In Conversation with Puneet Chawla

CEO & Co-founder, Jaypore
Wednesday, 10 Jan 2018
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Puneet Chawla is the co-founder and CEO of Jaypore.com. He has worked in the Indian Internet industry for the last nine years in roles ranging from Software Developer to CEO. He started his career with Info Edge the brand behind naukri.com, jeevansathi.com and 99acres.com and went on to work with startups like redBus and Exclusively.in before founding Jaypore along with Shilpa Sharma and AartiJesrani in 2012. As CEO at Jaypore Puneet spearheads marketing, technology, customer relations, HR, finance and operations departments. An avid photographer and traveler, some of the high points of his life include surviving a massive hail storm in a flimsy tent in Uttarakhand, being chased by wild camels in the Nubra Valley and an unforgettable dinner of Spaghetti carbonara in a small Italian village 100kms North of Rome.
About
Puneet Chawla is the co-founder and CEO of Jaypore.com. He has worked in the Indian Internet industry for the last nine years in roles ranging from Software Developer to CEO. He started his career with Info Edge the brand behind naukri.com, jeevansathi.com and 99acres.com and went on to work with startups like redBus and Exclusively.in before founding Jaypore along with Shilpa Sharma and AartiJesrani in 2012. As CEO at Jaypore Puneet spearheads marketing, technology, customer relations, HR, finance and operations departments. An avid photographer and traveler, some of the high points of his life include surviving a massive hail storm in a flimsy tent in Uttarakhand, being chased by wild camels in the Nubra Valley and an unforgettable dinner of Spaghetti carbonara in a small Italian village 100kms North of Rome.

Jaypore, in a short span of time, has created a name for itself and emerged as one of the niche, successful players in the e-commerce category. What was the gap, opportunity, and challenge, that you faced when you began your journey?

In the case of Jaypore, I would say, the gap as well as the opportunity was the same. India’s heritage has been rich for centuries in terms of weaving, embroidery and various other forms of art. Whether we look at Lucknow’s chikankari, or zardosi or the embroidery from the north-east states of India, there is so much variety. There are, however, hardly any brands or companies that allow these works to reach out to a larger set of customers. We found that barring a few brands such as Fab India, Anokhi, and Good Earth, no other brand was offering our rich products for a global audience. Our endeavor was to create products for a global audience by contemporising their look.

On their own, artisans – while being talented in their respective craft – usually create, what we call, ‘level one craft’, which is identified with loud, old-fashioned designs. Customers have outgrown that sort of design. At Jaypore, we identified just that and worked closely with people to work on Indian techniques with Western silhouettes. As stated earlier, brands like Fab India, Anokhi and Good Earth have done that. Even some of the leading Indian designers in the fashion industry have achieved finesse and quality to cater to a more global audience. But many of these are premium or luxury brands. We at Jaypore wanted to bring products that were not prohibitive to buy and were rooted in Indian crafts. When we started our company, e-commerce in India was a platform that offered deep discounts. We didn’t want to be a company that did that. For the first three years of our operations, in fact, Jaypore wasn’t offering a single discount. Initially, our business was slow because of that decision but we were quite clear about our position, about our brand from the very beginning. I strongly feel that our brand has retained its position in the long run because we didn’t compromise on our core values or offerings. Though we had to be careful with our spends, we understood that being discount driven was not the way forward since our margins would have been very thin.

In fact, e-commerce category is not always profitable. Logistics, technology, infrastructure command spending and those are huge expenses to bear. In the e-commerce world, you have to remind customers of your brand all the time so there is a lot of effort and bandwidth and marketing in social media that is required. Being an e commerce brand means a shop that never stops. Being an e commerce player is like being on treadmill that continues going faster. You never stop to tell customers about your brand.

Jaypore successfully used digital media and created effective campaigns that reached out to the consumers. What has been the strategy to use digital effectively? How do you plan to continue using digital media in 2018?

When we got into the business, we realised that every penny we would spend had to target the right audience. Digital media allowed us to identify the right audience, the audience that we wanted to reach out to. We could, through social media platforms, filter, and narrow down to reach out niche target base. Digital, in fact, has been the mainstay for us to advertise our brand because we will not talk to just about everyone through our advertising.

What sort of research was done to identify the target customer of Jaypore? At any point, did you tweak your strategies?

Our research was not scientifically driven, we were trying to understand what was lacking in the market through our respective circles of families and friends. We were the consumers of the brand that we wanted to create. Because there wasn’t any blueprint for us; we were tweaking strategies all the time. To illustrate, when we started Jaypore, we were only a home décor and jewellery brand. Selling apparel happened accidentally – we started with sarees and on the first day, we sold thirty of them. Encouraged, we sold more and kept adding more products gradually. It was not part of our strategy but we gradually increased our products. Interestingly, today apparel constitutes 60 per cent of our sales. In the last six months, we started ‘open houses’ because our customers aspired to touch and feel the products. This was not our strategy or plan earlier but along the way we felt it was necessary to respond to what our customers desired. In fact, our ‘open house’ concept has been successful. Instead of a three-day open house, this time, to coincide with the Jaipur Literature Festival, we will be present for 15 days. At every step, our strategies are tweaked or finetuned.

What are your plans for 2018? Will we see Jaypore opening offline stores?

Yes, the jury is still out if we will have multiple offline stores. While there are a lot of advantages of having brick and mortar stores, Jaypore will always be an online store first. We are a dynamic brand that adds 300 products every day. Our concern is how to represent all these products offline. That said, we will grow our ‘open house’ concept to the top ten cities in 2018 and do the event twice a year. We also hope to raise funds in this calendar year.  

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