muses.
“The worst experience we had,” he says, “Came courtesy of this ‘Earn while you learn program we have on our platform. We have planned to place artwork of students pursuing diploma and degree in fine arts and applied arts, online. While working on it we contacted colleges, institutes and universities. While we expected a strong positive reactions and sing ups from students, instead we ended up getting advice on how we should work improve our endeavours.”
Despite downsides, for Shubhashish the promise lies in the possibility. “The best part is what we aim for. Maybe someday this platform will support entire families, struggling artists, students, etc. A house wife working from home can have a flourishing career.”
In the same vein he continues, “I believe in stats. Stats always give a positive vibe. There are others working online in the Indian art industry but when I compare it to my vision, I feel I am on my way to create something new, something bigger and better.”
“Start up. It is always a win-win situation. If you succeed you’ve won, obviously. If you lose, experienced gained.”