The D2C Playbook | Avneet Mann @ The Wishing Chair [S02, #6]

Imagine stepping inside a store and instantly getting transported into the happy, magical world of fairytales- Avneet Mann and her friend pursued this idea and turned it into a successful brand that’s “The Wishing Chair” today. After acing a corporate career for 8 years, Avneet Mann started The Wishing Chair as a lifestyle retail brand. She shares with Vani some of the secrets that helped this D2C brand grow.

Know about:-

01:34 – Change in focus post covid: from online to offline

08:06 – Must-dos for building an e-commerce-enabled website

12:01 – Customer segmentation strategy

14:28 – E-mail marketing and managing the analytics

26:03 – Using performance marketing to drive traffic

Read the complete transcript below:-

Vani 01:27

Avneet, thank you so much for being on this show. It’s lovely to have you and thank you so much for coming home. 

Avneet Mann 01:33 

You are most welcome, I’m very excited. 

Vani 01:34 

Okay. So I want to tell you on Wishing Chair, after this I will show you each and everything that I have in the various corners of Wishing Chair. I absolutely love your store. Tell me, after so many years of being a physical outlet, you decided to go online and you created your own website. Was the website something new, was it created post COVID or has your website been around all along, has most of your focus been offline, online? What mixes it and how has it changed? Tell us about that. 

Avneet Mann 02:07 

We definitely started as an offline store. We started first in Shahpur Jat and then we built our store in Gurgaon and Bangalore, offline was the focus area. We did start dabbling a little bit with ecommerce in 2018-2019, but it wasn’t something that we were serious about or really focused on. But once COVID came along, we had no option. We had to move like everybody else. And now what I would say today, 55-60% of our business is online. And that’s the focus because we’ve understood the power of ecommerce and how quickly one can scale and how you can reach parts of the country, which are not possible with stores. Having said that, I feel like that both need to co-exist. I see our stores more as an experiential marketing, touch and feel, storytelling kind of a format, as long as they also support their cause. And ecommerce is a way of taking the brand forward and reaching the entire country. 

Vani 03:06 

That’s a very, very important point you make Avneet. So you are saying that, physical stores have their own purpose, which you just detailed out and online helps you increase reach. And when you say online, is it all your website or when you say online, is it primarily marketplaces like Amazon? 

Avneet Mann 03:23 

So we haven’t really been on marketplaces before last month. So when I say, 

Vani 03:28  

Before last month…! As recent as that? 

Avneet Mann 03:32 

Yeah. So when I say 55 to 60% of our business is on our own website. So we are truly D2C. 

Vani 03:36 

Fantastic. So that’s another thing, actually, most people say D2C even when bulk of their business is from marketplaces, that doesn’t qualify to be called D2C. And you talked about how your stores have a role to play, which is that’s where the consumer comes to experience the product, experience the brand, that’s the Wishing Chair. Because you walk into the store I remember, when I was at Pepsi and a lot of us used to always run to the Wishing Chair store every time we wanted to buy a farewell gift or a gift for a colleague, who’s just had a baby, for all kinds of gifts, we’d run to The Wishing Chair because The Wishing Chair is like an experience, you walk into this fairy tale, sort of an outlet and everything just seems so beautiful. Everything is perfect. Everything has a very, very strong design sensibility. You can see that the brand is so well put together and I must compliment you, what you’ve achieved offline is what you’ve achieved online as well. I love your website. When I scroll on your website, I feel you’ve been able to successfully recreate that experience. Tell me about that because that’s a very, very big challenge that founders face, how do you keep the brand experience consistent across, offline and online? It’s a big challenge. 

Avneet Mann 04:59 

So I feel like the brand ethos in my head and my co-founder’s head as well as our team is really clear. So when we’ve called The Wishing Chair were named after an Enid Blyton book. So it’s called the Adventures of the Wishing-Chair, which we both read as kids. And what we loved about it is this trans portative vibe that it has, that you sit on this chair and you go to these magical faraway places, which are really far from hot and dusty Delhi, that’s when we had kind of thought about what is it that we wanted to be. So given that ethos of what The Wishing Chair should mean and as well as also taking into consideration that we wanted creative expression for ourselves and for the customer. So every product has to have some kind of a twist of quirkiness to it, which makes it special for her. And that’s also what we wanted to bring on the website and hence the website, it is what it is. So in my head, when I think about the Wishing Chair customer that why does she come to us or what does she want from us? We think of her as an artist. We think of her as creating some kind of self-expression in her home, in her gifting, in her styling, in her Insta pictures, which express something about her. So hence every product, every interaction, website, stores, all lead to be an extension of this persona of an artist. And that’s how it kind of comes together. 

