Founded in May 2012 in Delhi, by Bharat Sethi, PosterGully.com is a fast-growing online platform powered by hundreds of artists and designers. The company enables artists to easily upload and immediately offer their art for sale as posters, mobile cases, home décor, t-shirts and a variety of other high-quality products – without giving up the rights to their work. We chat with its founder.
An Excerpt from the Interview • What made you start your venture?
Starting up was an “itch” that I simply couldn’t shake. It made me twitch, lose sleep, and crave something that didn’t seem within my grasp 2 years back. But I desperately wanted to scratch it, even if I hesitated at that time. I knew it was one of those things that would just grow exponentially stronger with each passing day. That’s why I started up. My biggest takeaway was that there is no ‘right’ time to start a company. The longer it takes to build, the less likely it is to ever launch.
• What has been the key to your business’s success?
Although there are players in the merchandising market our approach and vision for the market is what makes us different. We’re talking about hundreds and thousands of artists globally contributing to making millions of products that are produced on a JIT model. Our serious competition that has been around for a long time, has at any given time about 400-500 designs and about 1000-1500 odd products at maximum.
We’re essentially talking about the deepest catalogue possible with unlimited SKU potential. Our strategy is to make it dead simple for artists and designers to quickly launch their artwork, interact with fellow artists, get feedback on their designs and also participate in design challenges. We also want to make them feel completely secure about whatever they’re sharing with us.
I think PosterGully has been successful due to a combination of different factors: • A community-based business model. • Strong organic, content and guerrilla marketing • High level of motivation. • Excellent value proposition. • Advisors and mentors from the very beginning. • Passionate and persistent stakeholders.
• What are the major challenges in your line of business and how did/do you overcome them?
I think the biggest challenge related to fund-raising is the government regulation which prevents FDI from flowing into online retail. Private labels (exclusively online) find it difficult to attract foreign investors’ interest because of govt. regulations.
Taking PosterGully to the next level every day has fortunately not been a challenge so far. Initially, the problem lay in low human capacity, finding the right mix of talent and grappling with a spurt in orders every month. Putting the systems in place starting from the best order management software to lubrication of the supply chain is still very important for us.
• Do you have a mentor who guides/advices you on matters of the business? We have been a part of the 2nd batch of GSF accelerator and raised some money from the angels who invest on behalf of GSF India. GSF has provided us with very valuable resources when it comes to mentorship. The constituent angels consist of the most successful & influential founders and investors of the entrepreneurial world globally.
And often they are just an email away for any possible help. Though we weren’t actively looking to raise funds till the beginning of this year, we’re now approaching investors who we believe can strategically help us achieve our goals. We’ve decided to try and raise venture capital now as we’re committed to expend a fair amount of our time in the process. Since the processes are all in place with the right mix of sourcing, operations and technical talent in the company, I feel we have a better hand at negotiating with the VCs and closing a deal.
• Have you benefitted from the use of any specific technology for your regular operations? We use technology and analytics platforms very extensively to measure the reach & efforts our team puts in digital marketing, category expansion, logistics, SEO among others. Talking about analytics, we’ve used these platforms over the last 2 years for data crunching & strategizing the course of our actions. 1. Google Analytics 2. Crazyegg 3. Mixpanel 4. Hootsuite 5. Clicky 6. Retention Grid 7. Commerce Sciences
• What strategy do you follow for Customer Satisfaction & Expansion? Everyone in our company believes that the customer is supreme. We have this quote by Mark Cuban put upright in the center of office which reads – ‘Treat your customers like they own you, because they do.’ Now, because of the fast-paced nature of online businesses, one area (often overlooked) in start-ups is providing absolute clarity in “what is success”.
We feel that all employees directly in touch with customers must be able to understand their goals and determine whether or not they are achieving these goals. The ultimate goal we work towards is customer happiness and everyone in the company (including myself) has made it a point to be close to the customers. Keeping our customer support staff happy by providing what they need in terms of soft skills training, positive messages & constructive feedback has really helped us in building a customer-centric behavior.
As cliche as it may sound, the key to motivation in our company is to keep things fresh & transparent. Jobs become monotonous after a time & we take this quite seriously. Tea breaks, downtime, fun activities, watching funny videos together and the occasional celebration makes sure that they stay engaged and feel card for. Our company reaches to a young and hipper audience between the age of 16-25 years.
We’ve done very little advertising till now & it’s all been driven by word of mouth. Users can’t help talking about the cool designs they see on the platform and the team’s mission is to find ways to amplify the buzz. The contributors (artists & designers) find it worthwhile to share their designs & earn a revenue share from the sale.
• What, according to you, are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
I’ve always believed that good entrepreneurs make money. Great entrepreneurs make serious money but remarkable entrepreneurs do more than making serious money. They affect our lives substantially. Top 3 attributes of remarkable entrepreneurs according to me would be: 1. They have a roll-up-your-sleeves-anytime mentality. 2. They relentlessly seek new opportunities & experiences. 3. They have a ‘Get Shit Done’ attitude. Visit their website: http://www.postergully.com Like them on Facebook: PosterGully