Make way for book trucks: this startup brings stationery to your doorstepसौरभ राय
Launched in 2017, Stationarray aims to revolutionise the stationery, books, and gifts space in India with trucks that allow promotion, display, and sale.
Humrahi Jain, 35, worked in the marketing and product divisions for several companies, including India Today Group, Radio Mirchi, and the Times Group. But in 2017, he decided to leave his well-paying corporate career to start up on his own with Stationarray.
With the simple idea of mobile trucks bringing books and stationaries at one’s doorstep, Humrahi’s social enterprise plans to revolutionise the stationery, books, and gifts space in India.
Learning in the corporate world
Growing up, Humrahi studied in many schools, given his father’s transferable job. However, a major part of his education was completed in Bengaluru, where he pursued business education. He completed his BBM and MBA from Bangalore University and Mahaveer Jain College respectively.
After finishing his MBA, Humrahi joined the Future Group in their pioneering retail chain project, Home Town. In his decade-long corporate career, he also worked in the media as a marketer.
“My first stint in the media was with India Today group, followed by Radio Mirchi, and a startup,” he says. He later joined the Times Group, where he learnt mobile marketing, product development, and growth hacks.
Hitting the wheels
Humrahi started researching India’s education sector, and eventually left his corporate career. He was able to identify a gap, which he felt could be filled with an innovative, unique product.
“I found that the stationery, books, and gifts sector is highly unorganised. Students and parents go through many hardships to find these basic items,” he says.
He launched their pilot project in Noida, a city bustling with the right mix of schools, colleges, housing societies, and corporate parks.
“We designed and fabricated a truck to specifically allow promotion, display, and sale of stationery. The fact that it is temporary ensures that our customers hurry up so as to not lose the opportunity of buying products,” Humrahi says.
Since books, notebooks, gifts and other products need not be bought on daily basis, the truck has a planned itinerary.
“We have created a route map based on which we park. We are available near schools once a week and in housing societies once every 10 to 15 days. This way, we are able to cater to a larger base of customers,” Humrahi says.
He is backed by his Co-founder, Dr Smita Singh, 41, who is a lawyer and a social worker. Their company is registered as Knowledge On Wheels Pvt. Ltd.
“As a team we have a combination of marketing and legal expertise. She has worked with ministries and government bodies and has more than 14 years of experience in the social sector, working on woman and child rights,” Humrahi says.
Having hit the streets in November 2017, the pilot truck has serviced 12 schools, eight societies and three corporate parks.
“Our business model is to create moving shops – reach the farthest points in cities, towns, and villages. We also plan to establish strategic alliances with government and corporate bodies, and earn through mutual activation spaces,” he says.
Customers visiting the trucks include children from the age of 5 years to their parents and other adults.
A customer shares his experience: “It was good to see children and adults crowding around a tiny van displaying books on one side and interesting stationery on the other. When the stationery shop comes home, there are so many things you remember to buy.”
In the first 45 days of operation, Stationarry’s pilot truck has serviced 1,500 customers, with an average sale of Rs 2,850 per day. The company has made total revenue of Rs 1.4 lakh.
“Currently we are bootstrapped and have invested Rs 18 lakh in the business. We are trying to raise seed funding of Rs 85 lakh to scale in Delhi-NCR, with 10 trucks.”
Plans for the future
“We plan to take the product into the heartland of India. To create visibility and brand recognition, we plan to scale in Delhi-NCR, Bengaluru, and Pune in the next 2 years.”
Humrahi also shares his plan of moving to Tier 2 and 3 cities and villages in the future.
“Our end goal is to provide aid to underprivileged students in remote parts of the country. The entire business model has been planned keeping this in mind. We'll also be contributing 10 percent of our profits to supply products at cost price or free of cost to underprivileged children, based on their economic status,” he ends.