Vani 06:24 

And tell me something on your website. One is, of course, I see a very, very strong consistency of the visual grammar that you’ve achieved. What the stores look like the way you’ve done the stores, as well as what you’ve got on the website. But apart from that, I also see that there is a lot of content, stuff that you’ve written, that feels like you said, out of a fairy-tale book, it feels like it’s out of an Enid Blyton book. How do you do all that? Is that something that you guys, you and Vivita, your co-founder, is it something that you tightly control yourself? Is it a lot of what you yourself do or is it stuff that you outsource and if you are outsourcing it, then how do you keep that consistency? It really feels like everything has been done by someone who’s so deeply passionately involved in it.

Avneet Mann 07:12 

Well, we’re a very small team, so there’s not that much outsourcing that is possible or giving to other people to do. Also, as you know, retail margins are a challenge, we’re a bootstrapped company. We have to make money every month to ensure everybody in our team is paid, our vendors are paid on time. So yes, Vivita and I do end up taking a large part of the workload. But the thing is that what we try to templatize is this emotion, this feeling and our team has also been with us for a while, so they also get it. I don’t believe that you can outsource content and product and then still have a consistency. It needs to be done in-house in my belief. And hence, we try to keep as much of the creative part in-house but we do outsource things like the tech and the logistics and the financial accounting and those kind of things, things which are not core to the business and the storytelling. 

Vani 08:06 

Beautiful. Now tell me, you’ve got this new website. What should one keep in mind while building an ecommerce enabled website? How does one do it right? What was your learning journey like? What did you learn is the must dos? 

Avneet Mann 08:26 

So this is the fourth time round that we’ve done this website. So I wouldn’t say that, hey, we got it right the first time, we’ve also learned. The thing about websites as ecommerce that I’ve come to understand is that there’s never a perfect website. Every day you learn something new, that is not working and that needs to be fixed or something that needs to be changed or optimized. So how I see ecommerce is a continuous optimization game where you start from your customer journey. Why has a customer come to your website? Because there’s something that they’re looking for. You need to ensure that the customer finds that as soon as possible in the lowest amount of clicks and is able to ensure that she or he can order it without any hindrances or questions. So if you have to plan the customer’s journey from say, I want a mug, to be able to order a mug, how is that going to flow? And once you’re able to map that out in terms of wireframes and putting together where the journey will go category wise, then it’s easy to build out. So things like the website needs to be really super-fast and load quickly. It needs to be mobile optimized because everyone’s browsing on their phone. The navigation needs to be simple enough for a person to be able to find what they’re looking for. And lastly the product on the website should look like what they’re actually going to get so that there’s no hindrance. And if the customer has any questions, how easy it is for them to ask a question, get a solution and then move to check out. 

Vani 09:51 

Fantastic. Tell me something Avneet. You are essentially a beauty product, beauty in the sense it’s all about making things beautiful, making life beautiful. Now, this is not an essential product. I go to Amazon to buy a bath rug. I go to Amazon to buy, let’s say, a doormat or whatever. So I’m going to Amazon to buy something specific that I need and then I get out. So I need that interface to be really efficient. Look for what I want, find it at the lowest price, looks decent quality, buy and get out. Now in your case, among maybe, but isn’t yours actually just about coming and doing a little bit of Lari la and let me look around and isn’t it also pretty and let me see it. It’s not really stuff that I need. 

Avneet Mann 10:35 

Yes, there are some things you need, but a lot of things you don’t need. Our website also serves as a point of inspiration, if you see, like in the last two years, there’s been so much focus on making a house more beautiful, making hosting beautiful. You want the gifts you give to say something about you. So what we’re trying to do is to ensure that whatever we put out there is inspirational and aspirational for the customer to buy, that a little bit of this says something about me. It helps me identify with this creative person that I think I am.

