CraftMyGift creates unique gifts high on creativity and personalization. It is not simply a gift shop but works as a gift advisor to suggest and create gifts which are perfect for your special occasion. There is a strong undercurrent in the consultation part when the company works with clients to create personalized and customized gifts for various types of occasions. CraftMyGift was started in 2008 with a vision to make the art of gifting an enriching experience.
CraftMyGift creates gifts for individual occasions, corporate gifting as well as for events. CraftMyGift also works with corporate companies for creative branding ideas.
Jyoti Ramnath is the founder of CraftMyGift. While at the idea stage, CraftMyGift won the best business plan award at MPWE (IIM-B) in 2007. A first generation entrepreneur, Jyoti has been able to take CraftMyGift from a new experimental concept to a fully functional business. Jyoti has been featured in the book “Inspiring Women to Start Innovative Enterprises” by Sria Majumdar. Recently Jyoti was also selected as one of the 100 Most inspiring young entrepreneur fellow across Asia Pacific by FYSE (Foundation for Youth and Social Entrepreneurs). Jyoti is the only Indian who has been selected to attend a global leadership seminar called “Changing Faces Women Leadership” program in Aug 2010 to be held in Hawaii, USA. She is also an active volunteer of Headstart Network (www.headstart.in), a not-for-profit organization promoting innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem in India and conducts monthly events called “Startup Saturday” in Bangalore.
We had a telephonic interview with Jyoti:
Q1. Tell us how you thought about starting this venture.
The idea came to my mind because I personally used to give a lot of gifts to my close friends and relatives where I used to put a lot of thought into the gift. I always used to make sure that it is personalized and make sense to them. Then I realized that there are lots of people who want to do similar things but there is no one place where they could go and get the things done. Most of the products that are available in the market are either photo-gifts, such as a photo on a mug and that’s where it ends.
But when you really want to make it much-more meaningful; put more emotions; and say some more things, then nobody would sit with you and do such things. So that was more of trigger point to start this business. The idea was there in the mind and so I attended a program at IIM Bangalore, which is called the Management Program for Women Entrepreneurs and that program gave much base to the whole idea because during the program, I was supposed to create a business plan and present it in front of the judges. So, that’s where the idea took a little more formal shape and during the business plan competition, CraftMyGift got the first prize. So that became a good start for this idea.
Q2. Prior to starting this idea, you were into business or in a job?
Yea, I had been working with Hewlett Packard with the last 6 years. When I attended the program, I was still with HP. When I started the business, it was in a moonlighting phase, so I did continued my job with HP and I was juggling with my day-time job and in the evening I would come and work on my business. And later on, I took a plunge and took to the business full-time.
Q3. What were the requirements to launch this venture?
The main work of developing the website was outsourced, and of course getting the hosting and all that was done. But for maintaining the website, I did not really have any partner. Since I myself come from a technical background, I can handle the coding part of the site. So, I was able to manage it. This option was also taken to keep the costs low because I did not want to hire too many people in areas where they are not required every day. I did not partner with anyone but I am getting a lot of work done by this company in Mumbai. Their name is ResourceTech. They have been pretty good in developing lots of components of the website.
Q4. Who are your customers or targeted audience?
There are two divisions of the business. One is mainly for individuals for personal occasions, such as anniversary or a wedding. In the other division, we work with businesses in creating brand promotional gifts. In that, we do things in a very different way because if you brand-promotional gifts, they usually have a logo put on them; then there is a clock and a lot of Chinese (imported) products; or it is a mug with logo. That’s not what we do. We kind of take different perspective because we feel that if a business is giving brand promotional products, it should connect with their customers. So we go groups up and we conceptualize the gift idea from scratch. This means looking at what the business is; who are the people that would receive gifts, etc. We come with lots of creative ideas for brand promotion.
Q5. What is the scope of innovation in your business?
Well, I feel we are much more innovative than what is available. When they customized and personalized gifts, these words are very overused because it often ends with a photo on a product. But many times, you want to go beyond it. When you think of somebody every year and every year you look for something completely new. So, there are two areas where there is a huge scope, which we are also exploring. One is creativity in the concept of the gift, while the second is how much it is emotionally connecting. Understand the emotional connect, exploring that thing which makes the receiver say that â€œI am gonna treasure this for life-time. These are two areas, which are still unexplored but there is a huge scope in this area.
Q6. How you are tackling with the competition?
We tackle competition by creating gifts with a creative concept so people might not have seen that before. Like creating a story book for a birthday; and recently, we were creating a brand promotion gift creation for a hospital who wanted to give gifts to their patients. We created a first-aid kit that was in the form of a bandage and it read we are your band-aid. Inside it, there were lots of goodies that were really helpful for the patients. So, things like these are our USP and help us compete with other competitors.
Q7. Do you also suggest your clients about the price range of the gifts?
We usually focus on the conceptual part of the gift. The price range is often suggested by the customers because they have their own limitations of the budget. Sometimes, we do modify the concept so as to lower the costs to make it fit in the budget of the customers.
Q8. Do you cater to the customers in India or you serve clients abroad also?
Right now, we have clients all over India but we do have plans to serve clients outside India also. That’s at a very initial stage right now but probably in two years we do have plans to implement it.
Q9. I noticed that you don’t have an online payment gateway on your website?
Oh, yea. We are just integrating it shortly, as it is still under development.
Q10. How you feel you grew as a entrepreneur from and employee?
Personally, I learned a lot of things as I don’t come from a business family. Initially, because if you came from a corporate background, working with HP, you tend to be very specific and strategic about doing things with high quality. These companies teach to do all this. The main skills of selling and actually understanding the market, how to deal with the customer, how to drive your product, are qualities that are unknown to you. So, these are the areas of business, which I learned completely after I started the business. For me, the growth happened in terms of understanding the market; getting the whole sense of understanding the market and selling. That’s something I really I learned as an entrepreneur. I talk to lots of people; I connect to lots of people from different business backgrounds; and it’s been quite a learning experience. My whole personal network has really grown because I am very active in groups like Head Start. I do stay connected with these entrepreneurial groups. It’s been quite enriching experience and I am really enjoying the journey.
Q11. Was there any incident which you can term as a set-back but you still learned a lot from it?
There have been multiple times where the business had not been going well at all. Sometimes, almost a thought crosses your mind that should I shut it off because it’s not working. So, there has been multiple times; we started off with a business model or business strategy, which didn’t work, where revenue had been down to zero. These were some very critical points. But somewhere the passion was there, and somewhere I did believe in the concept and that kept me going.