Read the interview with Shruti Dhanda, Shop To Surprise
Please explain your venture to us in brief.
We are primarily a gifting company . Today we have a fully functional website and 2 offline Stores . The Ultimate The Aim Is to Create a Gifting Platform which will enable us to become every individuals pocket gifting buddy using an online , offline and a social medium . “ – ”Redefining Surprises“
When did you join the business? What have you brought to the table?
I started the company in 2012 . After my being a “Phoowali” for 8 years & - Supplying and Selling flowers I understood, studied and realized the obvious gap in the gifting space and how fragmented the industry was & even after a gifting company being launched every second day there was still no Brand Association or Brand loyalty in the Industry . Which is when I sold the flower business and moved on to the Gifting Business
What makes this particular concept different? Are there competitors? If yes, how do you stand out?
So till last year there was a gifting site coming up every week . However a majority of them were shutting down after a couple of weeks even after raising angel funds. The reason for that primarily was not addressing the key issues in the industry . The Gifting Space is highly Fragmented and the two key problems , if addressed would determine the success of the business Ė So if you target the Lack of Brand Loyalty and Convenience you are good to go .
The Focus for our company since the beginning has been to address these two issues and this is the reason why maybe our growth has been a little slow but we are proud to say that today our backbone has become strong enough to make us survive for a long long time to come .
What is the revenue model?
Product and Service Sales relevant to the gifting space.
Who are the consumers that you are targeting with the innovation? How is this going to affect them?
Gifting has become Intrinsic to our culture . Today even when somebody goes to a simple dinner they donít want to go empty handed , so our target audience is very vast . The Customer easier to convert would be the one who is involved in the process of gifting - They plan!! . However , the not so easy to convert customer would be the one who is not involved in the process of gifting and mostly is a last minute buyer.
We are coming up with solutions to target both the customer types.
What is the potential of growth?
Since the business is a mix of an online and an offline medium it is highly scalable. The closer we get to the customer the more we sell. Once the brand becomes popular the growth will take on a multiplier effect.
What is the strength of the organization and the scale of operations?
We have a fully functional website and are delivering all over India , two fully functional offline stores . We are a team of 10 people.
Give us a brief background of what you were doing before starting the venture.
I started my First business in 2004 by the name of Shrubs . By 2012 we had four divisions, The first was supplying flowers to over 250 corporates and 20 five star hotels , the second was into wedding decoration , the third was into retail and the fourth was something called home Runs – where we used to supply flowers to household on a monthly billing . Then in 2012 I sold the company and started Shop To Surprise
To make shop to surprise the one and only Brand associated with gifting which becomes every individuals personal gifting secretary.
Have you received any funding so far? Are you looking for funds? If yes how do you look to allocate the funds?
Till very recently the business was completely self funded and then beginning September we got incubated with Step- The Incubation Center . And now we are looking to raise angel funds for the final push .
What challenges did you face when you were starting out?
I started the business alone so one of my biggest challenge was to get the right team together . A lot of people joined me with the expectation that they would become multi billionaires overnight and these ones left me even before their initial excitement subsided. So after a lot of hit and trial I finally found the two people who are equally responsible for getting S2S up on its feet and going- Rajnikant Sinha pretty much helps me with everything from Tech to Ops and as the work demands and Dhananjay Sharma helps me look into the Operational side of the Business .
Since there is a lot of stock involved there obvious cash flow issues all the time that exist. Like every other business the cost of experimentation was always high in the beginning and due to limited resources we had to always make a choice for what to focus on - ignoring some or the other aspect of the business unknowingly .