As the Indian economy grows and individuals and companies thrive, luxury products and services have become a lucrative, growing market. Founded by Manisha Rao, TheLuxeCafé.com is India’s leading online luxury lifestyle magazine with curated content on fashion & decor, travel & leisure, motoring & gadgets, personas & ideas for connoisseurs of fine living. We chat with Manisha about the venture. An Excerpt from the Interview:
- What made you start your venture?
As a luxury journalist and later working as a luxury expert and consultant with Avantgarde India, I realized the need for a digital platform that would bring luxury brands closer to connoisseurs and those who aspired to buy luxe products. The luxury market in India is expanding across product and service categories so it was the right time to launch a product that is web and mobile friendly and would become go-to guide for luxury consumers. That’s how The Luxe Cafe was born.
- What has been the key to your business’s success?
A great emphasis on producing quality content that will inspire readers has been a key to The Luxe Cafe’s success among brands and consumers alike. In a space where content till now is restricted to user generated blogs, we have got the top experts and luxury connoisseurs to talk to our users directly by the way of video documentaries that are powerful, beautiful and well shot. Designed to be a virtual cafe, The Luxe Cafe is the one-stop hangout for luxury brands and consumers. Our endeavor is to shatter the traditional notions associated with luxury and reinterpret them for the truly passionate.
- What are the major challenges in your line of business and how did/do you overcome
Luxury market is still in its nascent stage in India but digital media though is growing, but its traditional media that still rules. Therefore it was a challenge to start a luxury digital platform. Also technology is fast evolving and it was difficult to get the right technology. But with a focus on aesthetics The Luxe Cafe was launched as a beautifully designed website that is reader friendly. By getting the right web development team on board which understands the purpose of The Luxe Cafe, this problem was solved.
- Do you have a mentor who guides/advices you on matters of the business?
There are a few friends I often turn to for advice. In fact, whenever I have to take a very critical decision, I throw the idea to 5-6 of my close confidantes, each belonging to different spheres, and look forward to the contradictory points of views. I go through their respective reasonings, and subsequently take a well-informed decision
- Have you benefitted from the use of any specific technology for your regular operations?
We do not simply attempt to push the boundaries of technology – instead we seek to harness technological improvements to expand the boundaries of business. The Luxe Cafe is not the creation of a few technology innovations or a couple of whiz kids. We have developed an ecosystem that features people and businesses having everything to do with various facets of luxury and fine living.
- What strategy do you follow for Customer Satisfaction & Expansion?
At present, we do not have any interface with customers as we are not selling on The Luxe Cafe platform. Having said that, we do not rule out the possibility of expanding into an e-commerce model on the same platform, as that is a natural progression. At The Luxe Cafe, we believe that only by creating an open, collaborative and prosperous ecosystem that enables its constituents to fully participate can we truly help our small business and consumer customers. We can only be successful if our customers and business partners are successful. As far as expansion plans are concerned, we will not take decisions in a jiffy. Expanding too quickly can cause serious growing pains. From adding employees and office space to increasing production, expanding services or extending product lines, doing too much too soon can have devastating consequences. Every stage of growth takes a bit of good faith, but there are some reliable indicators that your startup may in fact be ready to scale, such as ready availability of cash, customer confidence and achievement of set milestones, among others.
- What, according to you, are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Being a good Learner is something to begin with. As an entrepreneur you need to be a quick learner. You have to be willing to learn new skills constantly. I have a practice of setting aside the first hour of every work day to read about the current things happening in his industry. I realise that I don’t know everything and the market is constantly changing. I need to stay up to date on new systems, technology, and industry trends. Ability to sell effectively will also stand you in good stead. This is one of the most important qualities an entrepreneur can have. As an entrepreneur you are selling a lot. You will have to sell your ideas to customers, investors and potential employees. You sell your skills to the same audience. Every entrepreneur is a sales person whether they want to be or not. They are either selling their ideas, products or services to customers, investors or employees. They work to be there when customers are ready to buy. Alternately, they know how to let go and move on when they are not. Self-reflection is very required. One should allow downtime to reflect on the past and plan for the future. Always working leads to early burnout, physically and emotionally. After long hours of work or days/months of toiling one needs a break to sit back, reflect, introspect, analyse and accordingly set future agendas. Visit their Website: http://www.theluxecafe.com/ Like them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theluxecafe