The D2C space in India is more exciting than ever – this is because the Indian population has warmed up to shopping online over the course of the pandemic. However, here’s an interesting fact – 60% of India’s 1.4 billion population is under the age of 40, which means half the individuals in the country are potentially internet savvy and D2C brands can target and tap catering to their needs, interests and wants.
Chapter 4 of the D2C unlocked took place in Mumbai after 3 successful events in the past where D2C founders got to network with peers and other founders while also getting to hear great insight from industry titans.
This time around, we had Ninad Karpe, Partner at 100x VC, Trisha Rajani Vaidya, Co-Founder of Dr. Vaidya’s and Sahil Gupta, Co-Founder of MyMuse alongside Simpl’s CEO, Nitya Sharma – who talked about their journey, some things that helped them along the way, other insights that helped them overcome their challenges among other things. Read on to learn more about their conversation.
The much debated “aha moments”
Sahil, the founder of MyMuse had a successful career in private equity in NYC before entering the D2C space in India. However, he felt a lack of passion or drive for what he was doing. That’s when it became clear that he wanted to move back to India to start something of his own. The idea of MyMuse came from how hard and embarrassing it can be to purchase sexual wellness in a store in India and there was nothing more than the regular over the counter products when it came to intimate wellness.
Trisha says that both she and her husband Arjun, who founded Dr. Vaidya’s together, had worked abroad for a long time and always wanted to take a plunge and never really got to it. They first started an offline store that did very well initially but couldn’t scale to the heights they wanted it to – which is how the idea of leveraging the internet for an online store came up. One must also remember that this was a time when online shopping was new and unheard of and D2C didn’t have a name yet.
Ninad Karpe spoke about what changed his mind with regards to out of the box ideas – an encounter with a 17 year old founder led to a change in the way Ninad now looks at pitches. He even listens to thrice as many pitches in a day than he used to previously because an amazing idea might come from anywhere one must listen to as many of them as possible to not miss out on any.
- The right research is key to starting a brand or creating a product.
- Find out if you’re solving a problem that people are facing.
- Don’t define yourself and your product, let the people around you do it – that’s when things start to unravel.
- Entrepreneurship has more lows than highs but that’s something no one really talks about.
- Whether it comes to packaging, pricing, branding, etc, always cater to what your target customers will like and relate with and not what you or the people around you like.
- Follow market opportunities – you might not always be right but it’s all an experience.
Taking market share from other players is regressive
When you think of building a brand, it’s always better to think of someone rather than trying to pitch your idea to everyone. Great brands don’t think of TAM initially – the way to go about it is to optimise for the first 100 customers and then the next 100 and so on.
“Great companies create their own new TAM”
Marketplace vs D2C
Both these channels have their pros and cons. For instance, marketplaces can help with discovery but when you’re starting out, it’s difficult to get your product up there in the search results. There’s no real answer to whether your brand should be marketplace first or D2C first. However, it is extremely easy to start online today with no code tech stacks readily available and enablers and tools offering trial periods for you to leverage.
On the other hand, when it comes to a marketplace, it is tough to build a brand but with D2C, you own your whole customer journey, making it easier to keep them happy.
Cutting down on RTOs
Building trust is key to reducing RTOs. Some brands experience a huge chunk of COD orders that are potential RTOs, however there are some ways to overcome this challenge such as tools that help you verify customers and give them a score. Additionally, calling customers 3-4 times in a span of 12 hours if they don’t respond can help you verify your order.
The delivery phase is extremely important as it can enhance or break a customer experience because customers don’t care about the delivery partner, they know the brand they purchased from and any discrepancy will be attributed to them. More importantly, being transparent with your customers is key to building that trust and reducing RTOs.
Reducing Cost of Acquisition (CAC)
The biggest question every entrepreneur faces is how to reduce the cost of acquisition. Ever since Google and Meta ads have grown in stature, people have abandoned many other low CAC methods of marketing, simply because of how easy Google and Meta are to use.
One cannot reduce CAC overnight, it’s a process that takes years of effort but bears a lot of fruit. Here are some ways for entrepreneurs to reduce the CAC of their business:
- Email marketing: Emails are essentially zero CAC. All you need to do is pay a monthly subscription to email an email software and have access to a relevant database and it’s practically free forever to send out emails to these customers.
- Word of mouth: If you delight your customers, they will spread the word about the great experience they had with your brand. If a customer tells his friend about your product and they go on to make a purchase, you’ve already reduced your CAC by half.
- Referral programs: Run referral programs to make your customers the advocates of your brand. This will help you reduce CAC in the long run.
3 pieces of advice from a seasoned investor
As a seasoned investor, Ninad Karpe has seen his fair share of businesses, ideas and success stories and he shares three key takeaways from his experience.
- Inch wide, mile deep: Don’t focus on creating too many different products, instead focus on perfecting the product you have and make it flawless first before expanding.
- Fall in love with a person, not a product: Entrepreneurs are often passionate about their products. However, as an entrepreneur, you must be falling in love with your customer and focus on solving their problems instead of just being passionate about your product.
- In Ninad’s words, “You don’t have to please your Chacha”: As an entrepreneur, you’re not in the business of pleasing everyone – be it stakeholders, investors, etc. You’re there to create something great and your customers are the only people you must please.
“D2C before the name was just convincing people to buy online” – Trisha Vaidya
Stay tuned for the next D2C Unlocked event coming to your city soon! For now, here’s a glimpse of the event.