In India the art market faces a duality- on one hand, high art is often inaccessible and expensive and on the other, customers find it difficult to find quality art at affordable price. Cupick acts as a platform that brings the artist and the art lover together through quality work and creative products based on the artist’s vision. Founded by Shaishav Todi, Rituraj Dowerah and Justin Alva, Cupick enable artists to monetize their work while ensuring that the customer is guaranteed to receive an excellent product. We chat with Justin about the venture. An excerpt from the interview:
- What made you start your venture?
Shaishav has always been enamoured by art and loved getting new art and design printed on various things. He soon realized that on one side finding high quality art and design were a hassle and there was a lack of choice. On the other side, it was difficult for an individual to get art printed, produced and shipped. Over a brainstorming session comprising beer, ideas scribbled on napkins and much excitement, we took our previous discussions on the lack of accessibility quality artwork and the abject lack of control and opportunity for artists to monetize them in the current model a step forward. We worked on how to solve this problem and put up an alternative model of business where artists and asset owners are in control. This is the genesis of Cupick.
- What has been the key to your business’s success?
Technology has been at the forefront of our approach to solving the problem. By giving artists complete control over their work – from uploading, choosing products to sell on and setting their own prices – it meant we could grow while having a small team that focused on a world-class customer support and user experience. These two aspects have helped us successfully build India’s largest catalogue of high quality art in just under a year and a half.
- What are the major challenges in your line of business and how did/do you overcome them?
At each stage of our journey, we’ve faced different challenges. From having to effectively scale technology and operations, through to acquiring users and customers. At present, our major challenge is on aligning the business and making it ready to take on a larger market. To overcome each challenge, we break them into smaller ones to ensure we’re not overwhelmed by it. It helps us stay focused and achieve minor victories as we get the job done.
- Do you have a mentor who guides/advices you on matters of the business?
While we don’t have a mentor or advisor on the Cupick board, we do reach out to seniors in the industry and other founders if we’re stuck with something.
- Have you benefited from the use of any specific technology for your regular operations?
One of the best examples of our scalable solution is our in-house image processing pipeline which has helped us become amongst the category leaders in under 2 weeks for any new product that we launch. For example, we launched Notebooks in the third week of January. Artists using the platform just had to click a single button to have all their uploaded artwork available as Notebooks. We went from 0 to 1000 notebooks in 2 days. By the end of a week we had over 2000 notebooks options and currently have 4500+ options available. We chose our stack keeping in mind a shorter development lifecycle and scalability. To ensure that Cupick is accessible at all times even during spikes in traffic, we’re on the cloud with AWS. Apart from that, we use 3rd party services for our search engine, managing multiple courier partners.
- What strategy do you follow for Customer Satisfaction & Expansion?
Our philosophy for customer service is built on the following:
- We’re easily accessible: live chat, email, phone, social media channels
- Everyone on the team is involved: there is no dedicated customer service team member, we all are representatives. Each of the founders along with our operations and content team members attend to emails, live chat and even phone calls.
- Personalization: you will not get canned (standard) responses from us. Each person writes in with a problem/requirement that is different. We take time to understand it and resolve
- Time-bound: A customer’s problem is always urgent. We try and sort things out in real time through our live chat or reply to emails within 2 hours.
- Going the extra mile: Great service involves 2 things. Being open to specific requirements and doing more than what was asked of you. We try at all times to go that extra mile.
Our focus on that superior experience has resulted in us becoming the go-to platform for artists. It has helped us grow and retain customers who keep coming back for our quality products.
- What, according to you, are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
The ability to visualize and then execute are 2 key skills to any task. Add perseverance to the mix and you have a formula that just works. Visit their website: https://cupick.com Like them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cupick