#inspiringstories@Awfis: Bringing the essence of India closer to you - ShopHop

Inspiring Stories

29 July 2016

#inspiringstories@Awfis: Bringing the essence of India closer to you - ShopHop

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

#inspiringstories@Awfis is an initiative by Awfis Editorial Team to showcase the brilliant business ideas and the journey of our startup member community.

The smell of the fresh mango chutney, the crisp green beans, those bright bell peppers, and the aroma of the organic tea are just few of the things that make your mouth water. We live in a world where organic, fresh and homegrown foods sound like a fairytale.

It is amidst this, that ShopHop brings its USP. ShopHop is a curated marketplace of the finest natural, artisanal and homegrown brands from across India. They pride themselves in sourcing the most innovative brands from homes, kitchens, farms and markets across the country and in showcasing these brands to consumers. At the heart of their mission is the desire to build a new community centered on food and wellness. They are providing budding artisans and food entrepreneurs across the country with a holistic platform to showcase their talents and products and their customers with an entirely new discovery based experience.

ShopHop was founded by a small, yet an ambitious team comprising of Anirban Poddar, Dhruv Jhaveri, Amer Ahmad and Pramod Kokare. Anirban is the Founder & brainchild behind ShopHop. Dhruv handles partnerships and business development. Amer looks after operations and business strategy while Pramod is the in-house SEO expert.

ShopHop-Team-blog-image
Team ShopHop

It was in the fall semester of 2012 when Anirban Poddar took some time off from Columbia and was taken up by how large and fragmented the unorganized retail market in India was. Anirban says, “We tried to bring 15-20 of the most popular local stores in South Mumbai online and helped them digitize their operations while opening them up to the entire Indian market through our portal. That said – this was more of a pet project that I looked at on weekends and in my spare time without the constant attention and focus that it deserved.”

When he returned in July 2015, they decided to pivot the model with hyper local, proving to be a very thin margin business with heavy dependence on logistics infrastructure. As a frequent visitor of farmer’s markets and food exhibitions, Anirban noticed a huge untapped market for food entrepreneurs. Many of these individuals and hobbyists were making incredible food items but lacked the platform and branding/business know-how to build sustainable businesses from their talents. They realized that the industry needed help, and thus they began an online community that was as immersive as the farmers’ market experiences.

Building the food entrepreneurs’ network required a lot of research and sourcing at farmers’ markets and exhibitions. They connected and built a whole network of food entrepreneurs who further helped them with vendors.  Various food entrepreneurs also contacted them and got in touch directly with Shop Hop.

ShopHop mainly looks for brands that are either natural or artisanal. All their products are organic, sustain-ably produced, or made entirely of natural ingredients with no artificial additives or preservatives often found in mass-produced brands. Their products are handpicked by ShopHop’s sourcing team and offer funky twists on traditional recipes, span across an array of ethnic foods or are made with unique (even patented!) methods of production. Not only does it have to be of top quality, but it should also have an interesting story that people can believe in.

Being an entrepreneur at 23 comes with a host of challenges that require a lot of rapid learning. That said, two of the major challenges directly associated with ShopHop have been awareness and logistics.

Anirban says, “It takes time to educate customers about unique and innovative new food brands and why they make for a greater purchase decision.  They are in some ways changing behaviors here and that takes investment and time.” He adds, “The second but greater hassle has definitely been logistics and deliveries. This is a major operational challenge across the country and after several months of attempting to fulfill this on our own we decided to outsource logistics to a third party provider. However, we continue to handle pick-ups to ensure quality control and oversight and this comes with a number of its own challenges.”

With a vision to become the go-to platform for food entrepreneurs to build sustainable growth, PAN-India brands and for customers to discover the most exciting and innovative packaged food products, Anirban believes that there is a greater design and everything happens for a reason.  The goal to reach 300 brands in Mumbai by mid-2017 and a target of 120 crore GMV by December 2017 shows that ShopHop is the one to look out for!

We think that Anirban’s entrepreneurial journey is motivational and we are proud to have such inspiring stories building in our centres!

This is an inspiration to all of us to start our dream venture by taking a single step. Take your first step by hiring a co-working office space Churchgate, Mumbai or Connaught Place, New Delhi and write your success story here.

