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An Aspirant’s Dilemma – MBA Marketing or MBA Finance

MBA in today’s date is an important means of accelerating a corporate career. Every student wants to make the most of this opportunity. This is when a common dilemma takes up a lot of focus. The thought which takes a MBA aspirant to a state of perplexity is- What should be my choice of specialization? Do I choose MBA in Finance or in Marketing? If this is your current state of mind and like many other aspirants if this thought is giving you a nightmare too, restricting you from taking an efficient decision regarding your career growth, then you have come to the right place. Let us try to detangle your web of thoughts and get some clarity on the matter at hand.

Step #1: Clarity begins at home, i.e., at your own end.

To make a decision, firstly you need to ask a few questions to yourself.

  • What is your key area of interest?
  • How can your educational background help you to make the most of a MBA?
  • Which area will benefit from your prior work experience, if you have any?
  • What is your return on Investment?

The more honest you are in this introspection the greater clarity will you derive. This is because all the answers will help you define your priorities out of pursuing MBA.

Step #2: Identifying your skill set.

It is essential if you are aware of what skills you are well versed in, since this will be your best bet in surviving the otherwise grueling schedule of the MBA program.

The technical skill set required for pursuing MBA in finance are:

  • sound commerce background,
  • knowledge of financial instruments,
  • stock market awareness,
  • in-depth knowledge about financial software like Ms-Excel, Tally etc.

To pursue MBA in marketing, it will be helpful if one has

  • basic knowledge of marketing,
  • a keen sense of observation,
  • an aggressive approach to persuasion, and
  • a love for interacting with people.

Step #3: Identify your state of mind.

If you have an analytical mindset, get a kick from problem-solving and are inquisitive about identifying new opportunities within the ever changing business landscape, then you are well cut out for pursuing MBA in finance.

On the other hand, if you are a people’s person, have excellent communication skills and love to express your out-of-the-box thoughts and strategies creatively, then you must definitely try for a Marketing specialization.

Step #4: Chalk out your career path

After doing a MBA in finance, the different career paths available for you will mainly cover jobs that are analytic in nature and are often linked to operations covered under consultant profiles. Apart from these the most sought after scope of work post course completion is: Investment banking, Merger and Acquisitions, International Taxation, Research Analyst etc. to name a few.

For MBA Marketing, the opportunities can be in the form of Media Planner, Brand Manager, Digital Marketing, Brand Research, Advertising, Sales and many more. Not to mention the top most posts of Chief Marketing Officer.

MBA in finance will land you in real life scenarios and problems that will require you to be risk oriented, analytical, profitability oriented, fact & reasoning based that will impact the organization as a whole. Similarly MBA in marketing will expose you to situations demanding creative thinking, innovative campaigns and appealing to the overall consumer markets.

Step #5: Target Your Sectors

The industry must appeal to you in order to find your true calling. MBA Finance candidates mainly focus on industry sectors like Banking, Stock market, Mutual Funds, Industry, Insurance Sector, Consultancy, Research and Academics. On the other hand, MBA Marketing graduates focus mainly on Retail, Research, Digital Marketing, Hospitality and Advertising.

We hope after going through this article, your task of choosing the right MBA for yourself will be easier. Word to the wise- follow your passion. If we set our goals and decide to achieve it, nothing can hold us back in MBA and beyond.

The Evolution of Louboutin

Not so long ago, shoes were just a necessary accessory to cover our feet and protect it. Comfort took priority over design. While that is still the heart of making any good shoe, fashion evolved over the years to make this accessory an icon of glamour as well. This shift in conventional approach to shoes found its biggest success in the iconic fashion brand Louboutin.

The Designer

This French luxury brand is named after the designer Christian Louboutin. But his beginnings are far from elite. Born in Paris in 1963, Christian stood out for his unconventional looks which made him look more Egyptian than Parisian. He was expelled from school thrice! Finally the twelve year old ran away from home and lived in Egypt and India for a year. But come what may, he never stopped himself from following his passion. He started his career as a freelancer from 1979-80. Initially he designed shoes for stage artist and soon he started designing shoes for eminent fashion houses like Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent and Diane von Furstenberg to name a few. This gave him the confidence to open his first store.

