Starting up is tough. Bringing up a baby is perhaps tougher. Now imagine doing both together! Meet Richa Dikshit, a former investment banker, mother of two and the founder of Yellow Giraffe, an e-commerce store for toys.
In 2011, Richa took a break from a 10 year long career in Investment banking. Much of her time was spent playing with her first child. She then started making videos reviews of toys and uploading it on YouTube. “It was really an expensive hobby and there was really no grand plan. I really was taking it as it came,” recalls Richa.
In a couple of months, ToyTasting, her YouTube channel, touched a million views and inquiries started pouring in. Richa was also about to have her second baby.
On one side, toy vendors were talking to Richa about having their products reviewed & sold and on the other, parents wanted advice on buying toys. Richa & her husband put the two together and the Yellow Giraffe was born.
“A lot of Indian mothers also got in touch with us saying that they like what we were showcasing. But they didn’t know where to buy it from. That’s when we thought of selling toys,” said Richa.
At that time, large e-commerce companies were just entering the business of selling toys. The market for toys in India is estimated to be about $2.3 bn by 2015. Currently, nearly $450 mn worth of toys are imported and sold for over a billion dollars.
“It was a mighty painful project,” she recalls. In February 2012, her second child was born around the same time the making of Yellow Giraffe was in full swing. The site went live in October that year. “The baby is most comfortable in office even today,” she says.
Most e-commerce companies start with a website and then set out to acquire customers. But in this case, it was the other way around. “We already had customers. We decided to stick to toys because this is where we could differentiate,” said Richa.
ToyTasting has over 14 mn views on YouTube and more than 6500 subscribers.
In a quick Q&A with NextBigWhat, Richa shares her experience.
In India, we have a big problem when it comes to toys as we haven’t played with them ourselves. When we become parents, we don’t understand and appreciate why we need toys. What an Indian customer really needs is a perspective. Parents themselves have very little exposure to toys and as a result there is no natural curiosity. Neither do we have large scale retail stores for toys. So all we do is to buy them clothes, hoping that they will be beautiful human beings.
We can’t groom our children by just buying them clothes. They are not playing games, card games, board games or doing anything fun. We don’t feel productive after a day of watching TV, do we? And we make our children watch TV for hours.
What are the challenges?
Toys aren’t showcased well and there is a great void in terms of educating the parent and making them appreciate toys. This is where ToyTasting comes in.
Did you grow up with a lot of toys?
I didn’t grow up with a lot of toys. But for a while, my father was in Germany so I was exposed to toys. The real exposure came when my elder daughter was born. It taught me what really immersive play is. Everything can’t be substituted by a lot of nannies and a lot of TV.
How did you get discovered on YouTube?
I know it sounds cliched, but good content gets discovered. We are now a YouTube channel partner. Typically, they promote original content made for YouTube. We got recommended and then there was a lot of word of mouth. We haven’t spent any money on marketing ToyTasting. For YouTube in India, we are one of the top 10 original content producers.
What has been the traction like for the website?
It is still very early to talk about traction. The plan is to have a very strong community and not to sell everything. We will also concentrate on better showcasing of products. We have an in house team which works on various aspect of contents. The team is about 8 people now. We also work with a lot of freelancers.
Its too early to share those numbers.
How bad was it for you to work with freelance developers?
It was a horror working with developers. Most have very low work ethics. We really struggled with that. Design and usability is not very well understood in India and very poorly executed. They wanted to do it their way and not from a customer’s perspective. It’s like, I want to eat chola bhatura but he says I don’t have that, can you make do with Kala Chana. But my menu is chola bhatura! It’s a challenge everyone faces.
How do you plan to scale?
On ToyTasting we have over 250 videos. So its not like we are operating on a low scale right now. That said, we are not dependent only on word of mouth. If you do a generic search on “buy toys in India” and such, we rank fairly well. We’ve done a lot of work on SEO. We show up better than a lot of leading websites. We want to see ourselves in the top 3 in Google.