WAC is an online, art and craft marketplace where consumers buy hand-made artistic products directly from their creators.
World Art Community is a forum where artists and designers showcase their work for direct purchase by clients who would otherwise never encounter their creations.
Shobhit Arora started World Art Community in Gurgaon in December 2014. WAC has raised $400,000 so far and is in the process of another raise currently. WAC aims to breakeven in the next six-eight months.
Shobhit answers a few questions on its growth so far.
YourStory: How have you grown since 2014?
Shobhit Arora: We've managed this business like a conventional one, pursuing steady profitable growth and keeping extremely tight cost controls. We experienced positive unit economics early last year and are now headed for a break even. We have over 7,000 registered artists/crafters and NGOs on board with a merchandise over 250,000.
YS: What have been your learnings since you started up?
SA: It didn't take too long for market acceptance, it was almost like clockwork. We've been able to create a community of loyal customers and partner artists leading to fairly high repeat buys. The KPIs are performing well.
YS: Have you raised any funding?
SA: We have raised $400,000 so far and are in the process of another raise through which we intend to promote growth. Our endeavour is to break even in the next six-eight months.
YS: What changes have you made to your operations over the years?
SA: The business model remains the same. Our learnings as we progressed, were deployed towards improving our existing processes and also hand holding our seller partners.
Operating with over 150 different types of art/craft forms there's bound to be a mixed take, especially as the market itself is evolving in the category. We've been at a discovery stage given that we've been focussed towards promoting ourselves in an extremely targeted manner (by keeping marketing costs low). We've seen a graduation of customers doing their first transaction with a low-value craft-based offering to repeat buys in art. It's a heady mix of craft-based lifestyle products and artworks at this point in time.
YS: How would you describe your customer base?
SA: In lifestyle businesses like ours, women are the key customers. Our customers are comfortable with online purchases and from a behavioural standpoint quite discerning about what they buy... There's a high preference for products that cater to their needs and tastes. This indeed calls for higher service quality and curation, something we're quite particular about.
YS: How do you promote WAC among artists especially in non-urban areas?
SA: There was a time when we had to reach out to artists. I remember doing that as we went live too. We've now reached a stage where we receive over 300 requests every month, and the sign up process is completely online. Artists and designers operate in close networks and success stories of fellow artists play a big role in a positive word of mouth. We do reach out directly to rural pockets where we work along with NGOs and similar entities to create the required impact with the artisan community as well.
YS: What are your future plans?
SA: Our trajectory has been good and so have been the building blocks. We will continue to build and grow on what we already have created. There are a few key priorities such as strengthening our presence in the artisanal space, a huge segment that we believe can be empowered by a platform like ours. We also plan to get into physical retail eventually.