We got an opportunity to have a word with Anshul, the student entrepreneur and the founder behind this unique start-up idea, Fabence.com. Read on to find out how has the journey been for the young enterpriser.
A second year commerce student, Anshul Gupta has come up with the idea of de-cluttering the e-commerce market with his own initiative, Fabence.com even as his education pursuits are still going on.
With a creative and addictive design and formula, this hassle-free online shopping experience has come into picture considering the fact that one has to look for several sites and many options before choosing to buy one product online. Anshul worked upon this idea to formulate his brainchild, Fabence.com, where one can ‘shop with friends’ just like it happens in an offline shopping scenario.
The venture also provides for an in-built stylist who will guide you on your shopping spree 24X7, making you choose from clothing, accessories and other products according to your body type, complexion and preferences. If you like something, you can also suggest products to your friends at the click of an icon.
We got an opportunity to have a word with Anshul, the student entrepreneur and the founder behind this unique start-up idea. Read on to find out how has the journey been for the young enterpriser.
What is your academic qualification? What are your study plans for the future?
I am a second year student pursuing Bachelor of Commerce at the prestigious Shri Ram College of Commerce. In terms of study plans for the future, I might be doing an MBA.
How much profit do you earn on a monthly basis? What is the number of visitors you have per day on your website? Do you aim to target any specific target audience?
Launched on 15th August, Fabence.com is growing in excess of 70% MOM and the current run rate of 80k visits. So far we have focused on Direct and SEO based growth with a degree of activity on social media. More than 60% percent of the users go ahead to various sites and roughly 2% of them click through traffic making transactions. Fabence has partnered with all the major players in the market and is now in talks with various sites for further integration. Our target audience are people between the age-group of 18-30 looking to buy fashion products online and are unbiased towards any specific site.
Do you have any partner/co-founder and how many team members do you have? Are they all experienced or some are still fresh graduates?
While I am looking over strategy and operations at Fabence, Amit Gupta is the mentor here and has close to 25 years of corporate experience, having held top leadership positions (Managing Director, Partner, Global Head, etc.) in both national and international firms. He is credited with starting and establishing Churchill India and Royal Bank of Scotland IDC.
Snehil Khanor is a web entrepreneur since his school days, over eight years now. He is a B.Tech. in Computer Science and has previously worked in Letsbuy, looking over the product and technology. At Fabence, Snehil is acting as a Technology Advisor.
Swati Singh is also an experienced professional, having spent twenty years in various corporate roles. She has been involved in multiple start-ups and brings strong knowledge of social media and is currently handling Fabence’s presence on social media. Along with her is Aisha Khandelwal who is currently pursuing commerce at SRCC, New Delhi. She holds key leadership roles in various student bodies at SRCC and is looking over campus marketing for Fabence.
How did the idea of starting up an online shopping experience come to your mind and why did you think of calling the venture, Fabence.com?
The idea of Fabence came from a personal experience. I was looking to buy a buttoned down shirt! Though I spent a lot of time hopping from one site to the other, I still failed to find what I was looking for. Besides, during this discovery exercise, I found different user experiences with each site (some quite painful) and in some cases quite limiting. This experience triggered the idea of aggregating products from across various sites onto one platform and overlaying that with superior user functionality to deliver a unique user experience.
Very early on, I also realized that shopping journey is not just about finding the best product, but also how you find that product and what decision-making aid one can get to make a purchase decision. This led to us to deciding that our core focus would be personalization and intelligent discovery. The word ‘Fabence’ is actually a combination of ‘Fabulous’ and ‘experience’. Since we had some trademark issues with Yourcloset.in, I had to sit down with a dictionary and create a word that is a mix of two words to ensure that there is no trademark issue.
How have you raised funding for your start-up? Was it difficult to convince your family members on the idea of launching a start-up this early?
Fabence has successfully raised 60% of its initial funding requirements through placements with angel investors. It is expecting to raise the remainder in the month of Jan / Feb. Subjected to other considerations, Fabence may decide to go for a major round towards the later part of the year. The funds would mainly be used to grow the team, scale up technology and marketing. My family has been my biggest pillar of support and without them my dream of Fabence would never have come true.
What are the major problems that you have faced being a really young entrepreneur?
Being a young entrepreneur one of the first hurdles I faced was convincing myself to take the plunge and start! It was quite overwhelming, as a first time entrepreneur, I had no experience whatsoever! Second was, of course, putting together a team that shares the vision, believes in the idea and are competent enough to execute it!
Once these were overcome–execution was relatively easier (though not easy!). We had to overcome lack of interest/resistance from various online sites that were hesitant to commit to a new concept as mentioned earlier! Other challenges were more tech-related – as we were working on concepts which were new and difficult to implement, for example, constructing an intelligence-based technology platform! There were some mistakes made along the way but the team learned quickly, becoming more matured and experienced in the process! I feel if I am facing a new problem each day we are growing and constantly innovating.