Vani 11:07 

Yeah, no, but I’m saying in the website, what you spoke about was this really clean consumer journey. I come looking for a mug, I’ve been able to find what I came looking for. I’m assured that the mug that I’m seeing on the website will be exactly what I get. I am able to quickly proceed to check out, pay and get out, right? But, if I as a founder, it’s in your interest to make sure that she hangs around that she also buys a little of this and most of what we buy to make the house beautiful is all impulsive, right? So, how do you marry the two that in the sense that you don’t numb across as being, I mean, you don’t sort of not have a structure and at the same time you are able to tempt us. So what should the logical flow be like? Like where you put. Is there learning on where to put best sellers, is there learning on while you are looking for mats, should you also check out blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. 

Avneet Mann 12:01 

So what we do generally is we segment the customer into a first time, like a new visitor and a repeat customer. A repeat customer, we would focus more on things like what is new, available basis when she came last time, as well as cross selling that if you bought this category, then all these other things from this category are also now available to you, whereas for a new person coming in, the focus would be a lot more on here are our best sellers, here’s what we do best, this is our story. This is how we started out. This is how we produce our product. This is what we stand for. Whereas on the repeat customer, it’s all about what else you should have basis what you already have and, oh, here, what else is new? So that’s how we segment. 

Vani 12:42 

And what software, what platform do you need? Do you use to get all of these email and do you get these analytics?

Avneet Mann 12:48 

So we are hosted on Shopify. We are big fans of Shopify as a platform for e-commerce. There are various apps that are associated with it, which we use to help understand the data and also Google analytics is a great tool. 

Vani 13:03 

Okay. And all of that you’re able to manage in-house? 

Avneet Mann 13:06 

No. So the tech is managed, like we’ve outsourced the tech in terms of anything that needs to be developed and built. But the marketing and the data analytics, yes, is in house. 

Vani 13:16 

Okay. Wow. And what part of your team in-house is dedicated to the ecommerce business?

Avneet Mann 13:24 So there are two parts. One is the digital marketing part of it, then there’s the cataloguing people who are putting everything new things up every day and the third is a visual content because in the home space, contextualizing is very important. The customer has to be able to see how I can put this in my house. How can I use this? So there’s a two people contextualizing team which is constantly taking pictures, creating videos, creating cues on how the person can use it. So they’re three different segments

Vani 13:52 

Very nice. Actually come to think of it. You could even run a crowdsourcing program where you are able to crowdsource from consumers. How they have used something that they’ve bought from 

Avneet Mann 14:05 

We have an app, a UGC app, which they call User Generated Content in ecommerce, where it pulls the photographs from Instagram or how people are using it and uploads it on the product page. There are many such apps available in Shopify. 

Vani 14:18 

Okay. And when you’re saying on the product page, you’re saying on your own website? 

Avneet Mann 14:22 

Yeah. You take permission from them, can I use this content? It’ll help others. And if they agree, then we upload it. 

Vani 14:28

Very nice. Okay. Now I’m going to change track and I’m going to talk to you a little about email marketing. So now this is about email marketing. I love the emails you write, sometimes I find them very, very long but I love them. And I wonder how is it that you are able to see, I mean, I find that if I happen to even by mistake, take on a cushion cover, then you guys are chasing me. Oh, you like this cushion cover. Then you must like this, this, this also, and check out our embroidery and check out this. So that’s one aspect of it, but otherwise I also love the fact that a lot of your emails are just generally about life and they seem to be very, very open about what’s happening in yours and Viv’s life. And in a sense, I feel like even if I hadn’t known you personally, I would’ve gotten to know you as a person through your emails, which is also something that you wonderfully do between what your website captures, what your products look like and what your emails read like. So who does your emails and how do you manage that and how much time do you spend on it and how are you able to write as much? So first, tell me about the content and then tell me about how do you manage the email analytics? 

Avneet Mann 15:42 

The one good way to engage your customer, their repeat base is through emails, especially with CAx going up so much with Facebook and Apple and they’re fighting. So what we’ve done is that we’ve divided emails into two parts promotional as well a newsletter from the co-founders. The newsletter from the co-founders which generally goes out on the weekend, it’s called the delights of distraction. It’s something we started when in COVID it was mostly Vivita and me sharing stuff with each other to keep ourselves feel inspired and distracted with 

Vani 16:17 

When you were in your respective houses and you were literally writing letters to each other, to keep each other 

Avneet Mann 16:22 

Sharing links and things to inspire us and to keep us going so that the continuous doom scrolling that was happening with the news. And then this idea came about that, why don’t we share it out with other women? Because I’m sure everybody’s feeling the same way and that’s how it started and then the response to it was so overwhelming. We get so many emails every week. We try to respond to all of them, to every newsletter, but sometimes we are sorry. 

