How this entrepreneur bounced back from a Rs 1 cr loss and is now running a Rs 5 cr revenue car accessory business
Rahul Goel was still studying at Amity University, Noida when he was helping his father in his car accessories business located in Karol Bagh, New Delhi. The company was dealing in making car mats, speakers, and other accessories. One day, while working at their office, he found that his father has a registered trademark for a brand ‘Woodman’ but never used it.
“Living in times when internet penetration has gone so deep, I asked my father if he wants to make use of the brand trademark and if we shall sell our products online. My father was very supportive but he guided me towards starting up my one brand, a separate entity rather than scaling up the existing business,” Rahul tells SMBStory.
As Rahul already had a knack for entrepreneurship, initiating a new business wasn’t hard for him. In 2015, he approached ecommerce platforms likeand to list his android car stereo system on the marketplace.
“Flipkart had newly launched the car accessory category then in 2015,” Rahul says adding that just after he listed his products, the demand poured in and within seven months he had done the business of around Rs 60 lakh. He was even awarded as the ‘Best Entrepreneur’ from his university in 2016.
However, his venture saw several ups and downs. Rahul bore a huge loss of Rs 1cr and was in heavy debt in just two years of starting.
So, what helped Rahul recover losses and restart the business that holds such a good position today that he is aiming for ambitious expansion in 2022? Rahul says, “focus”.
Learning a major lesson
While Rahul was running Woodman on e-commerce platforms, he was making enough progress that made him think about starting another new business.
“I was making money and was profitable. I was inspired to start another business and I opened up a food truck business in Gurugram. But that was my biggest mistake. I had no idea of how to run that and I started suffering losses. The hard earned money that I was making in the car accessory business was all wasted here and I came in a debt of more than Rs 1 cr,” Rahul recalls.
Rahul again took a U-turn and started focussing on Woodman selling on marketplaces, however, by this time many other players had come in and competition started increasing.
“Selling on e-commerce gives tremendous opportunity, however, it also has its cons especially when a person is under debt. I didn’t have more money to invest in marketing budgets and so. Neither was I getting my supplies in debt. It turned out to be a vicious circle,” Rahul says.
In this period of gloom when Rahul felt that all the doors were closed for him, a ray of hope struck. He hired a freelancer to develop a website and started selling his products on his own portal in 2019.
“You see, our products were not very cheap. It starts from Rs 10,000 and goes up to Rs 60,000. So when a consumer buys any product of this range, they do their own research on the internet as well. When they saw that Woodman also has their own website they started ordering directly from us,” Rahul tells SMBStory.
Woodman car stereos
Taking a leap in business
Within a month after launching Woodman’s own website, Rahul made sales of Rs 1 lakh GMV (Gross Merchandise Value) per day. The website also attracted customers with exciting deals and offers that made customers order directly from the website and not from the marketplace, Rahul claims.
“I also thought of starting as a D2C because many players had entered the ecommerce platforms both organised and unorganised players. And I was short of money so anybody could have wiped us out,” Rahul explains.
Rahul also started taking video reviews from the customers and uploaded them on YouTube to reflect the brand’s authenticity, which he says, is also a reason behind the customer's increasing trust factor.
Today, Woodman makes a revenue of Rs 5 crore, and Rahul expects the company to close March FY 22 at Rs 7.5 crore. All the products sold at Woodman are prepaid orders or partial COD. The products are made locally where around 80 percent of the raw materials are imported.
Woodman deals in more than 150 car models with XUV cars leading the share now. It has in its offerings car stereo systems, car sensors, car lightings, car camera, and steering wheel controls.
The market scenario and way ahead
The car accessories market is highly fragmented. Rahul says that there are many unorganised players in the market who also happen to be in fraudulent activities or giving fake commitments to customers.
The market is also dominated by players like Sony, Pioneer, Blaupunkt, and more. But what differentiates Woodman from the giants is the customer support and not the dealer support it provides, Rahul claims.
In 2022, Rahul is aiming to increase its market presence by coming into the offline market through franchise and also create a marketplace for acer accessories.