Each day we engage in a series of struggles that begin the second the alarm goes off in the morning. But let’s be honest, many of us just shut the alarm and put it on snooze! How about getting a clock that runs around, ensuring that you get out of bed to run after it and actually wake up? You can find this, and many other quirky useful items at Flintstop.
This online store sells everyday products and gifting items that are different than the usual in terms of technology and design. IndiBeat decided to catch up with founder Tejas Jhaveri and learn more about the brand, his fascination with technology, e-commerce in India and more.
IB: How did you come up with the idea of Flintstop?
TJ: I had always been exploring international e-commerce websites to find some unique and fascinating products. I would make at least three purchases a month! Sadly, these products were not easily available in India. That’s when I realised there is a gap that needed to be bridged for the Indian market.
I then made a list of international trade shows to visit in order to meet different manufacturers to curate some quirky products. Following my passion, I finally knew what I wanted to do and that was the inception of Flintstop.
IB: How has your journey been so far?
TJ: The journey has been bumpy, with a lot of ups and downs, just like any other startup. I got my first order within just three days of listing the products online. That really boosted my confidence. When we started off with eight products, we were more tech oriented. However today, we have 480 products across various categories like Home & Kitchen, Tech, 3D Printing, Stationery, Travel & Photography and Bar. Flintstop has grown from just an idea to a full-fledged business!
IB: What are some of the challenges you faced as a startup?
TJ: For the first three months I was alone managing everything from procurements to uploading products, processing orders, packing products, deliveries as well as marketing! So there were a lot of issues. I kickstarted with an exhibition in Hong Kong, so language was a definite barrier while negotiating. Getting the product from China to India was also a challenge. At times, I even had to pay extra duties.
Quite a few online customers would buy products for an event and then return it, conveniently mentioning: “No longer needed / Product not as described”. We had to fight with the Seller Protection Funds to at least get the shipping costs back.
Marketing was another challenge as we started on a tight budget. We ran contests and offered freebies to build the early traction. We also participated in exhibitions, put up stalls in colleges, distributed products to influencers and bloggers for a shoutout. Finally, we managed to get a few free features in newspapers and magazines.
IB: How does Flintstop manage to stand out from its competitors?
TJ: Flintstop was started with the sole aim of making your life a tad bit easier whilst adding some fun and colour to your day. We try to offer multiple variations of the same product. Every customer receives a handwritten post-it along with Phantom mint cigarettes (which aren’t available in retail stores anymore) and a free portable mobile fan to make their experience a memorable one while adding a personal touch!
IB: You also intend to build an Innovation Centre, tell us more.
TJ: I often come up with product ideas, while lacking the skills to build them. The idea usually just remains an idea. The innovation centre is for all such people. It has in-house industrial designers and engineers who validate your idea and help you prototype it.
Flintstop then helps you mass manufacture and then sell the product. The vision is to be in history by inventing a line of products which don’t exist. We look out for problems and come up with products that solve those problems.
IB: What are your views on the growing e-commerce scene in India?
TJ: Everything sells online because of the reach and price competitiveness. You can start an e-commerce company with almost no budget, inventory or employees. Dropshipping is changing the game of e-commerce. Most of the top e-commerce companies today are burning way more than they can afford to just to make a mark in the industry, but in the long term, this cannot be workable.
IB: A piece of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
TJ: Speaking by experience, I would advise beginners to be extremely mindful of the budget–don’t burn more than you can afford. Don’t go overboard from day one itself and scale your business as it grows. You cannot always be the best person to do a task. So delegate the work smartly and make sure to keep your team happy.
Make sure you know your accounts in and out. For me, accounts was a major issue initially. I never kept a track of what expenditure I had against each invoice and hence couldn’t forecast how profitable our company was. After a year of negligence, we finally hired two accountants without whom our business would have fallen apart!
Lastly, take every failure as a blessing in disguise, because what a failure can teach you, no amount of success ever will.
Follow Flintstop on Facebook here.
Image Credit: Flintstop