Discovering the oeuvre of this uber luxe craftsman
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Delhi-based Jaypore found its niche in selling premium and luxury handcrafted products online four-year back. Today, it enjoys a near monopoly in the space unlike online marketplaces for handcrafted products that captures the masses.
Living in Mumbai alone for around six months, Puneet Chawla launched Jaypore from a small apartment with his day beginning at 7.30 am and ending at 1 am while surviving on vada pavs throughout the day. “I used to do laundry in the office itself and sleep on the sofa-cum-bed I had, working seven days of the week. There was nothing else I was focusing on except my start-up,” says Chawla, Cofounder and CEO, Jaypore.
Working at online luxury fashion store Exclusively. com till early 2012 (acquired by Snapdeal in February 2015) that used to sell Indian products abroad with great margins, Chawla realized of the market opportunity for premium Indian goods abroad.
But what could be sold didn’t really click Chawla until he met his partner Shilpa Sharma, a Former Product Development and Buying Head, Fabindia, a retail brand for handcrafted products.
The obvious synergies between Chawla, a great believer in the online medium, and Sharma with a deep knowledge of artisanal product landscape in India brought up Jaypore, a curated platform for premium handcrafted products in early 2012.
The duo began with selling to the US customers. “There were already companies in the US like Pottery Barn, Anthropologie, Pier 1 Imports and One Kings Lane, selling handcrafted luxury goods, around 60 percent of which used to come from India.
So we thought of selling these goods directly to the US customers at a better price,” says Chawla. However in 2013, the duo shifted focus to India when e-commerce was starting to look beyond deals and discounted goods. “When we started, Indian customers weren’t ready to buy luxury goods online like a shawl worth Rs 10,000.
That started changing in 2013, which is now growing tremendously,” says Chawla. The growth has been so steep that Jaypore gets 75-80 percent of its business from India. But how does Chawla managed to make Americans to buy from outside the US? Against the popular assumption of Americans comfortable buying products online from other countries, Chawla argues that it is actually the opposite.
“They are as apprehensive as Indians in terms of the website and its products’ genuineness, safety of their credit card details, etc. though they have been shopping online for a longer time than Indians. So it was quite tough to convince them though they loved our products,” says Chawla.
He personally assured customers on calls of right product delivery in time and secured details of their credit cards. Jaypore total losses so far has been worth Rs 2 crore. But Chawla is pretty fine with that given its 100 percent year-on-year growth without taking the discounting route.
“Ours is not a discount-led growth,” adds Chawla. Jaypore is currently not profitable or as Chawla claims, “We don’t want to be profitable.” The strategy is quite ubiquitous across e-commerce sector – to become market leader by acquiring maximum customers and then turn profitable by raising prices of goods or services.
Chawla remains bullish on Jaypore’s 100 percent growth and is aiming to close current fiscal year with Rs 30 crore or above and the next with Rs 100 crore.
(This article first appeared in the Indian edition of Entrepreneur magazine (January, 2016 Issue).