Niche E-Commerce Brands In The Making: Art And Decors & Gizmofashion

Inspiring Stories

16 November 2017

Niche E-Commerce Brands In The Making: Art And Decors & Gizmofashion

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

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

Having worked for 10 long years, Divyan Gupta decided it was time to find inspiration elsewhere. In 2008, he took a conscious call to move from his rewarding career at one of the most prestigious Fortune 500 and FTSE 10 companies. An MBA degree from Boston offered him the opportunity for a much-needed time-off from his professional life, after which he went back to working in the U.S. and a little later, in India.

However, in 2012, Divyan was all set to take off on a different route. He had already comprehended the infinite scope for disruption in literally every industry before taking a sabbatical from his blooming career. Brushing shoulders with people from different walks of life like academia, government, professional and business worlds had further fanned his entrepreneurial streak. Thus, his brainchildren – Art and Decors, and Gizmofashion took off.

While both of them are curated e-commerce brands, Art and Decors specialises in India’s first affordable luxury brand for décor items and lifestyle products that cater to the preferences of global citizens.

The brainwave for dealing in paintings and artifacts struck Divyan when finding quality décor for his new home in Delhi turned out to be a task for him quite unexpectedly. He discovered that there were hardly any places from where he could source quality and affordable home décor that met his personal choices. The options tapered down to either purchasing ‘whatever is available’ from the flea markets or settle for the ones from the private art galleries that showcased elitist and premium artworks that were devoid of sufficient information.

Another challenge for him was that “even for the décor products, the only choice was between imported products from Asian countries with really no legacy or pedigree and quality or products made in local markets but being sold as high-end décor products.” Discovering that this problem was definitely not unique only to him, he knew he had experienced his ‘Eureka moment’.

 

In a separate instance, Divyan faced technical problems with his 3-month old smartphone that he had bought from a popular e-commerce ‘marketplace’. He took it to the service centre only to be told that the warranty had already expired.

He felt cheated, understanding that a refurbished phone had been sold to him repackaged as a “new” unit. Knowing that this cannot be a one-off incident, he decided to address the plight of the Indian masses who are regularly duped by online marketplace sellers. Thus his second venture, Gizmofashion, was born.

What had started as a brand for fashionable accessories like cases and covers for mobile phones, laptop, among other types of gizmos, diversified into manufacturing 100% genuine and manufacturer warranty-backed electronic products as well.

 

Since the last 5 years, Gizmofashion makes gizmos from global tech giants available to people as is, offering their products directly to customers without being a marketplace. Currently, it has collaborated with companies like Apple, Samsung, Canon, Gitzo, National Geographic, Sony and many more.

Their constant efforts in innovation has earned them prestigious honours and recognition of being an ‘Innovative Startup’ by the Government of India under their flagship Startup India program, Top 100 Companies in Asia by Red Herring, among others.

Divyan strongly believes in maintaining a lean team structure and enhancing efficiencies through automation. He owes a large part of the success of his business endeavour to his brother, Katyayan, for managing a part of the business along with his job. A competent team of engineers and designers further contributes to the success story by improving the products and services through innovation. Last but not the least, their customer service bot, Anya, helps them leverage automation through artificial intelligence to delight customers. This makes them the first e-commerce brand to have a bot. Both human efforts and Artificial Intelligence has set the pace for success and are taking him closer to his dream of building “profitable niche e-commerce brands from India that are within the top 3 global brands.”

Divyan strongly feels that discipline is critical to every sphere, more so for entrepreneurs. Distractions while working from home and at coffee shops are a well-known evil, making co-working spaces score over these options. Besides, it saves them from the hassles of undertaking the non-core activities of managing their own workspace. Besides, he concurs Awfis offers him the opportunity to network with other people and gain inspiration from them. While the community feel and professional yet jovial team at Awfis makes it a fun experience for his team to work here, he would have liked it a bit more greenery around his workspace. We will keep that in mind, Divyan!

We, at Awfis, cannot but agree that Divyan’s journey so far has been an inspiring one, and are proud to foster such inspiring stories in our co-work spaces.

