There has been a buzz around e-commerce, Hyper-local Commerce etc. More & more SME’s are joining the bandwagon & trying to take advantage of this Online Revolution by setting up their e-commerce stores [or becoming a seller on reputed online e-commerce sites]. “Setting up an e-commerce store” is a daunting task & this is where e-commerce enabler(s) pitch in and help you to scale your business.
Today, we have a chat with Namrata Soni, Founder & CEO of Twikster, a startup based in Bengaluru. In few words, Twikster is primarily into e-commerce enable-ment & want more SME’s to come online !!
Can you give a small background about you, your start-up and it’s founders ?
Co-founded by Priya & Namrata, two digital product managers, Twikster is an e-commerce enable-ment platform for SMB’s in India & appeared on the e-commerce scene in 2014. Facing boldly the challenges of setting up an e-commerce business in India, Namrata, after having lived in the US for nearly a decade, along with Priya [who continues to live in the US], jumped head-on into working on Twikster.
Creating Twikster wasn’t easy, but the vision was simple and sufficient – to make e-commerce accessible and affordable for SMB’s in India. What started off as a basic platform for small businesses to create their e-stores, has evolved into a sophisticated, solution-driven and user-friendly path to setting up, managing and growing an online business for anyone who is interested in doing so.
What was the trigger for starting Twikster ?
Some very simple questions – Why are such few retailers selling online? How do retailers expect to compete with the marketplaces ? Why is it so expensive to create an e-commerce store? Why are the existing pricing models making it hard for small and medium players to compete fairly?
How does Twikster stack up against the other competitor’s that are also in the e-commerce enabler space [e.g. Zepo, BuildABazaar] ?
Most popular e-commerce enable-ment solutions in India follow a pricing model that forces users to choose a plan & pay a monthly subscription fee for a set of pre-defined features. Often, users have to move to a higher, more expensive plan to get basic support or for just a few features that they may need on their store. And these plans don’t come cheap; some painfully costing as much as Rs.60,000/- to 84,000/- annually.
Consequently, this model results in alienating a large section of people and makes it harder for small and medium players to compete fairly. This is where Twikster’s new pricing model is set to give users an edge. Users are liberated from forced monthly subscription fees and bundled features. With ‘Twikster GO’ anyone can create a ‘Forever-Free’, feature-packed, mobile-friendly online store at ‘Zero’ monthly subscription fee. From there on, users may choose to pay for specific support, services and features when their business demands it or their pocket allows it. It provides a wholesome package in the absence of forced pricing plans and monthly subscription fees.
Should the user decide to upgrade to the Twikster ‘Preferred’ plan, a nominal one-time set up fee of Rs.6999/- and a small annual maintenance fee of Rs.2399/- kicks in. The Preferred user is empowered with end-to-end support to create an e-commerce store, set up on multiple marketplaces, tie up with logistic providers, open merchant accounts with payment gateways and access a host of add-ons that may be purchased as and when required.
What is the revenue model of Twikster ?
Our sources of revenue are set up fee, annual maintenance fee, transaction fee and commissions in certain cases, and annual fees for use of add-ons.
What are the other areas [e.g. Product Portfolio development etc.] that your startup plans to venture into in future ?
Plan to keep this question for future 🙂
Can you please explain about ‘Art Space’, the latest offering by Twikster? [you can also touch upon features as compared to Postergully etc.]
When we started out with Twikster, both Priya and I hoped that small, upcoming yet talented artists in India would take to selling online if we made the platform simple and affordable. We learnt quickly that their challenge lies in marketing the online stores – so we decided to create ArtSpace by Twikster, a marketplace on which we would showcase and market the artwork of these artists. Our goal with this marketplace is to make art accessible outside India [starting off with the US] by the end of this year.
What are the major changes that you experienced when you moved from an Employee to an Employer ?
Its a mindset change. For one, it meant putting in more hours of work than I had ever before. It meant having to make decisions for the business and everyone involved in it. It meant always always being willing to learn. Becoming an employer brings with it a lot of responsibility and at some level, even though I did not know what exactly it would entail, I was ready for it.
What are your key advice(s) to people who want to start-up ?
Get started. It is important to get started. Its ok to make mistakes, learn from them, and keep forging ahead. There will never be a time as good as now to pursue your dreams.
What are your views about the start-up landscape in India?
It has a very promising future. See the support structure that is slowly becoming available, start-up events that are helping address questions/ concerns of new and old entrepreneurs, the maturing trends in funding and investment. There really hasn’t been a better time for start-ups.
You have a decade long experience in US, what made you shift to India & why you chose Bangalore for your startup ?
I always knew that I would return to India someday. It did not matter how long I had stayed away – India was always “home” 🙂 I chose Bangalore, not for the obvious reason that it is the start up hub of the country, but because my family lives here and being close to them was just as important to me as starting up!
What are your thoughts on the “Digital” movement of the BJP Government & how much it would help SME’s in India ?
There is no denying that this government has taken to the internet/technology & understands its importance better than any govt has in the past. But I think will be a little more while before we can conclusively state whether the Digital movement started by this govt is actually helping start-ups and SME’s in India.
With this we conclude our Q&A with Namrata !! We hope that our reader’s would have got some useful tips on starting up.
If you have any questions for Namrata or are an SME planning to setup an e-commerce store, please leave a comment & we would get back to you on the same.
For more information, please visit Twikster