Vani 16:49 

So people write back? 

Avneet Mann 16:51 

Yeah, like hundreds of women write back. We have a list of about 25,000. 

Vani 16:56 

And what kind of stuff do they write back? What do they say? 

Avneet Mann 16:58 

There’s a lot of identification that they feel the same way or we share stuff that they’ve already feeling but we’re not able to articulate some people really appreciate the links and the recommendations we send out that they learn something new from it. Some people write in to say that it’s just amazing that how someone takes out the time to do all this without trying to sell me something because every other email is at a brand sense. And that’s something that really keeps us going because we’re like, okay, we’re doing something right. So that’s really helpful. It does take a lot of time. Luckily Vivita, my co-founder is a great editor, like language comes so beautifully to her, so we are able to express ourselves. Also, we feel that, as 40-year-old women in the world, trying to navigate this big business world and understanding how things work, there’s a lot we can share with other people because everybody celebrates the success but nobody looks at all the stuff that goes behind it. So we feel that, that’s something we can share with the world. So we do it and it’s really gratifying. 

Vani 18:03 

That’s lovely. And you said you have an email base of 25,000? 

18:06 Avneet Mann 

Yeah. 25,000 and growing who we mail three times a week. Two promotional emails and one is our newsletter. 

18:13 Vani 

And on what platform do you manage? 

18:15 Avneet Mann 

Yeah, so we use a tool called Cladeo. It syncs with Shopify. So all our customer data from Shopify sits in it. It’s great for segmentation. It’s an expensive tool, but we think that it pays for itself. And, so hence that’s what we use. 

Vani 18:29 

How do you say it pays for itself? In what ways do you say that? 

Avneet Mann 18:32 

That the business generated because it has great analytics. So the business that every click is tracked, every sale from after that email is tracked. So the amount of business that’s getting generated from email marketing pays for the tool. Because it’s a fairly expensive tool for Indians, especially now with the dollar being as shitty. 

Vani 18:53 

So you’re able to from the email marketing, so you’re saying when I send out an email, for example, if I’m recommending new cushion covers to you, you’re saying that women actually then go click on that and then from the email, they land on the website and end up buying. That’s how you’re saying that the email marketing is paying for itself and you’re able to see the link. 

Avneet Mann 19:13 

Yeah, so basically that you can set up a one day, one-day tracking or a seven-day tracking that from the day the customer opened the email to, if she made a purchase, it tracks and tells you that this email, you sold this much, this is what you sold. This is who you sold to and this is the amount. 

Vani 19:29 

Fantastic. Okay. Now I want to know, we are coming from the world that I do, which is from this FMCG world, the world of Unilever where in all global companies, we have this thing called the brand book. Okay. It’s the Bible for a marketing head. And we look at that for guidance on everything, what colours to use, not use, the typography, illustration style, photography style. What’s the past of the brand? What is the visual language? What is the sensorial language? All of that. Is there something of this kind that you have by way of a document that exists in the company or is this just something between you and Vivita, you just have such a great understanding of the brand that you’re not worried about the documentation. You just feel it comes naturally to us and we know what the Wishing Chair is about. 

Avneet Mann 20:21 

No. So we do have a manual in terms of brand colours and fonts and DOs and DONTs. It’s not as detailed as it would be say at a Unilever where even how every detail of the colour and 

Vani 20:34 

Yeah. The combinations and

Avneet Mann 20:36 

What sweater the girl would wear? Those kind of things we would have. But, it’s pretty clear in my team’s head that, when you put five products together or you put five visuals together that this is us and this is not us. So the template is pretty, pretty clear in our heads and in our understanding, but we do have documentations on fonts, pantones, sizes, combinations of 

Vani 21:01 

And was this something that is done by an external agency for you? Is this something that you developed in-house? 

Avneet Mann 21:05 

No. We worked with an international designer, long back. She’s a Colombian person who helped us put the brand manual together. 

Vani 21:12 

Lovely. And you felt that there was a need for some such thing. At what stage did you feel that I need to engage this Columbian? I need to put this together. I need to spend money on this activity. 

