#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.
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.