In our series to connect our readers with the achievers, we recently caught up with Vikram Chopra, CEO of FabFurnish. This 30 year old (young) dynamic alumnus of IIT and Wharton discussed about his journey, future of e-commerce in India and advice for our readers and more.
What was the idea behind FabFurnish? Why did you choose this name?
Shopping for home in local Indian markets, even in metros, is quite a painful process owing to its largely unorganized setup. Given that, we wanted to fashion a brand which enabled people to furnish and beautify their homes in a hassle free manner. Plus, we saw a huge potential to build a scale business in this untapped segment. The name FabFurnish clicked because it conveyed the brand’s ideology clearly.
Do you think “IIT and Wharton” tag really helped you in life?
They certainly do give credibility as it gets easier for others to take a leap of faith in you if you have a strong background. For instance, in our case, early joinees at FabFurnish showed more confidence in us, given our background. Having said that, such tags might definitely be influencers but they are not game changers. I would suggest that one should chase what they want rather than chasing these “tags”.
Where do you see your businesses 5 years down the line in Indian context and what is your take on the future of e-commerce businesses in India?
We plan to grow 4-5 times a year, looking at a five-fold growth. In next 2-3 years, we should become the biggest online player in the market. Our vision is to become an affordable brand yet aspirational. We are planning to grow 4-5 times a year, looking at a five-fold growth and then become a billion-dollar company.
The future is certainly bright for the e-commerce industry in India. As per the Internet & Mobile Association of India and KPMG, the e-retail market that stood at just $3.8 billion (Rs 19,249 crore) in 2009 should grow to $12.6 billion (Rs 62,967 crore) by the end of this year. This clearly shows the potential in this space. We are, indeed, a potent force that can take on physical retail head on.
What has been the most difficult and exciting phase of your journey?
The team building process in the last 12 months has been a challenging exercise as we have grown from a team of ‘tens’ to a team of ‘hundreds’. We all know how important it is to have an A- team in order to succeed but building one is not an easy job.
On an average, Mehul and I interview 4-5 people every day round the year. That’s a lot of people we screen in order to find the ones who are a correct fit. It is exciting to meet different people and hear their perspectives and experiences. At the same time, it is very difficult to assess the ones who are right match for the company. Starting from improving customer service and website experience to constantly expanding product range, a lot needs to be done and a lot of initiatives need to be taken, but ensuring that each job has been assigned to the right person is the most difficult task.
Creating and maintaining customer loyalty is not an easy task, how do you intend to achieve that for your business?
Customization and personalization are the keys to engagement. Apart from that, brilliant creative quality, user-friendly interface and quick website response time are equally important in order to make sure that users spend more time on website. It is important that an employee understands a customers’ needs and expectations in order to be able to satisfy them. Customer service training is provided to all our employees from time to time. Loyalty programs, offers, discounts, custom re-marketing, customer relationship management are the major drivers of repeat visits and repeat transactions.
On a personal count are you happy with the way business has turned out for you?
Am I happy? Yes. Am I satisfied? No. We have a long way to go and a lot to do.
Are you planning to go for brick and mortar model in coming months like few e-commerce players have already started?Creating physical stores was a part of our brand strategy from the start. Hence our first store was up and running within 6 months of launching our online business. Since we are expanding the scope of leveraging our brand, we think of offline as an experience and not as a sales point. As a brand, we want to provide a holistic experience to our consumers, and offline stores help us do that by giving customers a chance to experience the products before they buy. Thus, stores also help us build trust and credibility. We display a limited inventory at the store, but it is good enough to create confidence on the quality and brand value that we offer.
What would Vikram be if he was not an entrepreneur?
I would have been working for another entrepreneur.
Any plan for merger or acquisition? What is your target for year 2015?
Our business has been scaling by 3-4x annually since its inception. We are targeting an annual run rate of Rs. 600 Cr in the next 12 months.
Any tips suggestions for our readers?
Building an A+ team and retaining that talent is always the biggest trial when it comes to a start-up. No matter the business you are in, it’s the people who can make or break your business.
This article was written by Tarun for Fuchha.in.
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