Christian Louboutin dared to dream something new and unconventional in shoes. But he ended up cracking the question that has befuddled people for generations- what do women want? Being an only brother to three sisters took him closer to decoding female fashion with the right blend of beauty and style. The fact that this brand is the most coveted one among ladies is the perfect validation to the success of his designs. But what makes these so popular? Let’s find out.

The Brand

Three time LBSI (Luxury Brand Status Index) winner is a big accolade associated with the brand. What makes the shoes stand out is the iconic ‘red sole stiletto’. The legend of the ‘red sole stiletto’ began with a sign barring women from wearing stilettos at a French Museum. Determined to prove this wrong, he decided to bring back stilettos into fashion. His tryst with Roger Viver, the main who claimed to invent stilettos, proved valuable. Red was a striking and passionate colour that added the final flirtatious touch to it making it stand out from other brands. A move which won their first customer – Princess Caroline of Monaco!

Their customized designing of shoes made it a major hit with the fashion brands and women alike. The rest as they say is history. The success of the shoes extended into men’s shoes, handbags and purses. This catapulted CL into becoming the most searched shoe brand online in 2011.

In 2012, the brand entered into the beauty market.  In 2015, a lipstick collection of 38 different tones was introduced. By 2016, they entered the fragrance category with the introduction of three brand new perfumes. The brand has since found presence in the world market with stores all over the globe.

Their latest collaboration was with high end Indian couture brand Sabyasachi, which brought them into the Indian luxury market.

What Louboutin Teaches Us

-          Follow your passion, but make sure you have the proper training to back it up to create better designs.

-          Dare to think in a different way in order to stand out. Don’t bother if it is not the usual conventional approach. If Christian would have thought like this, then brand Louboutin as we know it would never exist.

-          Finally, never stop dreaming- dream to dare and dare to dream.

The Inspiration of Luxury- Cocó Chanel

Humble Beginning

Fashion’s most iconic figure Cocó Chanel, was born as Gabrielle. She was raised in an orphanage after her mother passed away and her father failed to make ends meet. This is where young Gabrielle learnt to sow magic with her needles, a small skill that went on to liberate women from the confines of their restrictive corsets. But her first love was the stage and so she started off her career as a mediocre stage singer. Cocó was actually a stage name given by the soldiers in her audience. Many would call it an unlikely foundation from where she pioneered a massive revolution in the world of high fashion. The more we know her story the more inspired we are to pursue our dreams.

Fashion Career

Finally in 1910, she opened her first shop at Paris’s Rue Cambon to sell hats with the help of Arthur “Boy” Capel. Her comfortable yet classy dresses were liked by all. Soon her designs became the talk of the town. Over the decade her name became more and more popular. But her best was yet to come.

-          In 1920 she launched a perfume. A first of its kind named Chanel no. 5. To her a perfume “is the unseen, unforgettable, ultimate accessory of fashion. . . . That heralds your arrival and prolongs your departure”.

-          In the same year she stormed the morbid mourning colour black into the most preferred colour of fashionistas by introducing the now iconic, little black dress.

-          In 1925, she introduced the now legendary Chanel suit- a collarless jacket and well-fitted skirt. She borrowed elements from men’s wear and added a tint of luxury into it. A welcome change loved by celebrities and the general public too.

-          The flapper fashion style of the 20’s was a projection of Coco’s own style. The Chanel logo was designed in 1925 by Coco Chanel herself. Though unchanged, it remained synonymous with elegance, wealth and elitism, setting standards in international fashion.

Despite all her achievements, she was a lone woman in the man’s world of business and profit margins. Her business partners eluded her from her rightful profits. It is said that she herself got only 10% of the profit. She sued the agreement several times but that didn’t help her much. But this did not deter her confidence.

