An Excerpt from the Interview:
What made you start your venture?
During our college days, I always used to search for cool t-shirts to wear. But sadly I could not find quality stuff in India from design perspective. In India, the designs on the t-shirts are too mainstream. Also, it is impossible to find t-shirts related to niche areas like TV series, movies, music etc. Pop culture is gaining lot of steam in India.
So, we decided to start our own brand of t-shirts which will have a coolness factor associated with it and is mainly targeted towards youth. So, we went ahead and started LazyNinja while still in college.
We were studying and also running LazyNinja side by side. Our hostel rooms became our warehouse and it was filled with boxes and boxes of t-shirts. Our college lab became our office. We ran LazyNinja from college hostel for sometime. Then, when the time came for MBA placements, it was a tough decision but we decided to opt out of Symbiosis MBA placements and continue LazyNinja full time.
What has been the key to your business’s success?
LazyNinja’s success so far has been due to our unique designs in Indian market. We made something which was not easily available in Indian market and was in huge demand. The second thing was our customer service. No business becomes great because of their product, their service really matters. In today’s world, there is cut throat competition and whatever you do, people will start copying you.
Same thing happened with LazyNinja. After we started, many other companies started on the similar concept. The only way to win the race is to stay in the race. So no matter how many difficulties or hurdles you face, just keep going. Sometimes business may get slow, you may feel down but the key to winning is just keep going and Never to give up.
What are the major challenges in your line of business and how did/do you overcome them?
If your business is based on a product, the biggest challenge you will face is finding a good vendor or manufacturer for your product. Setting up the supply chain and quality product is the most difficult challenge we faced as it involved lot of external parties. There is t-shirts manufacturer, printer, packing material vendor, Courier Company etc.
You have to manage each and every party and if any one of the party does not do his work properly, the entire chain of business gets affected. We have worked really hard to set up a good supply chain. We burned our hands and money with many vendors.
After lot of struggle and trial and error, now we have fairly good supply chain set up for LazyNinja where we monitor round the clock to ensure the best quality reaches to the customers.
Do you have a mentor who guides/advices you on matters of the business?
From the days of college, we have been doing everything on our own. None of us had experience or background in business. We were so passionate about doing something of our own that we jumped into it without thinking about anything and as we kept moving forward, we kept learning. We made mistakes, we learned from it and we kept moving forward. Right now Internet is our best mentor and guide.
Have you benefited from the use of any specific technology for your regular operations?
Yes. Setting up a good ecommerce site is very important for any business. Building everything from scratch can be very time consuming and costly so we made use of OpenCart platform for building our website.
It gives you all the basic features of an ecommerce business and later you can build on it according to your requirements. Facebook and Twitter has helped us a lot in marketing our t-shirts to the masses. If marketed properly, social media can be very useful.
What strategy do you follow for Customer Satisfaction & Expansion?
At LazyNinja, we put customer service on top of our priority list. We are least bothered about profits and money right now. The only thing we want is when someone purchases any t-shirt from our website, they should get a WOW experience. That is why we never put any conditions on returns or replacements. If someone wants a replacement of t-shirt or size we provide them instantly without putting any conditions.
What, according to you, are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
The most successful entrepreneurs are the ones who believe in doing rather than thinking. You might have a world class idea but if you do not act on it, it is of no use. So, instead of wasting time in planning or making business plans, just jump into it and learn as you progress. Experience is the best teacher and mentor. I think three important entrepreneurial skills are:
Passion – You should be very very passionate about your idea and business. Day and night you should think about how you can grow your business. You should eat, breathe and sleep your business
Take Risks – You can never plan on paper regarding your future. You have to experiment and take risks. If you continue doing what you have always done, you will continue getting what you always had. So you should be able to take risks and experiments.
Never Give Up – Most businesses do not succeed because they give up half way. If you are really passionate about something you will find ways to make it work otherwise you will find excuses why it cannot work.