[Startup Bharat] How Patna-based Pooja Sansar is cashing in on the festive season with curated ritual kits
India is a land of festivals. As we embrace the upcoming festive season amid the pandemic, people are celebrating festivals at home to stay safe.
This turned out to be a eureka moment for Sanchie Shroff and Aaditya Anand, as they turned the stay-at-home situation into an entrepreneurial opportunity. The brother sister duo, along with their father Anand Prakash, launchedin October this year. The Patna-based startup helps people get pooja, ceremony, and worship kits delivered at their doorstep.
Pooja Sansar is an online marketplace which offers curated ritual kits for festivals such as Navratri, Diwali, Karva Chauth, Chatt, Bhai Dooj, Bhoomi Poojan, and other Hindu festivals.
“Pooja Sansar is the first ever ecommerce portal in India that aims to bring auspiciousness to each house in the country by delivering the most authentic pooja items at your doorstep,” says Sanchie.
In less than a month, the startup claims to have clocked revenue to the tune of Rs 1.5 lakh and has done more than 100 orders in less than 30 days.
Sanchie Shroff, 24, moved back to her hometown Patna from Bengaluru after her employer, a private equity firm, decided to give employees the option of working remotely. Sanchie says this move helped her to finally start her entrepreneurial journey.
A BCom graduate from Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi University, Sanchie worked with McKinsey and Company for a few years, and is currently working at a private equity firm in Bengaluru. Anand Prakash is presently a manufacturer and distributor of homeopathy medicines.
Coming from a traditional family, Anand Prakash was finding it difficult to get authentic kits and items for religious ceremonies. This became more difficult during the pandemic when going to crowded markets is not advised.
After discussing this problem with his children, they all brainstormed, which eventually led to the birth of Pooja Sansar. The trio quickly registered the company, bought inventory worth Rs 4.5 lakh, and began its operations in the mid of October 2020.
To begin with, the startup offered special Navratri kits to customers and sold 60 kits in the first 30 hours of opening, says Aaditya. The kits consisted of all the necessary items required to conduct Navratri Pooja for nine days, including the Hawan Samagri Kit, Maa ka Shringar Kit, Vishesh Poojan Samagri Kit, etc., at prices starting from Rs 851.
Moreover, the portal also allows for custom orders where customers can pick and choose individual items they need or can WhatsApp the list of items.
Sanchie says, the customers do not even need to type the order, they can just write it on the paper and send them a photo. “We want to cater to all kinds of users, even if they are not tech savvy,” she adds.
“Our generation has very little idea about the authenticity and pricing of pooja items as the market is highly unorganised. We think Pooja Sansar will help people shop for authentic products at most reasonable prices from anywhere in India at the click of a button,” says Sanchie.
She says that using WhatsApp is a deliberate move, owing to the high penetration rate of the Facebook-owned instant messaging platform in Patna, and the fact that users are more friendly and familiar with using this platform.
The social story
According to the founding team, the idea of starting up was not just to earn good revenue, but the family also wanted to make donations. The family is presently contributing 50 percent of its profits to NGOs.
“Our parents always wanted to do good for the society. Taking inspiration from them, we have decided to donate 50 percent of our profit to various old-age homes, orphanages, and to other NGOs involved in feeding the hungry, planting trees, etc. We believe that serving the needy is an essential component of praying to god. When consumers buy from us, they are serving many lives indirectly,” says Aaditya. The startup has partnered with three NGOs so far and plans to continue to do the same.
As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the country, Pooja Sansar urges people to stay indoors and celebrate festivals safely with their family. “We take care of all the pooja needs. You can be assured that we are taking all preventive measures and ensuring a safe delivery, and we use mostly branded products,” says Sanchie. She says the startup has hired a delivery person, and her father, Anand, curates all the kits by himself and buys items from the wholesale market.
Various reports suggest that India’s spiritual and religious market is estimated to be more than $30 billion, and this Patna-based family is all set to capitalise on it.
As of now, Pooja Sansar is reinvesting its revenue into the startup as it plans to expand its footprint in offline retail and is also looking at pan-India delivery. The startup is already delivering kits outside of Patna such as Bengaluru and Delhi. Going ahead, it plans to organise this market and become the Flipkart of ‘pooja items’, says Sanchie.
She says, after the pandemic, the startup will continue to grow and Sanchie and Aaditya will handle operations remotely, and Anand will do the groundwork in Patna.
Edited by Megha Reddy