Inspiring Generations

Her different take on the fashion game made her an iconic figure in Parisian literary and artistic world. She was an inspiration to generations to come, not just in her legendary designs but also in her self-motivating and empowering quotes. Some are still relevant today.

1. “The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud” – for every time you feel left out while trying to fulfil others needs.

2. “In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.” – for every time you need an inspiration to think out of the box.

3. “Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.” – for every time someone tells you that you need to look over the top to stay fashionable.

4. “Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.” – for every time someone makes a mistake to judge a book by its cover.

5. “Fashion changes, but style endures.” – for that time when you feel down and out and need to stay motivated.

She can easily be called one of the first women entrepreneurs of the world. But amidst all her achievements she went on to become legendary.

WHICH ARE THE BEST COURSES IN SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT?

Supply chain management is the active management of supply chain activities with two objectives:

  • to maximize customer value and
  • achieve a sustainable competitive advantage.

If this is what attracts you then a full time university degree course of 3 years under WBUT is something you should seek. If the course is integrated with a BBA (Hons.) curriculum then that would be the course to watch out for. NSHM is one of the front-runners in such an integrated course that focuses on Supply Chain and Logistics studies.

For the best integrated course in supply chain management.

How JustDial Made It Big Just In Time

Back in the old days there was one massive directory that had names and addresses of every vendor, business and other classified listings in one place. As the world progressed we outgrew these hefty books but ended up having some common names on our mobile phone books. But not everyone will have a handy man handy all the time.

What is JustDial?

JustDial came into the market to fill up this void left by the yellow pages and directories. A place where you can get answers to every need, all you need to do is “just dial”. The idea was to offer classifieds listings of small businesses for a yearly charge. People can search for businesses via call, SMS, website, or now through its mobile app. But it wasn’t this simple to begin with and it is a brand that evolved over time as did the thought and mindset of its founder.

The JustDial Timeline

  • Founded in 1996 by Mr. VSS Mani, Mumbai-based Just Dial is now a household name.  But the initial steps of Mr. Mani’s career weren’t nearly as smooth. He failed at his first business ‘AskMe’ in 1989 as money ran out due to huge overheads. JustDial started at this juncture, in a humble 300 sq.ft. garage with a few pieces of borrowed furniture, rented computers and a seed capital of just INR 50,000. The focus was to accumulate numerous small customers instead of a few big customers.
  • When the dotcom collapse of 2000 happened, most online companies collapsed, JustDial survived as they had small bets on the internet and focused more on voice enabled local search and marketing up till 2002.
  • They finally launched their web version in 2007 over several discussions about whether to go ahead and notable concerns of whether the internet business would eat up their voice based business. But all doubts were put to rest while they rode the telecom and internet surge to perfection.
  • With the big city market now mostly saturated, JustDial now aimed to grab the small city markets as well. Though the idea of a telecom based company entering into web based market was negated by many as they were not a tech based company, the same idea of human assisted search is finding quite a lot of takers in the US market (where talking to actual humans is rare.)

Today JustDial is one of the few such businesses in India to go for an IPO. They have funding over US$103.2 million, from key investors such as, SAIF Partners, Tiger Global, SAP Ventures, Public shareholders. The company is listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange with a valuation of just under US$1 billion. It now has over 15 million listings and employs about 9,000 people.

It has the largest number of reviews and ratings in the world, over 2.5 million. What’s their secret? The company takes real time feedback from customers for ratings/reviews and then uploads the results to their site.

Awards & Accolades

JustDial boasts of several awards and accolades, which they earned over the years. Some significant ones are:

  • Ernst & Young Awards – 2013: E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year (Services) Award
  • Young Turks Awards – 2012: Jury Special Commendation Award
  • VCCircle Annual Awards – 2012: Best VC-backed Media & Communication Company
  • Amity Global Business School – 2012: Amity Corporate Excellence Award for Customer Service
  • Citi Commercial Bank – Empowering growth of Emerging Enterprises 2012- Award For Innovation In Business Process
  • Red Hat and JBoss Innovation Awards – 2010- International Red Hat Innovation Award

Entrepreneurship is Key

The man behind this huge venture has some pearls of wisdom for the next gen business minds and startup geniuses. Mr. VSS Mani says, “Remember, entrepreneurship is different. It’s not like a regular job. It’s a calling. So don’t do it unless you have it in you. It has to come from inside. Not because someone told you, or copying someone else. And remember, there will be lots of failures. And learn from them. Don’t do minor, incremental things that copy someone else’s idea. Do something disruptive. Don’t do coupons.”