Do you feel challenged by other big players or more experienced entrepreneurs and corporate leaders?
Not at all, the experienced entrepreneurs or the big players too started early, I feel it is all about how fast you can innovate and how your execution is. I feel having experienced entrepreneurs or big players in the market is a good thing as you can analyse what they are doing and learn from their mistakes. In the end it all boils down to how fast you are able to innovate and how well you execute ideas. However, I would suggest having an experienced mentor to work with who would provide a huge advantage as one would be able to avoid various mistakes that a first-time entrepreneur would make.
What were the first reactions of Myntra, Jabong and Flipkart when you had a word with them on tie-up?
Well, I still remember convincing myntra and Jabong were one of the hardest obstacles I had to face. I remember I went to Jabong’s office various times only to be asked to leave as being just a second year student; people would not take you very seriously. In the initial days I faced a lot of rejection, however gradually they were convinced as to how partnering with Fabence would help them.
What are the qualities you look for when employing someone as your team member? How do the people you work with describe you?
I think one of the most important qualities I look forward to, when it comes to employing someone is their belief in our vision and the problem we are trying to solve and if he or she would be able to fit in our culture. Experience, education, etc. comes secondary as if there is no belief in the vision the person would not give their best and that cannot work in a start-up. It is the will to achieve the vision that drives a company forward and that is what I look for. Well in terms of how people I work with describe me, you would have to ask them!!
What special attributes does your venture possess that you think stands out in the online shopping market scenario?
At the very basic level, Fabence allows users to discover fashion products from various sites (Flipkart, Myntra, Jabong) on one platform.
What differentiates us from the market is our approach of solving this problem which is to bring together technology and fashion and provide a much more technological and design intensive platform built on the pillars of innovation, intelligence and fashion. For us listing products from different sites is not enough and this has led us to focus on every detail of the product allowing us to improve user experience. This approach has allowed us to differentiate ourselves in various aspects in terms of search ability, user interface and ease of discovery.
Fabence has implemented technologies that allow us to have most detailed set of filters in the entire market and a category based quick search that neither ye bhi, roposo or violet street have. It allows users to do a free text search and get results of exactly what they are looking for without clicking anywhere; this not only eases the ability of a user to narrow down on a specific product but for those looking for window shopping it is a great experience too.
Not just discovery, Fabence aims at assisting a user in their shopping journey, allowing them to make a better buying decision and this has led to various firsts in the market such as an in-built fashion stylist, which is an intelligence-based algorithm that suggests products that would look good depending on a user’s attributes and product that they are thinking of buying in real time or hunt with friends that allows users to discover fashion products online in real time just like they do in a mall.
How did you manage to cope up with the technological know-how that this company required?
Since I am not from a technology background, having someone from a technology background was extremely vital. That is where Snehil comes in who is our technology consultant who looks over all the tech-related decisions. However after working on Fabence for over a year now I too know a thing or two about technology related to our company!
Why do you think the youth of India is lured towards the idea of a start-up these days?
If you look at the past 2 years the number of start-ups in India has risen significantly. Getting a good job has taken a backseat and starting something of your own is the new trend. I feel the youth is seeking much more than job security and a fixed salary. They feel solving a problem that would make the lives of millions of people is a much more satisfactory achievement and this is great for the economy.
Any feedbacks you have received from your website users? How do you handle negative feedback, if any?
I feel negative feedback is the best feedback as it allows you to further improve your product. A positive feedback would not push you to make further enhancements but negative feedback will make you think what is wrong with your product and how you could make it better. I welcome negative feedback as it helps me not only innovate but also realize what I did wrong so I do not repeat the mistake.
Being such a young entrepreneur, was it difficult to get your company registered with the Registrar of Companies? What were the legal roadblocks you had to face?
Well, not at all! We did not face any issues with registering the company. However, there were some trademark issues with the name. We had previously thought of the name Yourcloset.in and even purchased the domain but we realized that this name could cause trademark issues and hurt the brand in the future. We eventually settled on the name Fabence.com.
Do you regret that you started on early in life?
Not at all! I feel starting early is one of the best decisions of my life. Starting early allows me to take higher risks and innovate better. It allows me to look at a problem in a different and much more creative way. I would actually tell everyone to start as early as possible in life!
What are the most common problems that an Indian entrepreneur has to face?
Well I don’t believe that there are any specific problems an Indian entrepreneur has to face now as the ecosystem has evolved in the current scenario.
What is your message to those young people who have superb start-up ideas but do not have the courage to launch their own company?
Dream. Believe. Execute. These three words are what have guided my start-up journey. If you have a dream about solving a problem, you have to believe in it, and to make your dream come true, you have to execute your idea. Experience, capital, etc. are secondary but passion for you product is the fuel that would keep pushing, no matter the obstacles. I would want to tell all those young people to take the leap, no one knows if you are going to fail or succeed but if you have started up, you have already taken the first step to success. Starting up is like a roller-coaster ride without any seatbelt to protect you, so hold tight and enjoy the ride!