This woman entrepreneur started up with savings from internships at 18, hopes to clock revenue of Rs 8 Cr
This Potterhead is fulfilling her dreams of recreating the world of not just Harry Potter, but also DC comics, Friends, and more.
Tanisha Fagwani is the founder and CEO of efgstore.in that designs and manufactures pop-culture merchandise.
She started up at the age of 18, in 2016, with Rs 70,000 that she saved up from two internships while in college, and some help from her mother. Today, she has acquired licences from Warner Bros, Disney and Cartoon Network to sell licensed merchandise in India.
A reply from JK Rowling nudged her to start up
Tanisha grew up reading fiction indulging everything even remotely connected to Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings.
She reveals that a search for a Time Turner - Harry Potter merchandise gave her the impetus to start up. The merchandise was costing her $50 plus shipping. An expensive buy that stalled her from adding a little magic in her Potter world. However, at this point, she identified the gap that existed in the market - the lack of licensed merchandise manufacturing in the country, which would make such items affordable for fans.
Also, a chance reply from JK Rowling on Twitter cemented her decision further. On Twitter, Tanisha asked Rowling about Hagrid’s Patronus, to which the author replied, “Hagrid couldn't produce a Patronus. It's a very difficult spell.” The tweet was trending across India and many places across the world as the Potterheads felt sad for Hagrid.
The challenges of starting up
Tanish was studying Economics at Jai Hind College in Mumbai when she decided to begin work on efgstore.in. The name is also inspired from the fictional world of Harry Potter, as she derived the name from Every Flavour Beans. Tanisha’s EFG stands for Every Flavour Geeks.
“It means we have a flavour (product) for every geek. Whether you hail from Hogwarts or Asgard, we got you covered,” says the 23-year-old entrepreneur.
With her mother’s help, she had Rs 1.2 lakh in hand to start the company. Her mother is also a director and shareholder in the company today. She recalls how confidently her mother had told her, “you should try anyway or else you will have regrets.”
She was 18, managing pressures of starting and her final year of college. There were also naysayers who did not take her seriously and thought her struggle was just a temporary hustle.
“I remember once I went to the bank to make an RTGS and I was told only the director of the company can do this. I realised then itself that it was not going to be easy,” she says.
Sharing another instance, Tanish says, “When I had started hiring I was told ‘I don’t wish to take orders from a 20-year-old something, so it would be great if I can report to someone else’.”
Funding is the biggest challenge of them all. “There is still a glass ceiling when it comes to funding for female founders. I have been asked by VCs what will happen to the business if I get married tomorrow or have a baby. ”
Even a streak of bad luck and losses couldn’t stop her. Her basement office flooded for the third time, and with no one to help her, she began cleaning the mess and pumping out the water.
“I remember I wanted to just run away and give up. It was an extremely tough time mentally seeing my products and expensive machines in the water and the losses we had to bear post that,” she says narrating the incident.
Today, the bootstrapped company has licences to manufacture merchandise from Harry Potter, DC Comics, Friends, Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, Power Puff Girls, Dexter, Johnny Bravo and more.
The magic the future holds
Tanisha has an 18-member team running the operations of efgstore.in. The merchandise is available through its own website Efgstore.in, 100+ stores across India, ecommerce platforms like Amazon, Myntra, and Nykaa, and FirstCry and BabyChakra. Eventually, she plans to use only her own platform to sell online.
The company’s revenue is currently growing at a rate of 40 percent year-on-year, says Tanisha. It is projecting a revenue of Rs 8 crore in the next fiscal. It will soon begin to raise capital to work on product development and talent acquisition.
Tanisha has built a roadmap for scaling her business and plans to carve a niche across different platforms - accessories, curated stationery, and home décor. She plans to invest in licensing in order to help scale the business in India.
She is looking to expand the product range, get into the ‘back to school’ segment, and widen her area as a gifting solutions provider.
In the next financial year, she has three kiosks lined up to open across Hyper City Malls. By 2021, she hopes to launch their flagship store in Mumbai. By 2024, she hopes to establish efgstore’s presence across the country with stores in major cities through a franchising model.
(Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan)
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