VelvetCase: Journey Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow
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VelvetCase: Journey Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

In today’s dynamic retail world, numerous big daddy brands are competing in a stiff competition to win the ultimate price in the form of gaining loyal clients and profit. In support with the ‘Start-up India’ initiative, new names are emerging on the retail facade. Apart from many retail products, jewellery manages to captivate customer’s senses. This is so obvious, as no one likes to grace any event without wearing jewels.

Taking the baton to a new level, VelvetCase is going all guns blazing to usher its way to the top. Velvetcase is a one stop site for all jewellery lovers, displaying various cuts and shades of jewels. What makes this up shining brand stand out is their business concept. Indian retailer gets candid with Mr. Kapil Hetamsaria, CEO and Founder to know about the journey that the brand plans to undertake.

Please tell us about your background and whether entrepreneurship was something you always wanted to do?
A typical academic background of any decently smart kid in India is where I began. I completed my engineering from VJTI, Mumbai which was among the premier institutions in the field of engineering with a 100+ year legacy when I started in the mid 1990s. While in engineering, I spent a full year learning how to cut and polish diamonds only because my mother wanted to get into the fine jewelry business.
Post that, I spent 10 years in the US including a 2 yr MBA at The University of Chicago Graduate School of Business – Chicago Booth, as it’s now called. After spending few years with global companies like McKinsey & Co., Microsoft, Dell, etc. I returned to India in early 2011 to create a new business unit for Microsoft.

How did the idea of start-up tickle your mind? What is the area you specialise in?
Along with my co-founder, Runit Shah, I started Velvetcase in 2012 and went live with the first version of our product in Nov 2012. The idea of incepting was to “give customers what they really want” – not what jewelers carry in their stock. Velvetcase follows a “mass customization” model, wherein each customer is treated as an individual and is given what they really want.

What is your business model? Please share number of founders, product/services offered and current business size.
Since the start of VelvetCase in 2012, we have had a unique and different approach to the business – we follow a ‘consumer back’ rather than the traditional ‘product forward’ model. The ability to give a single consumer the kind of relevant design breadth that they deserve, right from the comfort of their home is what sets us apart. The aspiration is to offer maximum choice to a consumer in terms of variety, visual appeal and overall experience. We provide the following:
a. Augmented reality – Using cutting edge technology and high quality imaging, we enable a user to see how a design would look on a customer. Example – a customer likes a ring, they can take a picture of their hand and augment the ring on a finger of their choice to get a real sense of the design.
b. Video with each product – Velvetcase is one of the few brands to provide a video for every product that we carry, so a consumer knows exactly how it will look when made
c. Custom design – Where a customer can send us a design of their choice. Our design team works with the customer to understand their needs, budget, occasion, etc. and provide advice on what might work best for them. Velvetcase then manufactures the piece and delivers it to the customer 100% certified with complete transparency
d. Maximum design variety in terms of gold, diamonds, silver, gem stones, uncut diamonds, etc.
e. Global shipping – We have already delivered to consumers in US, UK and Singapore
f. Multi-lingual and multi-currency capabilities – our platform enables a user to view our content in Hindi as well as English and prices in INR and USD. Over time we will offer this in several regional languages in India as well as select global languages and currencies.

Have you risen any funding so far? What are your plans to use this funding for?
We have raised USD 1 mn from Chennai Angels and other prominent angels in the year 2014 including Anupam Mittal (Founder,;  Jacob Kurien (ex-COO, Tanishq); Jerry Rao and Arihant Patni.

What was it that attracted the investors to your business? Have you had to pivot your business in anyways that has worked for you?
I think the quality of our team and what each of us believes in, has played a huge role. Everyone recognizes how important it is to have a good team in place for any business to be successful.  Additionally, its a huge market. At $45B and only growing, it’s an attractive space for investors especially when everyone is on the look-out for disruptive approaches like we have used - leveraging technology to rapidly create the country’s largest marketplace.

What has been your A-ha Moment in the business?
It’s hard to pick one. There have been several moments to rejoice throughout this journey. If one has to be picked, then it has to be when we received and delivered a single order of 1.42 crore. It was unbelievable! Customers pleasantly surprise us every single day. It’s also a validation of the kind of trust we garner. Another extremely memorable moment is Serena Williams, world’s number one tennis player, winning all her 2015 grand slams wearing VelvetCase earrings. Lucky charm, eh?

How do you observe your growth in this business? What are your future scale-up plans?
Over the next 5 years, we hope to be at a $100+ USD Million (Rs. 500 Crore plus) revenue landmark, making Velvetcase India’s first global luxury brand. Similar to how Dell revolutionized the PC industry and Amazon created an e-commerce market, we will create a model for consumers to enjoy the jewellery they buy.
Over this time, we want to specialize in high quality craftsmanship with transparent policies. We want to create fine jewellery an asset class similar to real estate and the equity markets that people invest in for their future. The only advantage with jewellery is that people can enjoy wearing the same while their assets continue to appreciate.

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