Avneet Mann 21:23 

Before we started wishing chair, very clear, consistency is important. I also worked in brand, earlier. 

Vani 21:32 

Even before you started the wishing chair, you actually did this? 

Avneet Mann 21:35 

Yes. The brand identity. We did the whole exercise before. 

Vani 21:38 

Fantastic. Wow. Okay. One last question, which is on your Instagram following. You have crazy number of followers and you have

Avneet Mann 21:45 


Vani 21:47  

256,000, that’s amazing. How long did it take for you to get there? 

Avneet Mann 21:53 

A long time. Instagram, we started in 2014. So, yeah, but it’s legit, it’s been built one by one. It’s not something that we put out crazy amount of ads and bought because we didn’t think that means anything. The person has to believe in what you’re doing. They have to love what you’re doing and then only will they buy into your story. But being a small business, not having the kind of budgets that large companies have for advertising, hoardings, et cetera. Social media has been the single biggest driver in our ability to build our brand. So we take it really seriously. We post consistently, we ensure the aesthetic is on point. Last few months have been a little hard on Facebook and Instagram, because the algorithm is really volatile. So we’re not understanding what is going on, we’re trying to figure that out. But the only thing I would say is that, it takes time and you need to be consistent. We’ve built it. 

Vani 22:48

How many posts a week do you do? 

Avneet Mann 22:50 

So we’ll do one post a day and three stories. 

Vani 22:53 

One post a day and three stories, every day. Wow. That is a lot. And with your current merchandise. So you find new ways of using your current merchandise. 

Avneet Mann 23:05 

Yeah. You need to contextualize, then there are some lots of topical things that one can talk about and then there are various, you can repost user generated content where other people are posting, but you need to be present every day. You need to be consistent. A day, should not be missed. And you need to answer every query that comes on Instagram, every comment that somebody puts out there. And a lot of people say that, Hey, find an intern who can do this or find an agency. I don’t think that works. It needs to be in-house and it needs to be controlled by a person who is a brand custodian. Because I’ve also had founders complain saying, oh, my brand manager has become a social media manager who doesn’t do any other thing, he only posts things. But you’re saying that, that is of tremendous value because my brand is that what you see on Instagram is a large part of what we are. 

Vani 23:54 Because, now in today’s day and age, that’s the first interaction most people will have. In fact, I’ve seen my own behaviour. When I look up something, instead of going on Google first, I’m first checking out a brand on Instagram. It’s my first go to, to check out. That’s interesting. And tell me, when you did choose Instagram in 2016, did you think about Facebook as being your primary platform? 

Avneet Mann 24:17 

We started with Facebook first and that was our primary platform, but soon we realized that everybody is sort of starting to move to Instagram. So then we were doing both. And at some point the engagement on Facebook just kind of really went low. And now Instagram allows you to repost everything you post on Instagram to Facebook. So we’ve set that up. So everything we put on Instagram goes to Facebook, but Instagram is our primary way of marketing. It’s a primary channel. 

Vani 24:43  

Fantastic. And from Instagram, you’re able to take people onto the website. And you’re able to track that as well. And you do analytics on that as well to see what kind of posts are getting you, what kind of traffic?

Avneet Mann 24:55 

Yeah. So Instagram has good analytics. I wouldn’t say they’re great, but they’re good. But from Instagram, Shopify then will tell you that, oh, who came, where, what happened and as well as Google analytics. So it’s a great tool, as a small business. It’s one of the best tools out there available to bring traffic to your website though, it’s getting harder and harder than D2C because there’s just so much clutter in the last years. 

25:18 Vani 

Okay. Fantastic. One last question yet again, because getting traffic is the biggest, I would imagine to do for you as a founder, right? At the end of the day, the same woman can buy only so many cushions and so many mugs. At the end of the day, you need more number of consumers to discover the wishing chair. In all of that you do, what do you do to be able to attract more number of users? For you I would imagine trial lists is the single biggest deliverable, having lots more people coming and discovering the wishing chair and finding that one beautiful thing that they can buy in the house [00:26:00] and bring some part of the wishing chair into the house for the first time. 