How the lockdown taught us collaboration & other management lessons

Inspiring Stories

07 July 2020

How the lockdown taught us collaboration & other management lessons

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

Unlock 1 has seen many get back to their office spaces and adapt to the new normal of masks and social distancing. It’s a good time to reflect on the many lessons we’ve learnt during the lockdown and how we can apply it to our corporate lives. Sometimes, all it takes for change to take effect is the lack of choice. As we grappled with being locked at home, we geared up to learn new skills, find new ways of entertainment and we collectively managed to remote work effectively. Here’s a look at some lessons we can take back to work with us:

Are we all Digital yet?

Somewhere between forgetting to switch on the mute button and switching off the camera, we all grew up to be digital. The world before the lockdown was divided between the Digital Natives and the Digital not-quite-there-yet. What stopped us from adopting technology which existed to make our lives simpler and help us work more efficiently? And yet, how come when it came to personal usage, we easily figured out Firestick/Chromecast streaming and the latest cell phones? Learning happens out of interest or necessity; and at a company level the interest must trickle top down. The leadership team and managers need to bring in a culture of systemic learning and that begins with them upskilling to lead by example. This serves a dual purpose – one that accepts not knowing everything is normal and second that it’s never too late to learn.

The Key Takeout: For organisations to innovate and evolve, there needs to be a culture of learning. The ‘why fix it if it ain’t broke’ philosophy is the biggest roadblock to innovation.  

Workload equals loads of work?

It’s fascinating how we seamlessly divided house tasks based on innate ability – the younger ones for physically-intense housecleaning, the ones who knew cooking took up kitchen work and the rest did dishes and groceries. Some people rotated duties but each family found its own rhythm. Each person was accountable for their work, knew the others’ tasks and trusted them to do it. Of course, things work differently in the corporate world with its clearly demarcated job profiles and associated qualifications; however, we can take a leaf out of this and relook at how we can assign work beyond qualifications. Align teams to a short-term common goal, clearly define how they’re contributing to it individually and collectively, and acknowledge that effort and result.

The Key Takeout: Working collaboratively by its very nature takes away the sense of ‘it’s not my job’ and builds a system where each one is aware and thus appreciative of the work the others are doing.

Time: Too much of a good thing?

Humans are creatures of habit which is why when faced with what seemed like infinite time, we used it exactly the way we are accustomed to spending it. The workaholics worked, the fitness freaks worked out, TV addicts binged and almost everyone learned to bake! But at some point we got a sense of too much, even if it was something we enjoyed, we started missing the office, the routine. How does this apply in the corporate world? If you let people chill and do what they love for some time, you’ll get them more refreshed and charged up to work rather than restricting them to strictly work during work hours. By forbidding things, we make them more appealing. This is not a carte blanche to slack off but a more lenient work style where half an hour on YouTube or a game of Scrabble is acceptable and doesn’t have to be done behind the boss’ back.

The Key Takeout: If work is no more restricted from 9 to 5, why should fun have set timings? Set boundaries but don’t make work and life mutually exclusive.

Focusing vs flexibility?

The easily distracted, and that’s pretty much all of us, will find a distraction worth their time. Pets and children replaced colleagues, chores replaced coffee breaks and SOs replaced bosses. On the other hand, we were saved from focusing on what to wear, what is she wearing, where to go after work, the meeting that should’ve been an email etc. The lockdown brought home the truth on how much time and energy is wasted on things of little or no significance. Despite the increase in daily chores, the lack of an office environment, and distractions at home; most people reported being more productive while working from home. Should this mean an end to office as we know it? Yes and no. The office as we knew it – singular location, fixed timings, everyone & everyday reporting – needs to give way to a more flexible, work from home and work near home approach. The flexibility may differ between industries, organisations but the core approach needs to evolve.

The Key Takeout: Focus on what’s essential and become a more outcome/goal-oriented workplace. Does it really matter if the person delivers an exceptional presentation wearing trousers or pyjamas?

When the lines between office and home are getting increasingly blurred, there’s merit to introspect and apply learnings from home and family to help teams work better.   The lockdown tested and demonstrated our potential to trust, collaborate and handle a crisis; and it would be a shame to not carry some of this back with us as we head back to office.

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!