Aporv is an interesting startup that brings hand made handicraft online enabling the artisans to sell to a wider audience. An interesting part about Aporv is that the company doesn’t decides on the product price and leaves that for artisans themselves to judge.
Started by IT professionals, Aporv is an attempt to bring the authentic handicraft to wider audience and the team believes in a bit of ‘story telling’ in order to sell the product.
While one would say whats the big deal about a ‘just another ecommerce play’, one needs to understand that this a market where there is a strong demand-supply gap, owing to the distributed nature of the industry.
Read on our interview with the team to understand the concept and the story so far.
a. Tell us about your background and prior experience.
10+ years of corporate life with experience in India, US, China, Taiwan and in my last corporate job I was Sales Director with one of the IT companies in US. I am also the Founder of BITS.aid a volunteering arm of my alma mater, BITS Pilani which gave me exposure to the social sector. Having said that Aporv (www.aporv.com) is a culmination of my interest in creativity, social impact and an opportunity to fill a hiatus I see in the Indian Handicrafts sector.
b. What made you start an *off-beat* ecommerce business like this? What was the trigger?
As I said earlier, it is a culmination of interest and a business opportunity. There are couple of things that triggered this unique model : Aporv (Aporv means Unique in Sanskrit)
- Our own search to find Indian Handicrafts which are authentic, unique and has a historic significance.
- My own interest in creativity and looking for new and unique products.
- Understanding the need and trying to fill that gap.
- Lastly and most importantly, making a Social Impact.
After agriculture, handicraft is the second largest occupation in India with more than 23 million people in this sector. Every 7-10 years 10% of these artisans leave their jobs looking for better opportunities. If this continues the Indian Handicrafts will be lost in the next few decades. This is when we decided to take this situation head on and create a unique ‘aporv’ platform. We are bringing 12 differentiations in the sector with our business model, some are targeted towards the uplift of the Indian Handicraft and some towards our appreciators. We believe in bringing value to our appreciators through various means like,
- Story rather than the product – Our fundamental belief is that given an opportunity we all love to make an educated buy. That’s exactly what we are providing to our appreciators. We bring to our appreciators the story on how the product is made, where it is made and the history of the products which add intrinsic value to the product and provides them the tools to make an educated buy.
- Authentic products – Our own search led to the conclusion that this is one of the most important point to tackle.
- Unique artifacts from across India – Where does one go to find Unique Indian Handicrafts which have historic significance. Our answer is www.aporv.com. We bring to our appreciators artifacts from all over India.
- Open Evaluation – We are trying to revolutionize this sector by opening up the artifacts evaluation by everyone and we call it ‘Open evaluation’. Each artifact on our site can be evaluated on 4 parameters – Skill/ History/ Aesthetics/ Uniqueness.
- Premium Service – We all would love to get a service that we can think of. Aporv aims to provide you just that. We have a policy if you have an unanswered query for 72 working hrs the mail gets directed to the CEO. Yes, we are that serious with our service.
- Returns – To build consumer confidence we currently have “No Questions Asked 7 day return Policy” We believe that you should be satisfied with our products else we will be glad to take it back, No questions asked.
c. How do you source inventory? You mentioned that you don’t decide pricing- how does this happens?
Currently we work with individual artisans, Organizations, NGO and SHG’s. Yes, we don’t decide on the pricing with individual artisans. One of our aim is to make these individual artisans entrepreneurs. We let them price their product, the product at which they would like to provide it to Aporv. We also follow fair trade policies and partner with organizations which follow the same. Going forward to make a bigger impact we also plan to invest a percentage of our revenue back to this sector.