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Nitin Purswani - E-Commerce made easy, the "Zepo" story.
Nowadays, the term shopping has been redefined. You don't have to be at a mall or a store to do shopping. If you have access to the internet, shopping can be finished in a matter of minutes. Thanks to e-commerce. Surely e-commerce is the next big thing. Everyone is aware of it and people are getting adapted to it. But some of store owners are reluctant to start an online store. There are many reasons for the same: complexity of setting up an online store, the cost involved, etc. Zepo helps them overcome these hurdles. Zepo is an e-commerce platform that can help store owners to open an online store in a matter of few minutes. We spoke to Nitin Purswani, the founder of Zepo and here are his answers for some of the questions we had.
CE: Hi, could you tell us a bit about yourself and how the idea of Zepo came up? How did you get started?
Nitin: Academically, I'm from a commerce background. I am neither a techy, nor a nerd but I love creating tech products. After graduating 2 years back, I started a t-shirt business where we used to manufacture Marathi slogan t-shirts and supply them to retailers & wholesalers in Pune, Nashik & Mumbai. This went well, but we couldn't take it to greater heights and it remained a small business. During the same time, I tried my hand at a web-startup called Bijness(dot)in, which unfortunately failed, but taught me a lot of things. Zepo is the third attempt at entrepreneurship.
CE: What was your motivation to take a plunge into entrepreneurship?
Nitin: In the final years of student life, we decide the path of the rest of our life. Just like everyone else of us, I too had the following options
(a) Do a boring job at a corporate, and be just another nut in a big machine - That was never something that excited me
(b) Study further - discarded - college became a comfort zone, where I didn't want to stay longer
(c) Ones inclined towards entrepreneurship & adventure decide to join a start-up & test themselves - unfortunately, I got rejected in the ones I would have liked to join
(d) Create something of your own
At the same time an awesome idea struck me and a college friend, in which we totally believed. It is not everyday that a good idea comes to your mind, and you are ready to give everything you have got for it. That was enough motivation for us to bet our money and future on and give it a shot.
CE: Could you brief us about your venture, Zepo's.
Nitin: In one simple line, Zepo is an e-commerce platform which helps small businesses and entrepreneurs open their online stores in 5 minutes and start selling online easily. Users can easily customize the design of your website to match your brand image
We give an Indian payment gateway for free, so that store owners can accept credit / debit card. We have partnered with Bluedart to help store owners in logistics. In a nutshell, Zepo is everything one would need to open & operate their online store.
CE: What kind of a marketing strategy are you adopting to get an edge over the other competitors?
Nitin: We don’t have a hard core marketing strategy, per se. As a small startup, we completely depend upon our users for helping us spread the word. We do not have loads of VC cash to burn on ads and customer acquisitions. Our strategy is simple – build something remarkable that’s worth being talked about. And yes, our success also depends upon you – the bloggers community. ?
We have gained this traction till date and got our early adopters of around 200 paid users & around 1600 trial sign-ups without any PR, any advertisement or any spending towards digital marketing. It has purely been via word-of-mouth – which testifies the beauty of product & reliability of service. With regards to beating the competition - we believe in beating them on the the 3 core factors - simplicity of platform, customer service and pricing.
CE: What, do you think, will be e-commerce’s role in the future? What do you think will be the demand and growth of the e-commerce industry in the years to come?
Nitin: No doubt, This decade is the decade of e-commerce in India. We have seen a decent start. Early entrants did spoil the show initially with low price and low quality product strategy with little focus on delivery.
You see, we have a different theory about e-commerce in India. You already have the poster boys of Indian ecommerce, Flipkart, Myntra and the likes. The Aggregators. Let’s call it 'e-commerce as a Business'. It’s the blood bath that you see on the top - the battle between the biggies, where the game is all about the last man standing. We believe in a more sustainable and sensible use of e-commerce - e-commerce as a Channel - where retailers, small manufacturers and brands use e-commerce to solve real problems in their business. They use it just like another medium of taking orders, like a telephone! With Zepo, our dream is to see every small business in India using this wonderful medium beneficially.
CE: Having an idea is easy but making the idea work is the most difficult part. How difficult was it for you to make Zepo work?
Nitin: When we started out, we had 3 big challenges to solve:
1. Simplicity of the interface
2. Building the entire eco-system
3. Keeping it cost efficient
Fortunately, we have been very lucky to have a great team on-board - wonderful people kept joining us on our Journey, and today, we have a kick-ass team of 12 rockstars, that drives the company everyday. The mentors and investors have been equally supportive. What else would anyone need to create a real startup! ?
CE: Customer is the most valuable asset for any start-up. How do you ensure 100% customer satisfaction?
Nitin: Totally agree. If you just have a glance at our testimonials, you would realize how obsessed we are about giving the best service. The chat support is on 24x7. So even the customer has any doubt at 4 am in the night, he would get an answer right away
CE: Top three tips for any budding entrepreneur?
Nitin: I have nothing new to say, but the same old golden rules that have been reiterated thousands time, something that I follow
- Follow your passion - do it only if you are in love & totally obsessed with that problem. Rest every learning follows.
- Follow the dream you are so passionate about, that even if you went broke trying that, you would still end up being happy.
- Coz at the end of the day, its anyways never about the destination, but the journey that you enjoy & would remember.
CE: What plans do you have for Zepo in the future? Will you go on to make Zepo a more trusted brand or will you diversify and venture into different domains?
Nitin: All our plans - the short, the medium and the long term plans are towards solving one sole objective – simplify e-commerce for small businesses in India. And the real game will begin when we’ll have 10,000 small Indian enterprises carrying out their online businesses actively using Zepo. At that point, we’ll have an unmatched leverage over Indian e-commerce. And we can continue to tune it to benefit the small businesses, for every vertical related to e-commerce – payment gateways, logistics, marketing, etc.
To be more specific, the initiatives planned in coming 2-3 years are:
- Making the Zepo platform even better and more flexible
- Launch the app marketplace to allow app developers to offer their product to store owners
- Launch the Theme marketplace to allow the designer community to serve the store owners
- Solving the next big problem for store owners – helping them get business to their online stores
So yes, we're working towards making Zepo the back-end in the Indian e-commerce industry and not diversify from our long term goal by breaking into different ventures.
CE: Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions and do you have any message for the CrazyEngineers?
Nitin: If you are passionate about being an entrepreneur some day, take the plunge now, its never too early or never too late. Either join a start-up that is on a mission you believe in, or create your own mission. Good luck!