 

 

 

 

 

How Zivame Pushed The Right Buttons Towards Success

Generally people are quick to criticize taboos present in the society either out loud or in hushed tones. But there can be a good side to it which goes un-noticed. One such topic is lingerie. We need it, but choose not to talk about it. It was this mindset that a young Richa Kar successfully broke and liberated women across the country. Breaking the taboo fueled her e-commerce based lingerie brand’s marketing strategy and thus established Zivame, which offers over 5,000 styles, 50 brands and 100 sizes.

Identifying Need

While doing a study of the Indian lingerie industry, Richa Kar stumbled upon a massive gap between the demand and supply of lingerie, a category worth Rs 12,000 crores in India.  Soon she realized that the customer experience for lingerie is very poor in India. From unavailability of sizes to absence of any female sales executives, every single step of lingerie shopping posed a major bottleneck for the ultimate consumer – a woman. This compelled her to think about starting a business in this sector. Without wasting much time, Richa Kar created an online platform Zivame in 2011, with the vision of helping women to shop freely for intimate wear.

Finding & Implementing Solutions

The word “Zivame” means “Radiant me”. With that, Richa put in efforts to make the buying process smooth. The first step here was to focus on sizes beyond the popular ones. They introduced more cup sizes and styles which went on to create a comprehensive and varied range of lingerie therefore becoming a hit with women.

Initially, she started with her personal savings of 35 Lakhs. Eventually they raised around $48 million from marquee investors. The brand utilized all funds towards business expansion, development of new products, hiring talent, acquiring technology and marketing products.

Brand’s USP

Lot of factors jointly helped the brand to become India’s largest and most popular lingerie website.

  • The availability of comprehensive range of lingerie works very well for the success of the brand.
  • Proprietary blogs and articles in the brand’s website to help speak out about the problems women face in selecting lingerie.
  • Fitting salons in select locations where consultants guide women to find out their right size.
  • Discreet packaging so that no one except the recipient will be aware of the contents.
  • A ‘No questions asked, money back’ return policy and various customer friendly options.
  • A dedicated core team of executors and logistics resources backing up the brand website.

Challenges & Overcoming Them

Achieving this success was not a cakewalk for her. During an interview, she stated that getting support from her family was the biggest challenge for setting up Zivame. Her mother once famously told her what every middle class parent would- “sabko kya bolenge?” But soon her parents understood her perspective and supported her. A similar struggle occurred while finding a place for her startup. This she overcame by deciding to stay mum about the use of the place. All of her struggles were worth it when she was awarded and rewarded at various platforms for her idea and the successful execution of her business.

Richa owes her success to her B-school knowledge, which prepared her to manage time and resources under pressure. One of the important takeaways from this success story is finding hidden opportunities in the plight of common people and replacing them with realistic solutions. This attention to detail will take any business to its desired success.

How Paytm changed the way we pay

Inspiration for finding the next big thing comes from the most mundane aspects of life. Hailing from a small town of Aligarh, Vijay Shekhar Sharma founded one of the most successful payment and money transfer apps used in India – Paytm. In this freshly demonetised Indian economy, the app got a sudden gigantic push in terms of number of users. This helped Sharma bring in some key investors which brought in about US$700 million in capital from Ant Financial, the affiliate e-payments division of Chinese ecommerce powerhouse Alibaba.

