Parikshit Borkotoky and Pramathesh Borkotoky (MBA from Amity Business School and MCA from Jorhat Engineering College respectively) are the brains and sweat behind the creation of Kraftinn. Their sole mission lies in promoting products that are designed and manufactured by keeping the wellness of the planet in mind. Kraftinn endeavours in making the transition from timber-dependent products to high quality bamboo, Meteke (Water hyacinth in Assamese) and Tule (Hard stems that grow in wetlands) furnishings and utility items. Parikshit and Pramathesh took time off their business operations to tell us about their venture, its challenges and what keeps them going What made you start Kraftinn? Kraftinn is a slight twist of two words – ‘craft’ that symbolizes our desire to design unique products and harness the skills of artisans who have evolved over generations and ‘inn’ where people passing by, can experience a little bit of the local culture. We envision www.kraftinn.com as a place where people can get a little bit of the unique north-east culture and take it back to their homes as tangible artefacts like lamps and bags. We never planned to be entrepreneurs, it happened by chance. In the late 2009, when the world economy was facing a slowdown, the company I was working with had to shut down. At that point of time I had two alternatives, either to look out for a new job or grab this opportunity to start something on my own. I chose the second one, and made entrepreneurship as a career choice. When I came to North-east (which is our native place), I teamed up with Pramathesh who too wanted to start his own venture. We clubbed our ideas and Kraftinn was born on June 2010. We chose bamboo and water hyacinth because of its severe characteristics and its availability in Assam. Bamboo home décor has great demand and we wanted to tap this opportunity as this market is still largely unorganized, very niche and untapped. Besides this, we wanted to start something that would not onlyaddress environmental/social concerns by using eco-friendly products, but alsogive sustainable income to the artisansand revive the dying crafts of North-east India.
What is your business model? What are your products/services? For sustainability, we needed to command large addressable markets. The internet and social media seems to be the greatest ‘go-to-market’ driver for us. Think globally and act locally is the mantra we follow at our work. Internet is a great leveller and an extremely challenging environment but equally rewarding because it provides a level playing field. Kraftinn is more focused on buyers who are planned purchasers rather than impulse purchasers. We want to drive organic referrals and organic loyalty via excellent customer experiences. And for all these, our social presence on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc gives us the necessary branding and marketing platforms. Having said this, traditional offline business models cannot be ignored, specifically in India. And since online buying is still at its nascent stage here, we worked on a hybrid business model thereby having a showroom cum factory outlet at Jorhat, Assam. What are the major challenges in your line of business and how did/do you overcome them? The major challenges we are currently facing is managing the logistic cost. Customers want the best products at the least prices. And the goods are very delicate and hence require many layers of packing material to ensure maximum safety. The products are voluminous and logistics costs are very expensive. If that was not enough, some customers want to receive the purchased products immediately after transaction. Having said that, the customer experience cannot be compromised regardless of issues we cannot control. We de-risked the delivery items across multiple courier services. We make replacements in case of any complaints without asking any justification from the customers. What has been the key to your business’s success? We have a team of highly qualified technologists, skilled artisans and a strong operations team. Our commitment is quality products which are great on designs too. We also keep ourselves updated with the latest trends, ask for regular feedback from our customers and work on products that are ideal for their homes. Have you benefitted from the use of any specific technology for your regular operations? Our primary sales channel is online. So, we are totally dependent on web technology. What strategy do you follow for Customer Satisfaction? Customer Satisfaction is uppermost priority at Kraftinn. When an order is placed, a call is being made to the customer for confirmation and understanding of his exact requirements. We sometimes give the customer a choice to customise the products as per his/her needs if customisation can be done. As mentioned, we rely mostly on word of mouth publicity and repeat business. What, according to you, are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur? This is a very tough business but the benefits of building it are enormous. • Patience: You need to very patient. Don’t try to fix things by shortcuts. • Informative: You need to look at the business analytically and be informative of the latest trends. • Creative: Building the right product and marketing it well are the key factors. You should have the ability to create a new product and market it well so that it gets widely accepted.