In a world where we see most people getting into conventional roles- going for CA, MBA and several such professional degrees, very few dare to venture out into the unconventional- take up unique challenges, and try to carve a niche for themselves. We, team CKK, bring to you such stories from around the college, of people who aspire to create something new and in the process, leave a legacy behind for others……
Our first interview is of two young and budding entrepreneurs: Nikita Gupta and Ravi Gupta, final year students of SRCC, who recently started their book-selling and renting platform- “YoyoBooks”…..
Q: What motivated you to start your venture?
Ravi: It all began after the elections in 2016. I was part of the opposition that lost the elections. It almost seemed, for a while that I had no agenda left to accomplish. However, a few days on, I realised that I wanted to do something different. Without a post in any society, with no responsibilities, I decided that I wanted to start afresh. I wanted to do something that was different. Our college is already endowed with plenty of societies, and thus I decided that I wanted to do something that would be unique and useful to people.
Nikita: We felt that a book-selling platform would be extremely useful to all students, so we decided to foray into the book industry.
Q: Could you tell us more about how your start up model works?
Nikita: Our venture is centred around 4 main activities:
- Buying : books from all genres at lowest of prices
- Customised Audio Books: in this segment we first plan to build a customer base, and then use customised software, tailor-made to suit the needs of different customer segments
- Renting books for specified durations
- Selling used books- Here we give general public to act as sellers of second-hand books, thereby creating a Customer-To-Customer network(C2C).
Q: Why did you choose the book industry? Any specific reason?
Nikita: As students our first motivation was to do something for the student community. One of the challenges that we have observed pertaining to the student community is absence of options to buy books at affordable rates. Hence we decided to venture into the book industry. Our startup doesn’t deal with books of any specific genre, we cater to all genres. Besides, the book industry is relatively free of hassles as regards initial investment and minimum people required to work. At present, our team consists of 3 members, our third team member is Rahul Kumar, a Commerce student, from Banaras Hindu University(BHU), who is assisting us with all our technical work.
At present, we are at a relatively nascent stage with our startup- but we need to develop it into a proper venture, like other bookselling portals (Amazon, Flipkart, etc.)
Q: What is your unique selling proposition that you have positioned your brand on?
Ravi: Our unique selling proposition is the creation of a “Rent & Selling” platform that allows us to give books on rent, alongside selling them. We are also making used books available for very low, discounted rates. Apart from these, we are also planning to venture into audio books(podcasts).
Q: What are the challenges that you faced in deciding to go ahead with this venture ?
Ravi: There were several challenges that we faced, and some of them still exists. To begin with, as students enrolled in an undergraduate course, we had limited experience, knowledge and understanding of working on a startup. We also did not have the technical expertise to develop a fully functioning website. We had limited resources to invest from our own pockets. We are planning to create a strong marketing pitch and present our idea at B-Plan competitions. We are also planning to raise funds from crowd funding platforms.
Nikita: The industry is driven by great competition, and there are several piracy and copyright issues, more so in case of audio books. There is scope for diversification, but that needs in depth market analysis, as people still have conventional needs as regards books.
Q: At present how many organisations do you have a tie up with?
Nikita: At present we have tie-ups with two major distributors: Prakash Books and IBP Co., which, in turn, have tie ups with multiple publications. We have multiple offerings in fiction, non- fiction, books for college students, school students, biographies, autobiographies, exams for competitive exams, etc. We essential aim to expand and create a marketplace where buyers and sellers can interact amongst themselves- a customer to customer(C2C) driven model.
Q: How is college supporting your initiative?
Ravi: We are not getting any monetary support from college as of now, however, our ever supporting faculty members are helping us out, and guiding us on preparing formal business plans and pitches. Prof. Vandana Jain ma’am, who is the faculty –in- charge for Centre For Incubation and Innovation, SRCC, has guided us on how to go about creating our business proposal to tap funds from sources. She has also given us various ideas on improving the quality of services that we are providing.
Harish Kumar sir has also immensely helped us with our endeavours and guided us in going ahead with the start up- apart from progress measurements at various steps.
Q: Where are you presently getting all your funding from?
Nikita:At present we are pooling in our own resources. Our funding requirements are quite limited at this point of time. As we are foraying towards expansion, we have planned to tap funds from angel investors and venture capitalists. We also seek to present at leading B-Plan competitions across the country. We have also applied to the College Incubation Centre for financial assistance. We still have a long way to go.
Q: What is your message to all students?
Ravi: I was never really fond of reading , and could never inculcate it as a hobby. This is also the case with a lot of my friends. Book reading is a good habit that some schools foster in their students. But their benefits stay limited to those few students only.. My suggestion to all my juniors is- read as many books as you can, on wide ranging topics. Books are a huge repository of knowledge, and expand your thinking capacity, analytical skills and change your behaviour in several ways.
Nikita: I would say, try to do something out of the box- don’t just follow the herd. It’s not about MBA, CA or any specific field. You don’t need to go for even a startup, if your only motivation behind that, is others doing the same. Do what you enjoy, what you love, what makes you happy and be confident!
Ravi & Nikita: “Suno Sabki, Karo Dil Ki !!!”