The Quest for Opportunity

Despite his engineering background and no formal education in business management, Vijay Shekhar has the business acumen of a genius. This quest for more made him quit his first job at a reputed MNC in 6 months and build a company of his own with friends. But economy never works the same way as our plans. With the dot com burst and recession, his dream of conquering the Silicon Valley was shattered by bankruptcy. He again raised Rs 8 lakhs through his goodwill of which 40% was conned off. This left him devastated but not broken. He roughed it out living in a hostel in Delhi, skipping meals and walking to work or meetings. All this while, he never gave up on the quest for that one big opportunity.

Laying Foundations: How did it all start?

Things took to a good turn when he started One97, the parent company of Paytm. They began experimenting with the three fundamentals of internet- content, marketing and commerce. Their big eureka moment came in 2011 when he first pitched the idea of entering the online payment eco-system in front of the board.

The members were not convinced, as he was talking about betting the company’s money on an unknown market. To win their faith, he put 1% of his equity, about $2 million, on the table. He stood true to his belief, which brought out the first avatar of Paytm, ‘Pay Through Mobile’ was born, which went onto becoming the next big thing of the startup universe in India. And, since then there was never looking back.

The USP: Customer comes first!

The secret behind Paytm’s success is the trust he built with his customers, which none of his competitors gave as much value to before. Even before he began the internet wallet services, he first built a 24×7 customer care service to attend to the worries of customers, enabling them to trust the wallet enough to put their money into the hands of the unknown. In fact, 30% of the Paytm’s campaign budget is spent in building trust with the customer.

Backed by this customer trust, Paytm’s astonishing journey to the top of the online wallet market is now a part of startup folklore, but few people know that Paytm also became one of the few companies worldwide to acquire Series A funding that exceeds several $100 mn. That too they have only had a single round of funding till now with Alibaba, Alipay and SAIF.

Entrepreneurship is the key

His achievements speak volumes about the success of his managerial skills and judicial application of his sharp business acumen. It therefore comes as no surprise that,

  • Vijay Shekhar Sharma is the only Indian apart from Prime Minister Narendra Modi who made it to TIME’s 2017 list of ’100 most influential people in the world’.
  • With a net worth of 1.3 billion, he is now India’s youngest billionaire, as per the 2017 Forbes list.
  • Recognized among the 50 Most Influential Young Indians by GQ.
  • Winner of the Entrepreneur India Awards 2017.
  • Entrepreneur of the Year 2017 as per Moneytech Awards .

And these are just his personal achievements in addition to what his company Paytm has achieved since 2012. His unwavering grit can be summed up in his one quote: “To the winners, who won because they didn’t give up.”

How Pepperfry.com brought furniture online

The e-commerce industry in India is booming rapidly. The early movers in e-commerce are expanding their portfolio, as well as exploring new horizons, whereas innovative players are coming up with niche offerings.  Indian E-commerce is creating economic growth by generating fresh business segments, promoting competitiveness and ensuring the spread of best business practices. There are no entry restrictions in the virtual market place; therefore it acts as an open platform for craftsmen and manufacturers alike. This in turn comes with new employment opportunities, making the entrepreneurship ecosystem an important aspect of the overall economy.

Laying Foundations: How did it all begin?

Identifying the advantages of e-commerce and empowered by their stint in eBay, Ambareesh Murty and Ashish Shah started an e-commerce portal called Pepperfry.com in 2011. Their aim was to enter the $2 billion worth niche furniture and home decor market in India as part of its broader lifestyle e-com venture. By 2013, this Mumbai-based startup claimed to cross Rs 100 crores in gross merchandise value within a year of operations. It took in $8 million more from existing investor Norwest Venture Partners in April that year, taking the sum capital invested close to $13 million.

Mr. Murty already gathered a detailed knowhow of the online digital market from his stint as the country head of “eBay” India. It was here that he met Ashish Shah, former head of eBay Motors India and Philippines, and decided to start the venture.

Evolution of the Brand: Why Furniture?

In its initial days of launch, Pepperfry featured brands like Lotto, Peter England, Little India, Octave, Allen Solly, Beverly Hills Polo Club and L’Oreal etc. and allowed users to browse the various departments using filters for brands, product type, size, color, design and other variables. But over time, they saw more success in furniture & home décor category; so much so that it contributed to 80 per cent of their overall revenues. They deduced that their selection and variety offered were far superior to the quality of furniture that was offered in the online or offline furniture market.

