This D2C House Of Brands Is Adding Sparkle To Celebrations Join Ventures aspires to be the one-stop-shop for all gifting needs

By Soumya Duggal

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Are you tired of gifting the likes of handcrafted diaries, bespoke coffee mugs and artisan chocolates to your friends and family on special occasions such as birthdays and festivals? Need new ideas? Then look no further than Mumbai-based Join Ventures, a D2C house of brands for celebration, which collates unique products from IGP, Interflora, Masqa and other brands on a one-stop website.

Talking about the beginning of their journey in 2016, Tarun Joshi, founder and CEO, said, "We realized that consumers wanted better quality products and a much more controlled experience when it comes to celebrations. The problem statement was not just sending gifts alone but also how to celebrate an occasion at one's own house. If I just look at the top eight to ten key events—birthdays, anniversaries, housewarming, Holi, Diwali, Christmas, Bhaiduj, etc.,—there are close to 500 crore special events that are celebrated in India. And there is no single destination which actually allows you to solve this problem fully."

And what, pray, is the benefit in bringing these diverse celebratory offerings under one company? Joshi explained, "It's not something that we have innovated; rather it's quite popular already globally. Larger companies like British e-commerce retailer The Hut Group, a destination for beauty and personal care, and American company Red Ventures, which owns several digital-first brands, operate in different segments but utilise an ecosystem that is common to all of them. This ecosystem requires technology play, operations play and marketing, irrespective of the consumers' specific needs and tastes as per each segment."

Through building successful digital-first brands, Join Ventures aims to develop a direct-to-consumer ecosystem for businesses in the celebrations industry. "The D2C ecosystem requires four things to be right: the first, obviously, is a great product which meets the needs of the consumer and offers them a unique experience. The second is good strategies for both offline and online distribution. The latter can of course be secured across marketplaces such as Amazon and Flipkart, but at the same time, every D2C company needs to have its own website which exudes newness and resonates very well with the product. Third is actual distribution: how to ensure widest possible consumer access to speediest possible delivery. Now you can have your product couriered or hand-delivered if it's perishable. You need to set up your warehouses or rely on someone else's warehouses. And the fourth is creating awareness about your product, which today requires strong digital-first marketing or brand marketing," elaborated Joshi.

A fifth requirement for building a successful D2C business, or any business for that matter, would be raising adequate funds in a timely manner, often a challenge for young entrepreneurs. Sharing his own experience, Joshi said, "I was fortunate enough to come from a private equity background, having spent about 12 years in that space. But I think the key aspect is timing. When we were raising capital in 2016, one of the key challenges was that the online ecosystem was still being established, with very few buyers online. In general, companies, especially those in niche areas, cannot bring buyers online; they can only tap into the ones already there. So the biggest learning is that capital flows when, in addition to having a sound business model, you enter the market at the right time such that the target consumers have evolved enough to actually buy from the channel you're using."

Speaking of the timing being right, how does the market look for brands of celebration both nationally and internationally? Joshi explained, "This space has seen a huge interest in the past two years. We are probably the only country in the world that celebrates at least 14 large festivals. Roughly speaking, we are cutting almost 15 lakh cakes a day. More and more millennial and Gen Z consumers in India are coming online, so demand does not seem to be a problem any time in the near future. The challenge rather would be strengthening the supply chain: that is, empowering local manufacturing to reduce reliance on Chinese exports, maintaining consistency in the product's quality and ensuring speedy delivery."

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