Qtrove also seeks to empower local entrepreneurs who are producing exotic/unique products in their vicinity and give them a widespread national platform.
Vinamra Pandiya, CEO & Founder, Qtrove.com, is a Chemical Engineer & Software Coder by chance and Entrepreneur by choice. He holds a Bachelor of Engineering (B.E) degree from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, Varanasi and joined Infosys in 2004. After a couple of years with the software giant, Vinamra started India's first online meal ordering service, Mom’s Kitchen in the 2006. Post a successful 3 year journey with Mom’s Kitchen, Vinamra joined Tasty Khana in the year 2009 as board member and Chief Operating Officer; and scaled the start up to new heights. Currently, he is an advisor to a couple of start-ups like SweetsInABox and SpiderG where he mentors and advises the teams and helps in strategy, business development, and expansion.
Replying to Anil Mascarenhas of IIFL, Vinamra Pandiya says, “Our USP is our curated products from handpicked vendors across categories. We like to call it Alternative or Sustainable commerce. We want to expand our seller base in top 10 cities by FY 2016-17 and reach a number of 1000 sellers and 20,000 products by March 2017.”
How did the idea about Qtrove came to your mind?
Qtrove stands for the Curated (Q) trove. The central idea to start Qtrove was to break the clutter in e-commerce and bring the focus back on unique and curated products. With most big companies offering unrealistic discounts and displaying the same mass produced products (read brands) to its customers, we feel, shopping is now reduced to a mere chore. Qtrove aims to be a curated marketplace that exhibits & sells non-mass produced items from small entrepreneurs across the country. These products are unique in nature and are not easily available across the online spectrum. We seek to empower local entrepreneurs who are producing exotic/unique products in their vicinity and give them a widespread national platform. In today’s era of assembly line mass production & consumption, we wish to release our customers from the tyranny of choice and add fun back to the shopping experience. We have also adopted a seller first approach to give our vendors a wider reach as well as share their stories through dedicated vendor pages on our website and social media. We want to make customers for life and not based on some discount fad and hence this slow but sure approach. We are traditional businessmen at heart and believe each business should be started with the core focus of creating value for all the concerned stakeholders (employees, investors, customers and sellers) and this philosophy is the underlying theme behind Qtrove
What has been the inspiration behind launching Qtrove?
Qtrove was started with a mission to empower local entrepreneurs who are producing unique products in their vicinity. It aims to be a curated marketplace that exhibits & sells from small entrepreneurs across the country as well as share their stories through dedicated vendor pages across social media. In today’s era of assembly line mass production & consumption, Qtrove comes as a breath of fresh air by curating the best products from handpicked vendors across categories. From fresh bakery goods to hand made soaps, Qtrove brings only the choosiest products for its customers.
Who is your target audience?
Our target audience are people who like to experiment a lot and come back purely on the strength of the product or service. At Qtrove, our mission is to connect such informed buyers with awesome sellers who are quietly building some unique non-mass produced items. We believe we are at an early stage and this market space will break out in the coming 2-3 years. We have a small team of 6 people plus photographers and stylists as consultants.
What is the USP of Qtrove? How is it different from other e-commerce start-ups in the country?
Our USP is our curated products from handpicked vendors across categories. We like to call it Alternative or Sustainable commerce. We have products which are sustainable, are non-mass produced and have what we call as the ‘Q Factor’. These are products which customers would love to own and we don’t have to entice them by unsustainable discounts. We want to build ‘Etsy of India’ with an Indian twist.
Another USP is the way we showcase our products on the website where we conduct a professional shoot unlike other players who typically use a white background. This ensures that customers get a better visual of the product thus get a better understanding and expectation of the product they wish to order. End of the day all that matters is the value we add to our customers’ life by the products we sell to them and at Qtrove we aim appeal to the inner connoisseur, with products that are sustainable in nature and have individuality and personality.
We have also created a Lead Research Guideline doc which contains several parameters and we rate each vendor on those parameters. Only when they cross a threshold, are they selected for Inside Sales team to call. Each parameter is based on how unique or exclusive the vendor and its products are, shouldn’t be easily available online etc. This quality check is important because we want to ensure we sell unique products from handpicked vendors. Quality would be embedded in our culture fabric as we scale up. Needless to say, we are a managed marketplace where we keep a tight control over the kind of sellers we onboard.
What do you feel about the current start-up ecosystem in India? Where is it heading to?
After the bloodbath and funding fever that peaked in 2015, 2016 was truly a humbling experience for all of us. I always believe great companies are built during downturns. Although I won’t call 2016 a downturn, but certainly a massive correction and a self-reflecting year. Businesses are for making profits and every startup guy should understand this. Whatever be the times, this fundamental truth won’t change. We hope that by second quarter of 2017, investment climate (read VC money) and purse strings should open up and when it happens, we want Qtrove to be at an advantageous position with its increasing topline and robust bottomline.
What are your immediate plans to expand and grow?
We want to expand our seller base in top 10 cities by FY 2016-17 and reach a number of 1000 sellers and 20,000 products by March 2017.