In the startup phase they noticed that there were no really large online players in the furniture space. They saw it as a large market opportunity, amounting to nearly $7 billion in furniture and nearly $20 billion, adding up all the other components of home décor. They figured consumers’ wallet sizes will only increase every day and hence decided to focus on this niche space of Furniture, Home Decor, Kitchen & Dining, etc.

The Mumbai-based startup made news in 2015 for raising about US$100 million in a series D funding led by Goldman Sachs and Zodius Technology Fund. PepperFry today competes with young sites such as UrbanLadder and Fabfurnish – plus the online shopping titan Flipkart.

Awards & Accolades

  • Pepperfry got recognized in the “2012 Red Herring Asia Top 100” which honors the most promising private technology ventures from Asia.
  • It won the “Pure-Play e-Retailer of the Year” at the Indian e-Retail Congress 2014 that recognizes outstanding performance and innovation in retail.
  • Pepperfry won the Gold award at the Neons for Best Creative under the category of Retail Advertising for its Outdoor campaign – ‘Happy Furniture to You’.

“We are a great team and have good communication. We are direct people and won’t hesitate to say what we have to say to each other.” – Says CEO, Ambareesh Murty. Perhaps one of the most important things in a startup is good communication and Pepperfry.com has it nailed to perfection.

How Chumbak turned Un-conventional into Attractive

Like most start ups, every big idea starts from a small need. For Shubhra Chadda and Vivek Prabhakar this small need became a big opportunity, which they pursued proactively to create something they never dreamed of.

Birth of an Idea:

Subhra & Vivek, shared the same hobby – collecting souvenirs from countries worldwide. Suddenly they realized that India has very little to offer in this department. Compare the variety of fridge magnets and mugs from European countries with the usual Taj Mahal miniature, pashmina shawl, brass elephant, etc. and you’ll know for keepsakes they are delicate, high maintenance and fragile. Travelers would end up not taking any. This repetitive and boring pattern was the opportunity they needed to explore. Therefore, with a will to offer travelers something more creative, funny and colorful, Chumbak was born in 2010.

Evolution of a 360 degree lifestyle brand:

The founder of the brand, Shubhra and Vivek initially started this with a seed capital of Rs.45 Lakhs, which they raised by selling their house in 2010. In 2012, they got a boost by Seed funds. During introduction stage, they relied on flagship stores in few metro cities. Soon, they realized that their customers wanted to buy all their products from under one roof. As a wise marketer, to fulfill their consumer’s needs, they opted for one-stop pop-up kiosks around the nation. Alongside, they made a move into the promising e-commerce sector.

After the successful debut, their core team of 30 grew close to 150 and they started extending their product categories beyond souvenirs, into interior decorative items, clothing, etc. From an unconventional start up, they become a successful 360 degree lifestyle brand.

The Chumbak team understands the business mechanism very well. The credit for the success of the brand however largely relies upon the innovativeness of the products. They dare to execute an unconventional idea into something very relatable with a dash of humour. They bring all medium of marketing under their Big idea umbrella. They understood the needs and preferences of their consumer and react upon it wisely.  Their online and offline presence benefits them in different manner.

The social media impact:

According to them, one of their most successful medium is Instagram. The reason was simple. The consumer is now exposed to designs from across the globe. This has brought a refinement in their tastes and preferences. The social media buzz keeps telling the company what their target audience likes and wants more of. Keeping this in mind, they now try to bring core Indian themed designs for consumers with a dash of international touch. This approach and pocket friendly pricing has helped gain popularity and helped enlarge their consumer base.

