This woman entrepreneur’s startup is shining the spotlight on rural artisans and is all set to clock a revenue of Rs 7 Cr
During her graduation ceremony at Coventry University in the UK, Kaveri Sachdev recalls a conversation with her brother about starting an ecommerce venture in India.
Kaveri who was just marking the end of her bachelor’s degree in Global Business was eyeing India’s internet economy that was worth $ 125 billion at the time in 2017. Driven primarily by ecommerce ventures, the market value is expected to double to $ 250 by 2020, according to IBEF.
For the past three years, the brother-sister duo has been part of the growth story of India’s internet economy with their Delhi-based startup My Pooja Box.
The making of My Pooja Box
After returning to India, the duo started operations from a 100 sq ft room. Noting that Raksha Bandhan was around the corner, they started sourcing rakhi products made by women in Rajasthan.
In a few months, they had launched the startup with 100 SKUs and says there has been no looking back since then.
Founded in 2017, elaborate festivals and traditions in Indian culture served as an impetus to start subscription-based platform for pooja and festive needs. As the founders tested the market, they saw that most people were buying products for gifting.
“The main idea was to provide curated pooja needs and we did really well on Karvachauth and Diwali. However, we have now started focussing more on home decor and gifting products,” she says.
Today, it features a wide range of products from healing crystals to eco-friendly idols of Ganesha, aroma diffuser, and idols and envelopes with gold foils.
The startup’s product portfolio has evolved over the years as Kaveri makes it a point to travel and explore rural craftsmanship and sample products for the website.
Having organically grown into a home décor and gifting brand, Kaveri says, “we are just celebrating India's culture and heritage by offering products that were crafted and made in India.”
At the same time, pooja samagri (pooja materials) continues to remain a popular collection. For example, Kaveri explains that a set for Diwali would include an idol, thali, and decor pieces with an instruction note stating the significance of each product and how they are to be used.
With products priced between Rs 50 and Rs 1 lakh, the startup has over 3500 SKUs – Kaveri claims the options are kept wide so that there is something for everyone on the platform. She also adds that it has achieved 100 percent growth in sales every year.
Despite catering to customers across Tier I, II, and III cities, it has a separate international website for customers outside India.
Bootstrapped so far, it has also grown from having nearly 4,000 daily visitors to nearly 15,000 daily visitors. My Pooja Box is on track to record Rs 6 to Rs 7 crore for the current financial year.
COVID-19 and other challenges
After a few months of market testing and tailoring the products to customer’s needs, entrepreneurs Kaveri and Prateek Sachdev zeroed in on women above the age of 30 as their target audience.
Hence, customer acquisition became the initial challenge as people in the age group were not as tech savvy to rely on ecommerce platforms for their prayer and ritual necessities.
“They are still transitioning to online shopping and are not very comfortable with using technology. We address this gap with a robust customer care service that is available via a WhatsApp account linked to the website so that they can reach us easily,” she shares.
In addition to social media marketing, the team harnesses the power of word-of-mouth and ensures quality service and products “because people will naturally share if they are happy with the experience.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic challenging Kaveri’s travel plans to source products, they have hired merchandisers across cities to find vendors and products and ship the products. Even before the pandemic, connecting with vendors in rural areas used to be difficult with no means of communication as most of them do not own a phone.
At the same time, she says that finding the right employees who understand the brand continues to be a challenge. As Kaveri takes on one challenge at a time, the startup hopes to enter the retail market with brick-and-mortar stores soon and eventually, become the go-to platform for gifting.
Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan