Bootstrapped and quirking it, Mumbai’s Flintstop is setting itself apart in the funk spaceSindhu Kashyaap
From quirky headphones and vacuum cleaners to fun corporate gifts, Flintstop is an e-commerce platform that brings colour to an otherwise grey world.
Quirk is the new black. Whether it is the A to Z Punjabi Coasters by Happily Unmarried or the famous owl motif lanterns from Chumbak, there is a growing need for quirky and innovative products.
For 32-year-old software professional, Kishore S, the idea of getting a ‘Sadaas Ashtray’ or a Game of bobble head just makes a long regular work more fun. It was looking at this changing scenario that 24-year-old e-commerce lecturer at IIDE colleges, decided to start Flintstop in 2014. Mumbai-based Flintstop is an e-commerce venture that provides quirky, innovative, and unique products.
“I have always been fascinated with technology and toys. In my younger days, I would brainstorm on the functionality of television sets and radios by dismantling them. But I wanted to do something of my own.”
The quirk exhibition
When Tejas realised his love for technology, he resigned his first job and went to Hong Kong to attend an exhibition which was a complete eye opener. The products sold at the exhibition was different, quirky, and yet very useful. That’s when he began looking for different and quirky products.
However, unlike a FunkforHire, HappilyUnmarried, and Chumbak, Flintstop focuses on problem-solving products like – Robot Vacuum Cleaner, Running Alarm Clock and Zipper Earphone.
Starting off with 14 products, the team today claims to have over 280 products in multiple categories like home and kitchen, electronics, personal and healthcare, stationery, and others.
The zero to one phase
Working from a 150 sqft room of his house, Flintstop has now moved to a 1,000 sqft office at Lower Parel. For the first three months, it was Tejas and his father’s office peon who would help with the packaging and deliveries. When the number of orders began to increase, Flintstop got its first intern.
The team now comprises 11 full-time employees and two freelancers. Currently, the team claims to get over 200 orders per day. And during the Big Billion Days Sale, they receive about 800 orders per day.
Taking the exhibition as the starting point, Tejas did his research and got in manufacturers from Taiwan, Japan, and China. “We had to make sure we had something for everyone on our platform and which was not easily available in India,” says Tejas.
Working across borders
Initially, one of their biggest problems was quality control as Tejas couldn’t go and ensure the right price and the quality of every piece. After burning his fingers a few times, the team decided to have agents across China who could consolidate the products from different manufacturers in places like Yiwu, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong. They were the ones who did the quality check and control for Flintstop.
Also, warranty and replacement is an issue when your manufacturer is in another country. Every product damaged or defected had to be sent back to China. The cost of sending it back to China equals the product cost.
Shipment was the next big concern. From dealing with Indian customs and paying extra taxes to shipment in few states like UP, Flintstop had to work around the logistics from scratch.
When the team began to add more products, across different colours and categories, it meant creating robust inventory management and packaging systems in place.
“We now have a four-foot drop test where every product is thrown down to see if any damages. The courier boys would often mishandle the shipments, throw them around, and even sit on them. We had a lot of damages and returns due to this,” says Tejas.
Numbers and market
Tejas adds that initially, they got one order in five days. However, after three months, they got up to 30 orders per day. In the first year, they had revenue of Rs 45 lakh and today they have crossed the Rs 1 crore benchmark.
Apart from their own website, the team sells in 36 different marketplaces like Flipkart, Amazon, eBay, Snapdeal, Shopclues, Rediff, and Paytm. The team adds their major business today is corporate gifting. They have companies like Group M, Godrej, Sun Pharma, Etihad Airways, Aditya Birla, and many others in their portfolio.
Today, the market for quirky products has increased. Apart from the Matrix-funded Chumbak, there are new players like IndiaCircus and many others cracking into this market.
As a future plan, Flintstop is now working on building an Innovation Centre for people who have the product ideas but lack the skills to build those products. Here, they can turn their dreams into reality. The team also aims to help them through mass manufacturing as well as crowdfunding.