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Get your entrepreneurial dreams off the ground with crowdfunding

(L-R) Pratibha Nair, Yash Vardhan Kanoi and Apoorvaa Agarwal, Founders, JOAT

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Crowdfunding in today’s time is an innovative and emerging concept for raising funds. Entrepreneurs who are far from the reach of investor network can now raise initial fund to develop their product with the help of crowdfunding platforms. Many start-up players have adopted this trend in recent times. According to the World Bank report, the growth of crowdfunding in the coming years will be spearheaded from emerging markets like Brazil, China and India.

A Bengaluru-based start-up Jack of all Threads (JOAT) works on the concept of crowdfunding and social commerce. It combines old manufacturing process with technology to create an ecosystem that makes it easy for every single individual to become an entrepreneur.

JOAT was conceptualised by four college students – Yash Vardhan Kanoi, an Engineering student from National University of Singapore; Apoorva Agarwal, an Ex-engineering student from PESIT, Bangalore; Akash Datta N, an ex-animation student at NAFA, Singapore; and Pratibha Nair, an ex-biotech student from MVIT, Bangalore in the year 2012.

India’s first platform to crowdfund t-shirts, JOAT provides an opportunity to thousands of individuals, Raisers as they are called, across the country to experience entrepreneurship with absolutely no prior experience or resources and make thousands of rupees every month by designing and selling their own T-shirts online.

Having a strong team of more than 25 members, the start-up handles production, distribution, payment collection, customer support for raisers and finally, transfers the profits to the raisers’ individual accounts. The platform has over 500 new active raisers every month and has been successful in achieving over 10,000 buyers every month.

It is not only the students who use this platform to raise their t-shirt campaigns, but also NGOs like AkshayaPatra, CRY, Teach for India, Make a Difference, and Sifar also use this platform to create awareness and raise funds. With an aim to reach over 2,500 campaigns a month, JOAT plans to track 1 lakh buyers per month by the end of this fiscal.

Entrepreneur interacted with Yash Vardhan Kanoi, one of founders of JOAT, to get a better understanding to their business model and what makes them unique from others dealing in the same sector.

How the idea of Jack of all threads was conceptualized?

We started Jack of all Threads in college three years ago in 2012. We were engineering students extremely tired of having to follow a set path that made little sense to us. We believed in the multiplicity of our interests and believed that we were better off than becoming hardcore engineers. We valued the concept of Jack of all Trades, and felt that dogma had wrongfully criticised it. One could be great at many things, if he wanted it badly enough. The name Jack of all Threads was our private act of defiance. A way for us to say – Screw the norm, we’ll do things our way and we’ll make it work. We also couldn’t resist the play on words Jack of all Trades. We’ve valued being different. We felt this was sufficiently different.

What’s the revenue and business model? What percentage is shared between you and individual vendors?

JOAT allows anybody with internet access to create and sell amazing merchandise that people would love.

How it works is that a user (Raiser) logs on to jackofallthreads.co and designs a tee using the web design app. Based on his design and product type, he can immediately see the base cost for different tees sold. The base cost includes production, shipping and admin costs. He then sets his own selling price, and adds in his campaign details like title, description, link and end date. He launches the campaign and his tee goes live on his campaign link. This campaign page is like a product page of an e-commerce site.

He shares the campaign link via social media and interested buyers visit his campaign page. They purchase the tee like in any typical e-commerce site with online code options and free shipping. Buyers can keep buying until the campaign end date. Once the campaign ends, the orders are all processed and the tees are produced and shipped to every buyer. The profits from the tee (The Raiser’s selling price – his base cost) are transferred to the Raiser.

Our platform is free to use for all Raisers. We take a small admin fee on the sale of any product on our platform. Our fee isn’t based on percentage. Instead our fee is included in the base cost displayed to the Raiser during their campaign launch and all profits thereafter are entirely the Raiser’s.

How do you manage the production of your T-shirts?

We have sophisticated API to automate the production process across vendors in the production and printing industries. A large part of what makes JOAT exciting is reshaping a complex manufacturing process.

What challenges did you faced while taking your product to the market, convincing people etc?

The biggest challenge we faced was -- most people didn’t believe it was true. It seemed ‘too good to be true’, and people suspected that we were an internet scam. Needless to say, the same people are now super-passionate Raisers on our platform spending many hours a week.

What are the differentiating features or USP of Jack of all Threads?

There are significant differences between JOAT and traditional forms of commerce. Traditional e-commerce allows sellers with sophisticated production and inventory capabilities to harness the e-commerce platforms marketing. To be such a seller, you typically need to have a steady offline set up going. But what about the millions who want to be such sellers, but don’t have the means? JOAT makes it incredibly easy for such millions to realise their entrepreneurial dreams.

Furthermore, at JOAT, the Raisers don’t require any production set-up, capital outlay for inventory, team requirement, zero logistics hassle, no web development and data analytics skills, customer support centre, and no professional design skills are required. All that is required is creativity in your design ideas and the will power to promote them effectively via online channels. Absolutely every other hurdle is taken care of by Jack of all Threads.

Edition: December 2016

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