This story is based on the interview of Mr. Anirban Poddar, Founder – Shop Hop by Awfis Editorial Team.

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Why do Leaders Swear by Thinking Fast and Slow?

Inspiring Stories

27 April 2020

Why do Leaders Swear by Thinking Fast and Slow?

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

According to Daniel Kahneman, human beings have fractional thinking – System 1 and System 2; where System 1 is the gut, intuitive thinking, and System 2 is analytical, problem-solving and reflective decision making. Overall, both aid our judgement, where for some situations system 1 (fast thinking) provides the foundation for System 2 (slow thinking). But in many conditions, these work independently – for example, first impressions are formed solely by fast thinking. However, best decisions are made when both these methods are running simultaneously.

Hence, leaders swear by thinking fast and slow because it provides multiple business advantages such as:

Error Minimisation: Leaders encourage employees to indulge in fast and slow thinking because it reduces errors. If a person applies any of the two independently, there is a higher chance of tilted decisions. For example, when a person thinks too fast, it leads to cognitive biases, leading to erroneous results. For example, A project demands the regional sales of X product. But an employee registers only ‘sale’, conducts a quick search and quotes global sales while providing no figure for region-wide sales.

Enhanced Productivity: When a person effectively balances both slow and fast thinking, productivity rises sharply. This promotes wise thinkers who analyse situations rather than rely on quick judgments. For example, in a team, two employees do not get along and indulge in ruthless competition. A leader, who applies fast and slow thinking, will adopt a sound strategy to form better relations between the two, such as joint mediations or a combined project. But alternatively, in a quick response, if a leader fires the underperformer, it will be a loss to the team.

Rational Decisions: Decision-making is the basis of management and hence, needs to be made rationally. For example, a team needs to vote for a leader. Some employees, instead of carefully assessing the candidates, might make an unreasonable judgement based on superficial qualities. This will lead to the selection of a wrong candidate, which could be avoided through balanced evaluation based on multiple factors, including appearance, attitude, career trajectory, team spirit, etc.

Quick, Calculated Response: Hasty decision making or slow thinking can both result in a disaster independently. Hence, employees need to be quick but also calculated in their responses. Assume a scenario where a client is angry, and the employee reciprocates with the same emotion or worse. In such situations, the employees should be prompt yet calculated with their replies, calm the client and ensure error rectification.

Better Negotiation: For leaders, negotiation is an everyday task. One of the most important factors that can help a leader win a negotiation is how well he/she understands the opponent. The principles of thinking fast and slow help one to better understand the opponent and ultimately win an argument.

Thinking fast and slow advocates a healthy balance of the gut and factual thinking.

How to Harness the Power of Lateral Thinking to Enhance Creativity?

Inspiring Stories

20 April 2020

How to Harness the Power of Lateral Thinking to Enhance Creativity?

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

As working professionals, productivity and creativity come at the apex of keeping a business going. The world out there is competitive, the industry stops for no one, and innovation becomes the key. Therefore, it becomes vital to continually engage with unique techniques to produce out-of-the-box ideas. Lateral thinking can help you work those grey cells and keep the creativity flowing.

What is lateral thinking?
The term was first coined by the famous psychologist Edward de Bono. He summarized the need for lateral thinking by saying, “You cannot dig a hole in a different place by digging the same hole deeper.”
Once you are presented with a problem, how do you get to thinking about its solution? Lateral thinking can help you break the barrier of age-old solution-driven techniques that have become redundant in the modern age. While practising lateral thinking, the answer is searched in indirect and creative light. When your perception about the problem is tweaked, the solution-driven mind is forced to think of alternatives and come up with solutions that are unique to one’s experiences.
Steps to harness the power of lateral thinking
A few things that can help you execute lateral thinking perfectly are –
1. Stay curious. The only way one can look at the question/problem from a new perspective is when they are questioning everything enough. Ask yourself questions about the whole concept before working your mind towards solutions.
2. Since lateral thinking has only one rule, i.e. think outside the box, there are no restrictions on the order in which the thought must proceed. You could also ideate solutions first and then think backwards. It will help you garner creativity.
3. Switch personas. Sometimes thinking differently could be difficult. An effective technique would be to think of yourself as a different person and run your thoughts as if you were someone else.

