Often, you wouldn’t know what to expect from an online store that says ‘wacky online shopping experience’. True to its promise, quirky gift makers Flintstop are selling something wacky, creative and something that solves your day-to-day problems. Whether a burger-shaped notepad or a paper weight that looks like a ‘samosa’, there’s something quirky for all and the B2B segment has huge potential for quirky gifting says Flintstop founder Tejas Jhaveri.
What was the idea behind Flintstop’s concept? Tell us about your brand journey so far.
When I was figuring out what I wanted to pursue as a profession after college, acting on my father’s suggestion, I visited the trade fair in Hong Kong and that was my first step towards entrepreneurship.Since my interest was always in fun, creative and tech stuff, the immense number of ‘quirky’ products at the exhibition made me realize these products were not found in India and could be easily sold, if marketed well. In 2014, I started Flintstop as a one-man brand, where I ordered products in bulk from China, packaged it, sold at slightly higher margins and even delivered the product myself. Delivering products was the best part of the job as I got a chance to talk to people and understand their needs. With the aim of selling problem solving products, the brand was launched.
The trade fair at Hong Kong serves global customers and the options are countless. How did you choose the right products for Indian customers?
My priority was to look for out-of-the box products that were not just fancy but were problem-solving and were really unique in their availability. I started with 20 unique products that had novelty and stuff like 3D pens or fans with in-built message holders or even magnetic stick out notes were things buyers could not find easily, which became an instant hit. I curated these products on how they addressed a problem and chose as per the needs of a consumer.
But quirky gifting portals are aplenty on ecommerce marketplace. How do you stand out as a brand?
Apart from curating product designs, we invite design ideas and suggestions from our customers. We get around 30 ideas every day and our in-house designers try to bring these ideas to life. For instance, we have paper weight in the shape of vada-pav and cutting chai and these are our hotsellers right now. So, apart from addressing what people need, we also get an idea of what people want and build whatever is workable. We attribute the designs to the customer who pitched the idea. This way, our product category is huge and the options are more.
How do you think is the market for quirky gifts in India?
The online marketplace is an open market and even distributors from China or any other country can sell to Indian customers. The market has evolved and more consumers are open to now buying and gifting quirky products. Another interesting trend in the last couple of years is how the B2B market for quirky gifting has evolved in India. Earlier, corporate gifting was limited to mugs, notepads or pens. Now, they too want to give some fun products and the market for quirky gifts is huge!
What are the product categories that are most popular for Flintstop?
About 65 per cent of our revenue comes from electronic products in ecommerce marketplace followed by stationery and toys and others. While on our website, home and kitchenware products have high demand.
Talking about an open market, what are the challenges to scale for a startup?
For now, the business is booming and there’s huge demand for our products but we are not able to keep the cash flow rolling. Since we are bootstrapped, we feel that this model may get tough for us as we grow. Payments happen much later but we should pay the manufacturers first and accumulating that much cash is a huge challenge.
How have you scaled? Are you looking to raise funds?
We started with 20 product categories; now have 2,800 products in B2B segment and 900 products in B2C segment. While we sell 10,000 products in B2C, we sell more than 20,000 products in B2B segment alone. And to scale, we need more funds and we talking to investors to raise funds.
What are your expansion plans and targets?
We want to white label our products in the next two months and later retail our products at kiosks in malls. By April next year, we want to build an innovation centre where we can collect data, invite people who have interest in quirky designs to share their ideas, hire in-house designers, make prototype and crowdfund these projects. Works have started in this regard and we want to escalate it further.