This Jaipur-based startup wants you to Surprise Someone and spread smilesLibza Mannan
Started by Pinky Maheshwari and her mother, Surprise Someone offers gift items made of recycled handmade paper that is embedded with seeds. Clients get a surprise too – small gifts chosen after background checks!
At a glance
Startup: Surprise Someone
Founders: Pinky Maheshwari and Sharda Daga
Year it was founded: 2015
Where is it based: Jaipur
The problem it solves: Manufactures gifting products from recycled handmade and plantable seed paper
We all love to get and give surprises. A good surprise can instantly lift the mood, bringing a smile on the face and rejuvenating the mind. Pinky Maheshwari, 35, decided to make this a way of her life, with Surprise Someone.
But, there are numerous ventures in the gifting space, offering products made of recyclable material. So what is unique about Surprise Someone?
It is the surprise element.
Pinky believes that big things are big, but it’s the small things that really make big difference. Whenever a consumer orders a product from Surprise Someone, the platform does a background check/profiling of the client via social media and sends them small surprises to make them feel special.
“If the client is a corporate client, we send the surprise gift accordingly. If she is a female client, we try to understand her likes/dislikes via social media and the surprise is chosen accordingly,” says Pinky Maheshwari, Co-founder of Surprise Someone.
Helping the environment
The surprise doesn’t end there. Every Surprise Someone product that has lived its life can be grown into a plant. For, all Surprise Someone products are made with recycled paper that has seeds embedded in it.
The venture offers several gifting items made from recycled seeded paper, including photo frames, paper bags, customised favour boxes, trays, and much more. It also offers gift hampers for special occasions like baby showers, weddings, and Christmas among others.
To suit the pockets of consumers surprising their dear ones, the platform also offers a category “everything under 50” on its portal.
Pinky highlights that Surprise Someone also makes recycled paper made from cotton rags/waste cotton. Another interesting innovation are Seed Pencils, which are said to be 100 percent bio-degradable and are made from recycled paper and old newspapers. Instead of an eraser, each pencil has a seed capsule on one end. The capsule contains one of several varieties of plants — herbs like basil or rosemary, flowers like marigolds or roses, vegetables like green peppers, among others. Once the pencil finishes, users can put the capsule end in soil, and water regularly to let the seeds germinate in a couple of weeks.
Tracing Pinky’s journey
Pinky holds an MBA degree and before starting her own venture, worked for eight years in Ogilvy & Mather and two years with Vodafone Rajasthan.
After getting married and having a baby, she decided to turn mompreneur and fulfil her dream of launching a venture connected to something she was known for even in her corporate days – giving surprises.
“When I left my job, one of colleagues called that they wanted someone to do handmade and exclusive welcome cards for 150 guests, really high-profile guests. I said ok as I was anyway not at work and with baby. When I finished they asked me how much they needed to pay. I was surprised as I thought I was just doing a good gesture and who would pay me for this art and craft,” Pinky says.
She recalls that when she was asked to quote a price for her work, she quoted Rs 20 for each card as Rs 15 was her cost. To her surprise, the client paid her Rs 15,000 as they thought that her work deserved more. That was a turning point when she made money converting her passion into money. She highlights from that day till date, she is making money via pieces of paper.
Pinky started Surprise Someone with her mother, Sharda Daga (55) in 2015. She highlights that her mother is a muti-faceted woman who not only looks after Surprise Someone but also helps in her father’s business. Sharda is also a part of Global Mentor Forum. While Pinky takes care of the ideas, execution of plans, and catering to the market demands, Sharda looks out for artisans and the right talent for Surprise Someone.
Currently, the venture is backed by 39 artisans and 10 team members.
Surprise Someone claims to empower hundreds of women from rural areas by helping them make paper bags, boxes, and other products after the recycled paper is ready.
Plans for the future
The startup is self-funded and is not looking to raise funds. Whatever money the platform generates through sales is used in developing new products.
“Our strategy for product development is that we send our new products to people who are absolutely new to us and have no relation with our business and myself. We ask them if had a wow moments within 30 seconds of seeing out product. If they say yes, we launch else we dump it,” she says.
Pinky believes that if there is no surprise in a product then the venture is not doing justice to its name, adding that every Surprise Someone product surprises consumers either in terms of design or price.
The platform has also been selected in Start Up India and showcased in India International Trade fair 2017 in the Start Up India Pavilion.
Surprise Someone generated a revenue of Rs 22 lakh in financial year 2016-17 and is expecting to close the second financial year 2017-18 at Rs 25 lakh.
In terms of clientele, Surprise Someone is serving a client base of over 5,000 and claims to have zero spending on advertising. Currently, the venture is only online and is marketing extensively via social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google Plus, and LinkedIn.
"I bought my cake toppers from Surprise Someone. It was superb and they also send me a surprise gift. Of course they surprised me. Happy with the products," posted Esther Selvi Priyanga, a homemaker on Surprise Someone's FB page.
Going ahead, Pinky plans to take the products to the overseas market and is awaiting the right opportunity that will help the platform scale to international level. She also intends to plan surprises for guests in planes and is planning to tie up with airlines for this.