When you are going to be a first time parent like me in India, there are many things you are totally clueless about. The most important among them is finding a good site where you can look at the various options and prices before actually buying them.
With the surge of interest in e-commerce from the investing community, there are many niche product offerings that have come up in this space. We have covered Kidloo earlier and there are others like BabyOye and Hushbabies. The new entrant in this space is Firstcry – started by Supam Maheshwari and Amitava Saha – both IIM grads (whoever said IIM guys couldn’t do startups).
Firstcry comes as a breath of fresh air compared to similar businesses. For one, I didn’t hear it from my usual startup sources but through my friends on Facebook. Their FB page has more than 10k likes (that sure is a huge number for India – especially for such a niche product). They also have a few contests running on their FB page to engage users (send photos and go to Disney, some discount on registering) etc. In terms of social engagement, I would rate them very good.
Their product differentiation is intuitive – and site is easy to use (although the other competitors have almost the same usability). I was especially happy with the Sale section – very well targeted towards newborn moms and women in general who look for a good pick all the time. I also briefly tried out their chat based customer support – which is very good (i prefer this to voice based support) – although with a few grammatical errors (the tense got me confused a bit – but overall a much better experience than some call centers I have talked to).
This is a very good attempt at building a niche e-commerce brand in India. Considering the huffing and puffing Indian VCs are doing for ecommerce (which doesn’t mean much for their success really – except that fund raising is easier) – this is a good time to get good valuation if you have decent revenues. Differentiating on tie-ups with stores (like Mothercare, Mom n Me), exploring Group buying (they do mention thats in the works), engaging social media (they have a good start) will make this stand out among the crowd – and definitely sexy for investors.
Firstcry is based out of Pune and mentions that it has a team size of 40. Unlike our usual signoff, we cant advise you to give it a spin if you are not expecting. However it is a great gifting option and we do suggest you use them to gift friends who are expecting (like me – hint) and let us know your experience.
[Added by Ashish: Go back in 2007/2008 and a whole lot of ecommerce startups focused on a niche/a vertical. But now, everybody is selling everything and VCs are hedging their E-commerce risk. We certainly hope this segment doesn’t end up in a similar fashion, though we are in the know of crazy valuation for some of the startups selling baby stuff online.]