In India, jewellery is inexplicably tied to life’s milestones and celebrations. Most people still look to their local jewelers for their designs and wares but the modern shopper wants something more- the chance to personalize his or her purchases. After returning from the US, Coimbatore-born Vivek Krishna saw an opportunity to disrupt this traditional business and take it online giving his customers the opportunity to create something completely unique with each product they ordered and AuGrav was born. We chat with Vivek about the venture. An excerpt from the interview:
- What made you start your venture?
With the growing digital scene in India, I believed that we had a very good opportunity to build something new. When the timing was right and I returned to India to start my business. Coimbatore is famous for jewellery manufacturing. Typically, 25 to 30% of jewels across India are sourced from Coimbatore. Being raised here, I thought I had a natural advantage and hence we immersed ourselves in this space, and after couple pivots and lots of learning, we founded AuGrav.
- What has been the key to your business’s success?
The products we offer is what sets us apart. Our products and the brand itself is unique, and something that could exist only online, therefore we had a great market fit. Another important factor has been our team. Though we are a small team of five, each member plays a vital role and we wouldn’t have gotten where we are today without the contributions of each member of the AuGrav team.
- What are the major challenges in your line of business and how did/do you overcome them?
For us, building trust was the biggest challenge. The ticket size is more substantial when compared to a normal e-commerce transaction and hence it was difficult in the beginning. With our great product offering, a caring customer support team, the efforts we put in to build trust, paid off. The other challenge was marketing. With several jewellery brands out there, it was important that we positioned ourselves in a very unique way. We did our best to understand our customers, and have in fact automated and built several products that helps in our marketing.
- Do you have a mentor who guides/advices you on matters of the business?
At different stages, we have had different mentors. We have found a good balance between listening to their advice and following our instincts. I still seek out those senior in a variety of industries for help and am always looking for great mentors.
- Have you benefitted from the use of any specific technology for your regular operations?
The advent of 3D printers has been key in revolutionising our business. We use open source tools like Blender and automate designing to some extent. We have automated a lot of design and marketing parts of our business. We are working on piloting a new innovation where NFC chips will be embedded on the finger rings.
- What strategy do you follow for Customer Satisfaction & Expansion?
For any successful business, customers come first. The strategy we have followed is to listen to customers, and clearly communicate what can be and what cannot be done to set the right expectations. A lot of customers felt the need to see the product. So, we listened to them, and started sharing a 3D model of the product that were interested in their customizations. This was a tremendous hit. And, we’re improving on this with Augmented Reality tools, to help customers understand how the product will look on them! We believe our customers themselves are a big part of our marketing engine. The jewellery we create is so unique that it stands out and anyone they meet, asks about the brand and learns about AuGrav.
- What, according to you, are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
For me, I feel, as an entrepreneur, you need to:
- Listen to Customers
- Be ready to change, and change often
- Perseverance is the key to success and always wins out in the end