Why these women entrepreneurs launched a marketplace for preloved children’s products
A casual conversation on what to do with clothes, toys, and other products that children quickly outgrow led childhood friends Neha Goenka Shroff and Swarna Daga Mimani to start Yobler, a marketplace for preloved children’s products across different categories.
The founders say in the past joint families meant such items were handed down to younger cousins or siblings; in the time of nuclear families, most of them end up in the bin or are handed over to someone who may not really need them.
“The whole concept of reuse and recycle becoming a buzzword towards leading sustainable lives led us to think of an exclusive ecommerce marketplace. This led to the launch of Yobler four months ago,” Swarna tells HerStory.
Swarna and Neha are not new to entrepreneurship. With an electrical engineering degree from NIT Nagpur and an MBA from IIM-Bangalore, Swarna worked with private equity firms before starting ewards, a cloud-powered customer experience management system and Social Neeti a digital marketing agency, both based in Kolkata.
Neha is a chartered accountant who lived in London for eight years, working as an investment banker before moving back to Mumbai. In 2011, she and her husband began Momente Weddings, a wedding planning agency.
“When we started Yobler, we wanted it to be unconventional – something different and scalable. Living in London, the concept of thrift stores was not alien to me, but we wanted Yobler to be a full-fledged marketplace with buyers and sellers pan-India,” Neha says.
They admit that the concept of buying preloved products is just taking off in India, with Instagram and WhatsApp groups advertising becoming popular.
“When we went into lockdown during the pandemic, we had a lot of time on our hands. My son was five months old and Swarna’s was around six years old. We got talking about introducing sustainability in our lives. What better way than not to let so many products, especially expensive ones, go to waste,” Neha says.
Making the process seamless
On research, they found that while WhatsApp and Instagram groups were popular, they were not scalable.
“Sometimes, posted items remained unsold for months, and there was no way to search for a particular product. Keeping all this in mind, we decided to launch an ecommerce marketplace,” Swarna says.
Neha explains how the process works.
“We have kept it very simple as we know we are catering to mums who really don’t have all the time in the world. Basically, you log on to yobler.com, and create a separate account. We approve it from our end, go through all the details, and if there are gaps, the Yobler team connect with the seller to resolve them.”
A seller can upload images of the product from his/her account, and fill in details about the colour, age, and condition of the product, along with videos. The backend team at Yobler goes through these, cross-checks images with descriptions, and gets in touch with the seller if there are discrepancies. Once approved, the products are showcased on the website.
Yobler features products for children between 0 and 14 years, including toys, books, equipment, furniture etc. A pricing guideline is shared with sellers and connects the percentage discount to the condition/age of the product.
“Yobler is integrated with payment gateways like Razorpay and CC Avenue and Delhivery as a logistics partner. Once the buyer buys a product, she is directed to the payment gateway. The payment is held by us for a period of 15 days. Once the buyer receives the product, we give them 24-48 hours to check and get in touch with us if there are any issues. Approximately 15 days after the product is sold and the transaction is completed, we reimburse the seller. We take 15% of the sale price as a transaction fee,” Swarna says. The founders declined to share investment details.
Neha says Yobler has seen great traction over four months with 500 user registrations and over 300 products sold. Most traction has come from Tier II and Tier III cities in Telangana, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu for toys.
Yobler targets homemakers and working mothers via Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook through campaigns, paid promotions, influencer marketing, and Google Adwords.
As for competition, Uptot works in the same space of pre-loved children’s products, but Neha is quick to point out that Yobler’s automated system makes the process easier and the robust tech will also enable the entrepreneurs to raise funds in the future.
With Swarna in Kolkata and Neha in Mumbai, operations were challenging in the beginning. But now, with a 15-member team comprising IT developers, customer service executives and social media experts, the process is “seamless”.
Both founders are also busy with their other ventures and believe time management and structuring the day according to each venture’s needs helps them run multiple businesses simultaneously.
The duo is now looking at expanding Yobler to include physical marketing by taking part in exhibitions throughout India and connecting to different groups and communities.
(This story was updated to correct a typo.)
Edited by Teja Lele