This startup's B-plan and dream is to make yours come trueBinjal Shah
There will always be some things that money can't buy. But two Mumbai-based people are making sure they do everything in their power to shorten that list more and more. All you need is a stroke of good luck and some ace bidding skills–Uber Dreams has the wherewithal to piece things together and turn it into a stairway to one's dreams.
The dream team
Savan Daru, an expert team-building professional, owned a travel business which he sold off seven years ago to pursue his dreams. A sports fanatic, Savan also previously owned Pune Pistons, a badminton team in the Indian Badminton League.
Then came Uber Dreams, which was ideated, conceptualised and incubated at Antfarm Business Incubators in early 2016, while Savan was working there as Vice President, Business Development. He moved out with this idea. Once it got funded by Mascot Group for $500,000, the two launched in August 2016 under the company name, Dreamatic Innovations, and Mohit Lalvani, MD at Mascot Group of Companies, and the lead angel investor for this deal, also doubled up as the co-founder of Uber Dreams. Mohit, a business graduate from Mumbai's HR College, is also a serial entrepreneur, and has over 20 years of experience in the personal care industry and chemical distribution space, the latter having paved the way for a highly profitable exit by an American conglomerate within few years of setting up.
An idea that did change lives
“In the beginning, Uber Dreams was just an idea I came up with but today, we are a team of 14 working together to bring affordable and personalised experiences to the masses,” Savan explains.
Uber Dreams was built on one simple principle–to use tech to make little dreams come true. “Most startups fulfil needs, but Uber Dreams fulfils dreams. Given the innumerable startups and congested market, it was a challenge to make a place for ourselves. But with our unique payment options, we aim to pave the way for our customers to fulfil their dreams, which may not be achievable through their individual financial efforts,” he explains.
Uberdreams.com is an auction and e-commerce platform, where one can bid to win extraordinary 'experiences,' across categories such as fashion, celebrities, travel, sports, music—like meeting one's favourite celebrities, interning at top companies, playing cricket with international players, landing an airplane on water, mentoring sessions with business stalwarts, such as Anupam Mittal and Mohit Burman—while all the proceeds go to a charity of their choice.
Bidding at the auctions is a three-step simple process—after signing up and getting your email ID verified, one can select a campaign, and place one's bid. All auctions are time-bound, with a start-date and end-date, clearly specified on the listing. The highest bidder wins, albeit only after a thorough KYC and BGC is performed, for safety and security of their partners.
Their most common formats include three-minute roles in movies and TV series, net sessions with top cricketers, dinner dates with movie stars, etc.
They work on a revenue-share model with the celebrities, and charge a 'platform fee' for their fixed-priced curated experiences.
The dreams they have caught
Of the many things auctioned off so far by Uber Dreams some highlights include the fibre glass elephant sculptures by Bollywood superstars like Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan, among others, all the proceeds of which went to Wildlife SOS, where funds will be utilised for Elephant Rescue mission, a six-course romantic meal at one's home cooked by celebrity chef Vicky Ratnani, a two-day yoga session with Shilpa Shetty Kundra, including a photo session and interaction, and an all-expenses paid trip to watch auctions with IPL franchises.
Since they started earlier this year, their most successful campaign has been the 'Yoga & Wellness Weekend with Shilpa Shetty Kundra in Jaipur', which provided the winner, who bid Rs 1,40,000 for the experience, an all-expenses paid trip for two. The husband from the winning husband-wife duo of Saurabh and Menaka Kadam, said, “This was a first wedding anniversary gift for my wife and it was great–both the accommodation and the yoga sessions. We felt like celebrities!"
Currently, the website has some interesting experiences modelled around IPL on offer. They are also going to be auctioning internships at coveted organisations like Dabur, Aviva, Shaadi.com and some top fashion houses. For that, Uber Dreams has collaborated with some of the top companies in India that would donate all the funds collected for causes that they are associated with. “Traditionally, these top companies would only hire candidates from IIMs/IITs, but now eligible candidates have an option to intern at the best companies,” he says. This campaign is still under construction, as the audiences still need to be educated about its specifics.
They operate in Mumbai and Pune as of now, as most of their services are in and around these hubs. Their products, however, can be delivered all over India. At the same time, Uber Dreams is sensing the pulse of its potential customers through social media, to plot its next move.
In the month of March, it clocked over 27,000 unique visitors. “Approaching senior industrialists and celebrities and placing them on our auction block for a bid price seemed to have done the magic. This caught attention and interest,” reveals Savan.
Behind the scenes
Uber Dreams is also supported by various charitable organisations and NGOs, like People for Animals, CRY, Go Sports, Helpage India and others. Around 20-70 percent of the auction money that is generated for Uber Dreams goes to the charity selected by the customer. More than 50 A-list celebrities and business tycoons are associated with Uber Dreams.
Their counterpart abroad is biddingforgood.com, primarily an online auctions platform, while Uber Dreams also serves as a curated marketplace of experiences. “Auctions, of course, are an integral part of our business strategy, but it’s not our sole offering. Lately, we have observed a few other players that have emerged domestically in the experience space,” notes Savan.
With tie-ups with top banking institutions for their HNI & UHNI clients all over India, and a strategic partnership with a value-added digital payments platform that grants them access to a corporate employee base of four million pan-India, they are now on course to scale up to carry out 20 unique auctions a month.