26:03 Avneet Mann 

Yeah. So obviously we are focusing a lot on performance marketing. So as to put the brand out there in number of, in front of new prospects, we are trying to work with small micro influencers, especially in the home space and sell them seed the product to their base and community. Last month we’ve also signed up with a few marketplaces because that’s where the customer already is. So if we can be found there, then that would help. We’re also trying to do tie ups with other stores across the country to see that if we can do small shop in shops or placements over there. So these are the various things that we are trying, and we’re also hoping at some point we would like to be present in other countries. So like the middle east is something that we are really thinking about. They are taking our brand too, so we feel that, that would also open up a new avenue and a new market for us. 

26:53 Vani 

Very nice. Have you ever considered traditional marketing? No. Like not TV, but [00:27:00] newspaper or hoardings or 

Avneet Mann 27:01

We would love to once we have the budgets.

Vani 27:05

So it’s not that you’re reverse to it. 

Avneet Mann 27:07 

No, of course not. 

Vani 27:08 

And can I ask, as of now, how much money do you spend on performance marketing, month and month? 

Avneet Mann 27:13

We spend about 14% of sales. 

27:16 Vani 

14% of sales on performance marketing alone. But this would not be your total marketing budget.

Avneet Mann 27:22 

No, but it’s a large part of our budget. Large part of our marketing budget. 

27:27 Vani 

Wow. And would you ever consider a possibility of reducing or skinning some part of this performance marketing budget and putting it into offline, even if that offline means driving traffic hyper locally from where your stores are? If you have a store in South Point Mall Gurgaon, how can I drive more traffic from around that to be able to come and discover the wishing chair? 

27:51 Avneet Mann 

Of course we haven’t found a format yet. That kind of works for us. But if you have any ideas or anybody are listening has any ideas. We would love to try it. I’m a big believer that you have to try a hundred new things in very small ways every month and find what’s works, then optimize it and optimize and optimize it, so that you can scale it. So I’m a big believer in that and always open to trying anything. Do you do any kind of analytics in the shop itself? Is there any kind of data that you collect in the shop itself to figure who’s coming to my shop? Is she a first time? Is she a repeat. So, what we do have is that our online and our offline data is linked. So if we know who’s the person, if she shop online before, if she shopped offline, the same data is visible to the store manager. 

Vani 28:36 

How is that? So for example, just last week, I went and bought that vase from your shop and she asked me for my mobile number. And then as soon as she put my mobile number, was it mobile number or email ID? 

Avneet Mann 28:48 

Either. It can be either. 

Vani 28:49 

And then she said, mam, we have your data. 

Avneet Mann 28:51 

Yeah. So we have a backend system, a tech stack, which allows us and our store managers, as well as our digital marketing [00:29:00] person to see that how our customer is interacting with us. Because a customer doesn’t see my shop as different from my website. So then, it’s all the same. So I can’t treat them separately either. So the person who’s interacting with them should know where she went last and what she did. So that information is integrated and available across because a person might buy a gift card online for somebody and that person might want to redeem it in the store. Or she may have bought something online and said, I’m going to exchange it in the store. So we have to allow for all of that, because it’s the same brand to her. So hence the data we collect syncs between the stores and online, so as to ensure that we’re an Omni channel offering to the customer.

Vani 29:41 

Beautiful. So you are saying that the store manager would have visibility to the fact that Vani has bought blah, blah, blah, from the website? 

Avneet Mann 29:50 


Vani 29:51 

Wow. And then she would do what with that information. 

Avneet Mann 29:55 

So she can initiate a conversation with you that last time you bought this and how did that go? Or [00:30:00] we saw you bought this table cover, we also have napkins with it now, along with it. So there’s cross selling that can happen. There’s also engagement, also a customer when she comes into a store like ours needs to feel seen. She needs to feel that she’s been catered to. So that can only happen if the store manager has access to information. Otherwise, it’s just another body that is walking by, walking out. And so we don’t want her to feel like here we are just here to sell it to you. 

Vani 30:27 

Exactly. So it’s not a transaction. You matter to me. 

Avneet Mann 30:30 


Vani 30:30 

And I know what your worldview is. I know where you’ve transacted or what’s important to you or what interested you.

Avneet Mann 30:39 

Yeah. I see you, I’m here for you. You’re my friend. 

Vani 30:41 

You’re not a consumer. You are, let’s say Payal Singh, who’s interested in blah, blah, blah kind of stuff. 

Avneet Mann 30:47 

You’re part of our community. We get you. That’s what we want our customers to feel in our stores. 

