In an ecosystem where hyperbolic optimism is the norm, Pepperfry's Ambareesh Murthy has his expectations grounded in the startup reality. "It is not easy to dismiss the idea of work-life balance, at least in the initial years of starting up, but that is just one among the many occupational hazards that come with taking the entrepreneurial leap," he says in a conversation with UpGrad Talks.
Started five years ago, Pepperfry has carved a niche for itself in the online furniture space in India. And this victory has been the result of a concerted effort to provide customers a seamless service. "We ensure that our listings are absolutely standardised so that the customer gets what he sees on the website," says Murthy.
According to Murthy, special care is taken to ensure that all packaging is standardised. "In addition to this, strict quality checks are also done before items are shipped to consumers," he says. "We do this to provide a great user experience, and that is how we manage our marketplace," he adds.
Sellers and buyers are both treated as customers under Pepperfry. Consequently, buyers get customer support and sellers are provided merchant support at all points in the operation. "We manage the marketplace to ensure that we thrive in a highly fragmented and non-standardised category where the prevalence of brands are not too high," says Murthy.
He elaborates: "We are in an industry segment where the top five brands in the home and furniture space in India contribute less than 4% of the overall sale. This means that a large component of the market is fragmented and it has no established brands. Naturally in such a market, the onus of providing a quality and standardised experience falls on the marketplace," he says.
Murthy however, does not hold back when he cuts a realistic picture of the seemingly alluring journey of an entrepreneur. "If you are looking to be an entrepreneur, it is imperative that you cut down on overheads. So if you drive a large car or live in a big house, you have to be accommodative enough to switch to smaller ones. There is no other alternative," he says.
The second learning he has acquired in the last five years is the importance of working with a partner whom you can trust. "If you are going at it alone, get a person you are absolutely comfortable with and convince him or her to become your partner in the business. There is no substitute for having the right people working with you in a partnership and I have been really fortunate to have a co-founder like Ashish Shah.
Lastly, focus on building the business. It is a wrong approach to go after what seems hot at that point in time. Build the fundamentals of your business well and money will automatically come. However, always be prepared for an eventuality when things may not happen as planned," he cautions.
Image Source Indiatimes.com