From midnight surprise parties to flash mobs, this bootstrapped company plans and executes surprises for its customers.
At a Glance
Founder: Sakthi and Radhakrishnan
Year it was founded: 2009
Where it is based: Chennai
Sector: "Surprise" services
The problem it solves: It plans and executes surprises
Funding raised: Bootstrapped
A couple walked into a shopping mall over the weekend. As they entered, the lady heard her favourite music. She was amused, was it a coincidence? Before she could speak to her husband about it, a group of people came forward and offered her a bouquet of roses, and a gift and broke into the Happy Birthday song. With shock and surprise, she looked at her husband. He was wearing a bemused smile - the one that said his plan had been executed successfully.
What's life without surprises? And what's a surprise without a proper plan? Thanks to a startup The6.in, such surprises can be planned easily now.
Started in 2009 by Sakthi and Radhakrishnan, this Chennai-based startup aims to surprise people in different ways, that are far from cliched.
These include totally out-of-the-box surprises like recreating a scene from your favourite movie, glitter showers, taking you high up in the air, or deep down underwater, expressing love with a thousand different posters and so much more, that one is really spoilt for choice. We do everything that helps us to express one’s love,” explains Sakthi.
The company’s motto is to create an experience that the customer can never forget, and also spread happiness.
It has Happiness Consultants who explain how they surprise their customers by understanding the receiver’s liking. We plan everything - right from their travel, to booking the table at a restaurant, getting approvals, executing the orders, recording the surprise moment, and editing and sharing the video.”
The idea of starting up came after Sakthi planned a friend’s wedding.
He says, “When we thought we wanted to start a business, we wrote to all the businesses we saw, right from tea shops to petrol pumps, from sexual wellness to laundries. But then we decided on surprises as there was no initial investment and we thought we were creative.”
After initially working with freelancers, it was only in 2014 when Sakthi quit his full-time job, and a team of five was built. Currently, the company has over 60 freelancers working with them.
Sakthi holds a Diploma in Mechanical Engineering and has worked as a cable TV operator before he landed with a job in a multi-national company.
So was the road to entrepreneurship all well and happy? Or did it encounter certain no-so-good surprises as well?
“The first challenge was the service we offered itself, as we were selling services which was well ahead of time. No one knew that we existed, no one wanted surprise planning. No one searched for surprise planners. We had to educate the market for them to avail our service,” says Sakthi.
Since then, it also entered into personalised and corporate gifting. But the journey of The6.in taught Sakthi about the product-market fit and being lean.
He continues, “We learnt from our mistakes. We stopped spending on marketing, and rather we spent on content creation. We educated the market with MEMES and we did guerrilla marketing. Few of our videos went viral and many Facebook pages shared our videos.”
After starting in Chennai, the company soon expanded to Coimbatore, Madurai, and Bengaluru, and is now conducting pivots across Tamil Nadu. It soon plans to expand across India.
The prices for the surprises start from a few hundred rupees to a few lakhs. Sakthi says, “We had once recreated an entire movie proposal scene, where the customer was particular about all the high-end customisation. It costed as much as a movie.”
“Personal touch. We believe customer delight is the way to get to the market! By planning surprises, what we really do is delight the receiver and the customer,” says Sakthi.
The gifting industry in India has registered a strong growth over the past decade, thanks to rising income levels and aspirations.
Also aiding this growth, on the demand side, is the widening of the customer base, and, on the supply side, the offering of innovative products at attractive prices. The Indian gifting market size is estimated at $40-42 billion, with many players reporting annual growth in the range of 20-40 percent. While there are many companies in the gifting and event management space, The6.in banks on the "surprise" factor.
For the future, The6.in plans to expand across cities in India.