Vani 30:51 

Fantastic. Fantastic. Okay, one more thing, which is this thing, since you took the word community. What is a [00:31:00] community to you? For a brand that sells mugs and cushion covers and table mats and whatever else. What is the role of a community? 

Avneet Mann 31:08 

So how I see community is, my customer is me and I am my customer. So all my challenges, all the things that I think about, all the things that are out there, all the things that I need, there are lots of women out there who think the same way or feel, have the same challenges on, especially in a similar age bracket, right? So a connection between them to me is community. That’s what we try. 

Vani 31:32 

But how do I build a connection with someone else who’s bought table mats that are very similar to what I bought.

Avneet Mann 31:38

Yeah. So what we’re trying to do that, with that, we’re trying to actually solve for it in terms of a user generated content kind of a way. Because a lot of the time a woman is confused that will this work for me or not work for me. But if somebody else puts it out there to her that listen, Hey, I tried it, it really worked for me. Then that helps with that purchase. So what we are trying to do is build that. [00:32:00] Also in our newsletter, we try to put together information basis what other people are sharing with us so that there’s this feeling of I’m not alone in the world. So that’s what we are trying to solve for that that, I am you like, what you need is also what I need. My challenges are also the same and that is how we’re trying to solve for, rather than just saying, Hey, let’s make a Facebook group where everyone can just kind of ask questions and answer, because I think there’s already so much of that, that’s happening. 

Vani 32:27 

Lovely. I think there’s so much in this space because when it comes to making your house beautiful, actually in the daily stresses, it’s you always feel like you’re bereft of ideas on what you could do. There are blank spots created in the house, like in my own house, I feel if an outsider were to walk into my house and look at it, they’d say, why is this spot so dark or why don’t you clean up this mess? What if we want to brighten this up with something? And I wonder if the role of a community, the wishing chair community could actually solve for stuff like this. 

Avneet Mann 32:59 

Of course. And also it’s overwhelming, right? These are approaches which are not necessarily cheap. And there’s a whole thing that will it work? Because design is also iterative. We have the ability to keep changing it in the store and all, but if you bought it for your house and you’re like, Hey, already paid money for it. Now it doesn’t look good. I don’t know what I’m doing. So if there are people out there who are inspiring you who are contextualizing it for you, who are giving you ideas on how to use. Then that helps build that confidence that you need saying that, Hey, I saw it there. It worked for me. It worked for her, so it could work for me. So let me go out and get this. So that’s also something that a role that the community plays. 

Vani 33:36 

Very nice. On that note. Thank you so much. It’s been lovely chatting with you. 

Avneet Mann 33:41 

Thanks Vani. Thank you for having me. It’s been a privilege. 

Vani 33:43 

Thank you. 

This show is sponsored by CherryPeachPlum Growth Consultancy. 🍒CherryPeachPlum is a marketing-focused business consultancy that delivers business results. Get in touch via to get marketing solutions that work in the real world!

Unravelling Numberz For SMEs | Aditya Tulsian @ Numberz

The real challenge for the SME sector lies in day-to-day cash flow management. A large number of start-ups today have started providing financial services to SMEs, often functioning as an alternative to banks.

Numberz is a Fintech Saas start-up streamlining the day-to-day banking activities of SMEs. Aditya, an alumnus of the Indian School of Business, speaks about his vision of spotting the right opportunity in the Fintech sector. 

Key takeaways:-

  • Learnings from previous stints.
  • Converting the thought to Numberz.
  • Fundraising Journey.

Building The Fintech Backbone | Prabhu Rangarajan @ M2P Fintech

In a gold rush, the ones who sell the shovels are the ones who make the most money.  In the fintech gold rush that we are seeing today, it’s a company like M2P Fintech that is selling the shovels; connecting banks, fintech, and businesses with custom APIs for financial services. 

This episode is a must-listen for anyone who wants to understand the fintech ecosystem in India!

Know about:-

  • Conceptualizing use cases
  • Coining the term “payments infrastructure”
  • Building a neo banking platform
  • The BNPL scheme

Lord Of The Logistics | Abhishek Bansal @ Shadowfax

An IIT Delhi alumnus who, inspired by the Chinese startup scene, built India’s largest hyperlocal tech-backed gig marketplace- Abhishek’s story is truly like that of Frodo Baggins. 