Start –up Mantras

In their multiple interviews, the founder duo gives some important insights for all start up enthusiasts.  Some of these are:

  1. Consumer study is very important for a business to succeed. One needs to understand their consumer’s taste and preferences to become successful.
  2. Raising funds in a competitive field is difficult. But if you can establish your idea successfully, then investors are bound to take interest to invest in your business.
  3. The idea of the startup must be very broad. This will help develop the brand by extension of products and adapting innovative medium of marketing.
  4. Finally, if you have an idea in your mind and are confident about it, then don’t wait for any favorable conditions. Just follow your heart and success will follow you.

The Inspiring story behind the success of “Firstcry.com”

When we think about start ups we sometimes have some preconceived notions. There must be some brilliant guy who wanted pursued his vision after a successful corporate stint. Contrary to this is the story of Supam Maheshwari.

Lateral Thinking

This mechanical engineer and premiere B-school pass out chose a different path. Instead of bagging a coveted corporate placement, he directly jumped in the entrepreneurship wagon with his pilot project named Brainvisa Technologies, back in 2000. This venture was essentially a B2B model with core strengths in providing instructional design and end to end solution. By 2007, he successfully turned it into one of the largest e-learning solutions providers globally. Coinciding with the onset of modern recession, he eventually sold it off to a US-based group Indecomm Global for $16 million to make way for something bigger.

Identifying Opportunities

His work required him to globetrot frequently. And like other fathers, he also used to bring back toys from his travels for his daughter. Soon it dawned upon him that, despite having an approximate turnover of Rs.50,000 Crores, the Indian toy market still had a gaping divide between demand and supply of toys. Additionally, an unorganized market ensured that the customers didn’t get an easy access to foreign brands. This was his next big thing- an opportunity that was facing right at him.

The Big Picture

The picture was very clear to him. In order to bridge the gap, he needed a platform where parents will get access to a whole variety of Baby products and toys easily. This time he identified a bigger market for his customer base which was not possible in his earlier ventures. Hence in 2010, he and his friend Amitava Saha founded “Firstcry.com” with a seed funding of Rs.2.5 Cr, raised from personal resources.

The Brand USP

  •  Brand recall started because of its uniqueness, within a short span of time amongst the parents even though this start up was not based in Bangalore and had roots in Pune instead. This gave him the confidence to move with his new franchise model.
  • They were the first online retailers with offline stores in 2012, when omni-channel was not popular. Maheshwari figured out that potential customers in Tier 3 cities did not use internet to buy products for their children. And to capitalize on this section of market, firstcry.com expanded its physical base to cities like Bhilai, Dehradun, Haridwar, Kanpur, Bharuch etc. Every aspects of the store, right from its location, architecture, design, stock selection etc. was taken care by a core internal team only.
  • This even led Maheshwari to build his own logistics company XpressBees, which raised about INR 85 crores in funding and is now headed by Saha.
  • The stores took almost 2 years to reach a break even, but with its USPs, within 3 months it started adding value to the business. Now the brand is following an inventory-based model and having warehouses in cities like Pune, Delhi, Bangalore and Kolkata. The brand now earns revenue of a whopping INR 100 cr approximately.
  • This integrated click and brick approach ensures that even if something is not available at the offline store, it can be ordered online then and there.

Word of Mouth Marketing

The brand relies completely on word of mouth publicity. Expensive TV and print ads were a low return and high cost model. Instead they stuck to online ads and a path-breaking word of mouth campaign. The company gifts a ‘Firstcry Box’ to mothers, right before their departure from the nursing home post delivery. These boxes basically contain baby diaper, lotion, oil etc from leading brands. This brilliant thought made them reach out to over 70,000 parents each month. So far, they have distributed over 6 lakh gifts nationally.

Entrepreneurship is the key

Running one of the leading online portals of Asia comes with a lot of uneasy tasks and difficult decisions. While he had to close his lifestyle segment “Goodlife”, he also recently went on to acquire Mahindra’s “BabyOye”, firstcry’s biggest competition. This has now officially made him the CEO of possibly the largest baby & mother care retailer in India – online and offline.

An entrepreneur’s ability to think strategic and maintain a good balance of the micro and macro elements of a business is what makes him successful. And these are the same traits the 42 year old Maheshwari possess.