[Startup Bharat] This startup provides an ecommerce platform for products from Darjeeling, Kalimpong
For Snjog Datta, founder of Kurseong-based ecommerce startup, a nearly five-year stint at the Department of Tribal Development under the Government of West Bengal, led to the beginning of his entrepreneurial journey.
Snjog had worked in the media industry for about three years and then was appointed as a consultant at the state government department.
Image Credit: Daammee
That experience, Snjog tells YourStory, inspired him to open an ecommerce store.
“During this time, I came across the stories of cottage industries who were producing a lot of things but their market was limited to just the hills. Then last year COVID-19 struck and everything was shut. There was no market at all for most of their products. That’s when I came up with a plan to give them a pan-India market and also to get their products moving to generate income for them,” he says.
To solve this problem, Snjog launched Daammee to bring products, ranging from food ingredients, crafts, home decor and accessories from the hills of Darjeeling and Kalimpong, onto the national platform.
Speaking about the entrepreneurial plunge, Snjog reveals that the idea for an online platform stemmed from a desire to help people working in the local cottage industry.
Daammee, a Nepali word, translates to awesome.
Products from the hills
Daammee has a vast variety of food products, however perishable products such as sausages and bacon are available only across Siliguri and Kolkata at the moment, the founder says.
Apart from food, users can also purchase home décor items, accessories among others.
However, starting up from Kurseong, a town in the district of Darjeeling, has presented its own challenges starting from logistics, funding activity to the startup policy in the region.
“While starting up, one of the challenges was packaging as the sellers produced a small number of goods to be sold immediately in the region so we had to figure out the packaging of the products,” he explains.
Logistics is one of the key hurdles for Daammee as the platform ships products across India. According to the founder, products can sometimes take up to seven days to reach cities even within West Bengal.
On startup policy, Snjog hopes that the local government provides more clarity. While the West Bengal government has its own startup policy, hill regions such as Darjeeling, Siliguri, Kalimpong may require a special framework to accommodate their needs.
“Our region is a special region in the state and everything that applies to the rest of the state might not necessarily apply to us. I have pitched Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) time and again for local startup policy because several startups are coming up in the region and they do need the support and handholding,” he adds.
Formed in the year 2012, GTA is an autonomous district council for the Darjeeling and Kalimpong regions of West Bengal.
Illustration: YS Design
Speaking about the business model, Snjog says that Daammee purchases the products from cottage industries, check them for quality, and lists them online for sale.
Currently, Daammee has about 15 members in its team.
“We clock sales of around Rs 2 to 2.5 lakh every month and more of the sales is from outside West Bengal than inside. The reason might be that people inside West Bengal can access this product easily as they might have relatives staying in the hills or they travel in these regions but for people from maybe Delhi or Mumbai, getting access to these products might be difficult,” Snjog reveals.
The bootstrapped startup is currently looking to raise funds to further scale up its business. Speaking about future plans, Snjog revealed that one of the immediate goals is to expand the sale of its frozen perishable products across other cities starting with Mumbai. It is currently also planning to open an offline store.
“In the long run, we want to have walk-in stores in Tier-I cities and have our own line of logistics as we want to deliver within 24 hours in all the major cities,” he says.
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