In an insight-packed conversation, Abhishek tells Akshay about the journey of building Shadowfax.

Know about:-

  • Aggregating supply and demand
  • Pivoting towards enterprises
  • Creating static hotspots
  • Data-feedback loop of the enterprise product

The Startup That Started With An IPO | Shachindra Nath @ U GRO Capital

Unlike most founders who first have an idea, then build a prototype and then raise funds, Shachindra started big – by directly acquiring a publicly listed financial institution that he transformed into U GRO Capital.

In this episode, you’ll hear about some unique innovations of this fintech platform that is at the forefront of the digitization of SMEs.

Know about:-

  • The core idea of starting U GRO Capital
  • Data-driven underwriting in SMEs
  • How U GRO Capital acts as a lending gateway
  • Smart Business credit card- a GST-based credit card

A Techie’s Tale Of Spirituality | Prashant Sachan @ AppsForBharat

Bhakti and Bharat are inseparable. Finding its root in Sanskrit, Bhakti means spirituality and encompasses community, mental well-being, and philanthropy. Being a uniquely Indian concept, the market for this space remains hugely untapped.

Prashant is an Internet entrepreneur who created a spiritual-tech app to serve the emerging devotional needs of Indians. He tells Akshay Datt about his journey of building this engagement lead consumer platform.

Know about:-

  1. Finding cofounders for the first venture
  2. Genesis and evolution of Trell
  3. Model of AppsForBharat and the flywheel of growth
  4. Community features and virtual darshan

Chaos. Code. Clear | Srivatsan Chari @ Clear

A trailblazer in the Fintech SaaS space, Srivatsan started Clear in an era when no one seriously considered giving up stable jobs to become founders. It was among the first India-focused startups to get into the Y Combinator program, Silicon Valley’s foremost startup accelerator in 2014.

Srivatsan narrates his journey of building the startup that is demystifying personal finances for Indians.

Know about:-

  1. Building the first version of Clear
  2. Coding tax laws
  3. Pitch to Y Combinator
  4. Figuring out the pricing strategy

Serving Notifications To A Billion Eyeballs | Neel Kothari @ iZooto

There are 2 ways to build a startup – one is through cash burn and the other is by bootstrapping it- the harder but sustainable way. This episode is a masterclass in building a startup the harder way.

Akshay Datt speaks with Neel Kothari who built iZooto, a push notification platform that touches the lives of billions consuming news on the Internet!

Know about:-

  • Concept of “owned audience marketing”
  • Customer retention & future engagement- personalizing messaging at scale
  • Making it contextual to the content
  • RSS feed integration & developing own content recommendation engine

Reimagining The Humble Bread | Aditi Handa and Sneh Jain @ The Baker’s Dozen

This edition is a delectable one where Akshay Datt chats with a couple elevating India’s experience of bread consumption. Aditi Handa and Sneh Jain are the founders of The Baker’s Dozen, India’s first artisan bakery brand serving an exquisite variety of authentic European breads and bakery products. 

Aditi is a trained baker from the renowned International Culinary Institute in New York and Sneh is an IIM-A alumnus and an ex-McKinsey consultant. Together they started up the venture, with Aditi passionately steering the product, and Sneh building the business with an eye on the numbers.

Know about:-

  • Aditi’s learnings at International Culinary Institute, New York
  • Sneh Jain’s epiphany at McKinsey- using lego blocks to create a world
  • Scaling up the supply chain
  • Evolution of sales channel: the omnichannel approach

Disrupting Biology With Algorithms | Dr. Manoj Gopalkrishnan @ Algorithmic Biologics

This episode is a crash course in molecular biology, a $62 billion industry, and its several real-world applications.

Akshay Datt speaks with Dr. Manoj Gopalkrishnan, Founder and CEO of Algorithmic Biologics, a deep-tech startup providing the highest quality molecular testing at a fraction of the market cost. Their first product, Tapestry, is an award-winning software delivering affordable large-scale Covid-19 testing.

Dr. Manoj is an alumnus of IIT Kharagpur who, after completing his doctorate in the US, came back to India and became an associate professor at IIT Bombay, before starting Algorithmic Biologics.

Know about:-

  • Contributions during Ph.D. and RSA algorithm
  • RT-PCR test and Tapestry
  • Challenges of the medical diagnostics market
  • How molecular computing leads to better molecular testing