Rahi Jain is the Co-founder of IndiaRush.com
In an email interview, He talks about his company’s growth and its various challenges.
“If you stick your ground and keep exploring options, things always work out”
- Describe your company, products, and customers
We are a fashion e-commerce IndiaRush.com since 2012. We endeavor to create trendiest fashion destination for our customers. We believe in idea to make fashion reachable to masses and benefiting from the online shopping experience. Online shopping is a rage now, and ever-expanding field with limitless possibilities in India. Also, we cater to audiences outside India, who need Indian ethnic wear.
We are now a team of 40+ strong and growing. We are still small in the big ocean considering our competition, but we are in for the long run and happy with our growth.
- What are some of the challenges you faced while growing your company?
I believe we are still in growing phase. As we see e-commerce, it’s a
middle layer between suppliers and end consumers. Currently, due to unorganized retail being a major chunk of Indian retail, backend needed a lot of work from our end to organize the retail sector. Backend supply of products in a seamless fashion in good quality at best price with reaching the customer on time is a major challenge for us, as with all marketplaces. We continue to evolve our processes to make it more seamless.
Secondly, being in online space reaching consumers was a big challenge (and still is) at least at starting phase of business. We needed to invest a lot of energy and time in learning best way to reach consumers keeping our marketing ROI (which is very important for startups like us) in check.
Plus, being not from management positions in our past job profiles, we are always exploring right company culture.
- How did you overcome those challenges?
As we two co-founders, we split the work between us to take care of each major challenges. Good backend takes a lot of processes and technology support to run smoothly. Sometimes, we fail to provide the best service to the customer, but then we look at the feedback and solve the root cause of issue either by technology or better communication between parties involved. It’s an iterative process, as you need to keep evolving your metrics.
As for marketing, we explored many options to reach our best audience which helps us to grow our business. To sustain for the long run, we always placed a high emphasis on ROI driven marketing. Everything in marketing was measured and changed if it’s not suiting our parameters of being a successful campaign. We stopped us from getting into the high-risk bleeding game of selling at loss and focused on right audiences. Even we stopped targeting on price-conscious customers, as price should not be only deciding factor for purchase. (Although it’s a major part, which we drive from our operations)
- How important technology plays a role in your growth?
Technology plays a big role in our industry. Everything which can be automated should be automated. Being a startup, we use technology to keep our costs down and provide better service to consumers. We don’t go overboard with technology usage, as human touch is very important (say like in customer care) but automation really helps. Being from IT background, we understand the role of technology and have to build it as a major pillar of our organization.
- How do you attract, hire and retain talent?
Teamwork is essential for any startup to grow. To keep learning phase short, we generally attract talent from our competitors. Referral is the best way to go about it. Earlier we used to hire only industry experienced people, but now we have started hiring fresh talent also, as they bring a new perspective to the table.
To build healthy culture we follow the open culture of sharing. We even share our most figures with everyone in the organization, not just with higher management. Also, we have open discussions about processes, so anyone can pitch in with suggestions. We try to bring everyone on the same page about future of the organization.
- What are your values?
We believe in fair values with all stakeholders involved. We are mainly here for our customers. We are here for the long run, so we avoid taking any shortcuts to success.
- What keeps you awake at night?
Many things actually. Currently at this stage, taking our organization to next level by establishing our brand in the market is a major concern. Building right work culture is also very important for us, as a right team can only take us to next level.
- What keeps you from growing further?
To be frank, we believe right customer recall is missing currently. We are getting mixed in a long list of e-commerce companies. We need to create our niche in the market with right mind space in the customer’s mind. We are working on it. Hopefully, you will see results in next six months.
- How do you see your competition? is it a threat?
We see competition as healthy currently. As online retail is a small part of the overall retail market in India, we need some big movers and shakers in the industry to disrupt the whole eco-system. Many big players like Flipkart, Snapdeal are making people shop online. Once we have more awareness about online shopping, it will indirectly benefit us in long run. Currently, we have a very small market for online shoppers, big players are helping to expand the pool.
- How do you make your people (employees, customers, stakeholders) happy?
The happiness of all stakeholders is necessary to build a healthy business and for survival. We cannot make someone happy at expense of others. We tend to give customers and employees preference over others in that order, but for sustaining you have to be fair to everyone involved.
- What do you do to reach your customers? How do you market your product?
For our business marketing plays a major role. We have learned the ropes of trade in marketing via hit and trial keeping focus on bottom line. For startups like us, exploring new platform to market is very important. As in start, many big players might not be using that platform aggressively for you to have a good run. We had that experience with Google product listing ads,
Facebook ads and now mobile ads. You need to reach a platform quicker than most big guys, and exploit them for the long run.
Also, every customer is not right. I mean right for your business. So in our case, we have stayed away from deal/coupon sites, as they might not be fit for our business currently.
- How would you define growth in your business context?
Earlier we were obsessed with headcount and the top line of our business. As we mature, we realize, creating a nimble team is more important than the big team. So currently we measure our growth with top line and profitability. (along with our traffic ranking 🙂 )
Also, you measure growth by processes you make, numbers you pull and building a robust team for future.
- What would you do first if you have infinite resources?
To build a cool company culture. As a startup, we cut few corners for perks given to our team. We will definitely try to make them more happy to work with us.
- How do you plan your growth?
As we see ourselves, we have decent experience in running e-commerce. We would like to scale our business model for taking on giants in our industry. We have to build our brand in the market to position ourselves different from them. As we see, there is still room for other players in the market and due to loss-making business practices of current market/players, we see the scope of things getting better in future. In even playing field (as its even a possibility) we definitely have an edge over other in a way we run our operations.
In meanwhile, we are looking to expand globally, venture into the western section, tapping tier 2-3 audiences and more.
- How do you make sure your team is productive?
Work is not always tangible :). For productivity, we use Dropbox, Evernote and google apps services like calendar a-lot. We have tried using some product management tool like Podio, asana in the past, but its best to keep things simple. Also, general tools like Dropbox / Evernote does not require a learning curve which is required by other project management tools.
- Any advice for business/startup owners?
We have limited experience to give advice. For us it’s mostly two things which got us through an initial phase – Courage and Ignorance. Or you can say courage of ignorance. But if you stick your ground and keep exploring options, things always work out. Also, we would advise not to make your plan around external factors like raising funding or over-reliance over single partner (client/account).