We are publishing an interview of Mr. Vinamra Pandiya, founder, Qtrove.
What is the problem you are trying to solve?
We believe that today with so many marketplaces offering same brands, the only pull is discounts, cashbacks etc. Today shopping is reduced to a mere convenience. We want to bring fun back to shopping in leisure where products displayed are unique, personally curated and sustainable and where consumers buy them for that they are and not because we are offering some discounts. We also believe that customer is today stuck with ‘Tyranny of Choice’.
Please tell us about the founders:
We are 2 co-founders.
Vinamra Pandiya – Vinamra is a distinguished serial entrepreneur credited with starting and scaling two companies. Having graduated from IIT-BHU, he went on to work with Infosys as a software developer which he then quit and started Mom’s Kitchen along with his childhood friend at the age of 25 which was one of the country’s earliest Internet Kitchen. He then went on to scale TastyKhana (as its board member and COO) as nation’s leading online food ordering portal which eventually got acquired by FoodPanda in late 2014. He is also mentor and advisor to several early stage startups. Vinamra is currently spearheading (as Founder) Qtrove.com and wants to create a curated marketplace of unique products from handpicked vendors.
Prashanth Nagarajan – An Engineer by qualification, Prashanth joined his family run Printing business straight out of college and learned the ropes from the ground up. After spending a couple of years in the business, he headed to the prestigious Rochester Institute of Technology, New York to earn his Masters in Print Media. In 2009, he rejoined the Printing business and took charge of it from the previous generation of Management. After spending another six years in the business and wanting a new challenge, Prashanth accepted an offer to join one of India’s fastest growing startup companies – Grofers – as its AVP of Operations. In this position he was responsible for the sales and operation growth of Chennai, Coimbatore and Kochi. But the entrepreneur in him ached to get back to being at the helm of affairs. The opportunity to Co-found a business was too good to pass up on and he joined Vinamra in March of 2016 to head the Business side of Qtrove.com
We are incubated and promoted by Growthstory (Incubator promoted by K Ganesh and Meena Ganesh)
Tell us about the Product / Solution:
Qtrove is a curated marketplace that exhibits and sells non-mass produced items from small entrepreneurs across the country.
These products are sustainable, not easily available elsewhere, enhance the well-being and social currency of today’s discerning consumer. Qtrove achieves it through its stellar network of partner sellers.
Qtrove is a closed marketplace meaning it puts only those partner sellers onboard which have products that mirror its philosophy of being natural, sustainable and non-mass produced. Qtrove currently is in POC stage and trying to find the correct TG which would love these highly curated products.
What were your assumptions when you entered the market, learnings that you have?
Most businesses are started when founders feel the existing pain or gap in the market. We went by our past experience, gut feeling and speaking to our circle of friends and investors. We didn’t conduct any formal market research. Our target consumers are in the age bracket of 28-60 who are well travelled, well informed and want to lead a sustainable, healthy lifestyle and who don’t mind paying a bit extra. After all, they want to look and feel different, are socially conscious and are connoisseurs.
How are you pricing the Product?
Qtrove wants to build a seller-focussed, democratic and a self-sustainable marketplace where the sellers decide their prices. Qtrove is just an enabler between the buyer and seller with basic guidelines, technology layer, logistics and customer care.
We started Qtrove with a basic assumption that current marketplaces are selling mass produced items and with little differentiation, everyone is relying on unrealistic discounts, cashbacks and what not. We want to bring back the fun in online shopping where the customer gets lost in the beauty of exotic and curated products, where the pressure is not on quickly getting out but to sink in. We are focussing on the two C’s (Content and Community), the third C (Commerce) would follow. We are already unit level positive and our next target is to be gross level positive by the time we approach series A. We charge an average commission of 25-30% from our partners and shipping charges from our customers.
How did you get your first customer?
As always is the case, our local friends cheered us up by giving us our initial set of orders and also helped test our website and the entire fulfillment process.
What is the big picture of your startup? Is this Product leading to something bigger?
Qtrove wants to establish a content and community driven marketplace which is democratic and sustainable in nature – one where seller and buyer happily co-exist, one where products are celebrated and together it leads to a happy, natural and a sustainable planet for a better tomorrow.
What would be your goal to accomplish in the next six months?
Qtrove wants achieve the following in the next six months:
• We started operations from Bangalore, so we want to bring handpicked vendors from the top 10 cities
• For us, core focus is on the quality of products and hence we aren’t chasing GMV or Seller count. We are satisfied having 10k personally curated sellers on our platform by end of FY 2016.
What message do you want to convey to fellow entrepreneurs?
• Reduce your ego to zero
• Need to have love for money
• Stop reading books, start executing, learn as you go along
• Start only if you want to, not when you need to.
More details about Startup:
Name of Startup: Qtrove
Launched on: July, 2016.
Location: Bangalore, India
Founders: Vinamra Pandiya (Founder – Product, Marketing, Finance), Prashanth Nagarajan (Co-Founder – Sales, Ops, HR). Founders believe in a healthy mix of dedicated professionals and ex entrepreneurs which allows continuous innovation, new initiatives, and growth hacking while at the same time, focus remains on productivity, efficiency and time management.