Why should you practice lateral thinking?
There are many pros to this technique. Some of them include-
1. It pushes you towards alternatives. When you look at the problem in an unusual light, it naturally will invoke newer solutions, something that will be more creative and unique.
2. It boosts productivity. Eliminating redundancy and monotony, lateral thinking will drive impressive ideas, keeping you motivated enough to not give up and keep working.
3. It makes your solution/product a potential game-changer. Most start-ups or early-stage companies rely on products and solutions that can help them impress stakeholders, including investors and consumers. A novel and out-of-the-box idea is sure to grab eyeballs and get the ball rolling for you.
4. It can be used during interviews to test the creative potential of the candidates. A talent that can drive your business towards incredible heights must be screened well!

The Rags-to-Riches Story of Jack Ma

Inspiring Stories

24 October 2019

The Rags-to-Riches Story of Jack Ma

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

We’re just two months away from entering a new year. And if you are looking for some inspiration to chart your journey into 2020 as a business leader par excellence, this is the story you want to read. Learn how Jack Ma, co-founder of the Alibaba Group, didn’t just dream big, but made it happen. He has rewritten the rules of the e-commerce game, become ‘China’s richest man’ and has gone on to become ‘the most flamboyant tech founder on the planet’.

Jack Ma – A man with great emphasis on learning

Born Ma Yun on 10th September 1964 in Hangzhou, China, Ma worked as a tourist guide for nine years so that he could practice spoken English. Interestingly, it was an American tourist who nicknamed him Jack when they were pen-pals. Although he was Head of the Student Council in school, college was not easy. He struggled to obtain his degree and then enrolled himself at a teaching institute to become a lecturer in English at Hangzhou Dianzi University.

 In 1994, Ma started his first company, Hangzhou Haibo Translation Agency. The following year, he visited the US with his friends for a better understanding of the World Wide Web. There he realised that China and Chinese products found no mention on the internet. This motivated him to start his second company, chinapages.com, which he registered in the US. In three years, the company earned about USD 800,000!

The birth of Ali Baba – A global inspiration

For the next few years, Ma headed an IT company established by the China International Electronic Commerce Center, a department of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation. He quit in 1999 to return to Hangzhou with his team to found Alibaba, China’s answer to Amazon. Ma firmly believed in an open market economy that caters to customer needs. Soon, his company revealed the mega potential of small and mid-sized (SMEs) businesses across the globe. In 2014, Alibaba raised USD 25 billion, the largest initial public offering in US financial history to become one of the world’s most profitable technology companies.

The rejections en route – A tale of extraordinary perseverance

Ma’s parents worked as musical storytellers and growing up, he had little exposure to the world of business. Life threw him his fair share of rejections and failures, teaching the entrepreneur important lessons in patience and perseverance. His first tryst with failure was during college graduation, when he could not succeed in clearing the Chinese entrance exams until his fifth attempt!

He applied 10 times to Harvard Business School; he was rejected every time. Ma also applied for 30 different jobs, including one at KFC, but failed to hear back from any of them! The failures only strengthened his tenacity and will to succeed. Today, he inspires people with his stories urging them to remain steadfast in the face of obstacles. An entertainer at heart, Ma enjoys singing and dancing. Did you know that he made his acting debut in 2017 with a Kung Fu short film?

 The richest man in China – More than a serial entrepreneur

Four years after Alibaba received the USD 25 billion funding, Ma announced his plans for retirement as Executive Chairman to pursue educational work. He is seen as a global ambassador for Chinese business, and a role model for start-ups.

As of October 2019, Ma is one of China’s richest men, with a net worth of USD 37.9 billion. He also featured in the Forbes’ list of World’s Most Powerful People and World’s Greatest Leaders. However, he remains frugal in his daily life, with humble hobbies like meditation, reading and Tai Chi.

In 2015, he launched Alibaba Hong Kong Young Entrepreneurs Foundation to support entrepreneurs in Hong Kong. The same year, the company funded the rebuilding of 10,000 houses damaged by the earthquake-hit in Nepal. This year, the Foundation launched the Netpreneur initiative that grants a million US dollars each to 10 African entrepreneurs annually, and launched a fund with USD 14.6 million to develop education in Tibet.