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Friday, 8 April 2016

How 22-year-old Saman Pahwa achieved Rs 34 lakh revenue with his one-year-old startup

Age has become just a number in the startup world. And it is quite evident in the Forbes’ List of Achievers that comprises 45 Indian entrepreneurs under the age of 30. This is a story of 22-year-old Delhi-based Saman Pahwa, who despite the disapproval of his parents, chose to be an entrepreneur.

While still a student at Delhi’s Sri Guru Gobind Singh College of Commerce, Saman realised that the gift market is limited to Hallmark, Archie’s, and small gift shops with boring gifts.

His startup, Handmade Junction, founded in April 2015, allows users to order personalised, handmade and custom gifts online and have it delivered to their doorsteps.

Handmade Junction initially sold their products online through their Facebook page. Moreover, putting up stalls at across Delhi University was another option to expand their customer base. The positive reviews and reactions towards the products strengthened Saman’s determination to take Handmade Junction to the next level.

Saman Pahwa and Simran Jeet Singh
Saman quit his MNC job in Gurgaon to follow his passion for Handmade Junction. Because of the dearth of technology expertise, Saman decided to run the Handmade Junction Website on e-commerce platform Zepo. Zepo allows businesses to setup stores online and offers everything from integrated payment gateways to marketing support. FedEx has tied up to offer logistic support to all the online stores.

Saman’s brother Simran Jeet Singh (28) joined the business in April 2015 and they have invested Rs 1 lakh as seed capital. Simran, who also works in a FMCG company in Gurgaon, looks after the Digital Marketing, SEO, and New Product Ideas at Handmade Junction.
A journey towards the junction

The product range of Handmade Junction includes photo lamps, unique LED Collage (which contains more than 200 pictures), customised inside cover of dairy milk silk, temptation box with vodka and unique scroll card. The products are priced between Rs 300 and 3,900, and Handmade Junction gains a margin of 35–40 per cent.

Customers are asked to email customised messages and images once they place an order on the website. Moreover, the team also interacts with the customers to understand their requirements and designs. Once the product is prepared, a draft is shared with the customer and the products are only delivered after they receive a confirmation from the customer.

We have in-house carpenter who make wooden base for our lamps. We also import acrylic pipes from China and we have tied-up with a Canon franchisee store for printing,” says Saman.

The startup has tied up with seven to eight vendors based out of Delhi-NCR to procure the materials. And for Digital Printing and Laser Engraving, they have two more vendors.

Handmade Junction has a team of five people, including the Saman and Simran. Kritika Arora looks after the designing of the products, Ram Chander is for packaging, and Sunil Kumar takes care of the local delivery of the products.

The products of Handmade Junction are also sold via Giveter, GiftingNation, Giftsvilla,Craftsvilla and Shoppo App, which generates 3.6 per cent of the total number of sales.

Number of deliveries

Handmade Junction has delivered more than 4,000 orders in the last one and half year. The website currently sees 8,000 to 9,000 unique visitors per month. Handmade Junction is growing at a rate of 10 per cent month-on-month in terms of revenue. This fiscal year, it has achieved a revenue of Rs 34 lakhs annually. Apart from Delhi, the platform also witness customers from Chennai, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad.

A glimpse of the market

According to a report by Technopak, the gifting market in India is estimated to be $40 to 42 billion with a handful of players (which comprises corporate gifting and personal gifting) witnessing the annual growth in the range of 20–40 per cent. Flaberry.com, RednBrown, BuddyGifting, PictureBite, Indibni are few of them who are in the tug of war to stay ahead of the competition in the personalised gifting space.

Handmade Junction aims to reach one lakh visitors per month and expand their product range with microcontroller-based personalised gifts, unique gifts for kids and parents in a couple of years. Being a new baby in the personalised gifting space, the startup managed to stay profitable in terms of unit economics. The startup is in talks with some of the investors and is likely to be part of an Incubator programme. Handmade Junction app, which will be launched soon, will add credibility to the growth trajectory, where users can send requests by sharing images via Pinterest, Instagram, Etsy, and more.

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