Before founding Craftsvilla.com, Manoj was Principal at Nexus Venture Partners which is one of the leading venture capital funds in India with a fund size of $320 million. While at Nexus, Manoj was board member of Bigshoebazaar India (which owns Yebhi.com), Deccan Healthcare, Sohanlal Commodity Management and was board observer of Snapdeal.com.
Manoj is very active in Internet, Technology, Wellness and Agri/Rural ecosystem in India and has been involved in grooming highly scalable businesses in these sectors. Prior to Nexus, he co-founded a semiconductor technology company, WIT, in US which was later acquired by Chrontel.
Manoj has an MBA from IIM, Ahmedabad, B.Tech from IIT Bombay, MS from University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and CPhil from University of California, San Diego. He has has filed several patents in the US.
We had an email interview with Manoj about his venture Craftsvilla.com.
Q1. Tell us how you thought about starting this venture.
I was on the board of one of the best ecommerce companies of India like Yebhi.com while I was working at Nexus Venture Partners. So I was witnessing how ecommerce landscape was changing. My wife Monica was active in the handicrafts sector. She used to bring lot of colorful and unique products. I quickly realized that there are millions of products in India which are unique and not being discovered. Hence I started Craftsvilla.com which today is the largest marketplace for handcrafted and handmade products in India. We provide a marketplace platform for handicraft sellers to sell their products online and connect them directly with customers.
Q2. From where you source your products?
We source products from across the India but mostly concentrated in Gujarat and Rajasthan right now.
Q3. Who are your customers or targeted audience?
The customer target segment is 18-45 years female living in Metros and Tier-1 town.
Q4. What is the scope of innovation in your business?
There is lot of scope for innovation as marketplace model would only work if there are right processes, right business model and right legal and accounting structures.
Q5. How you are tackling with the competition?
Luckily, there is not lof of competition right now in India. We see competition from players like ETSY which are big in US as we expand our markets to US and UK customers.
Q6. Do you cater to the customers in India or you serve clients abroad also?
We sell to both Indians in India and NRIs outside of India in US and UK.
Q7. How you feel you grew as a entrepreneur from an employee?
I was always an entrepreneur having started my tech startup in USA. Then I joined Nexus Venture Partners, a $320 million fund based in Mumbai. There again I was involved in mulitple startups. Entrepreneurship is a journey which is hard to leave if someone has experienced it once.
Q8. Was there any incident which you can term as a set-back but you still learned a lot from it?
We had lot of setbacks initially where we were working from our home. I cannot recall any one big setback but entrerpreneurship is a journey of encountering small small problems and correcting them very fast.
Q9. How much is the scope of expansion for your venture?
The handmade, handcrafted and ethnic products have more than $20 billion market in India and more than $100 billion market globally. This is a huge market and has lot of scope of expansion in India and abroad.
Q10. Give a message to our readers and budding entrepreneurs from your own experience.
I would say that India is a land of opportunity right now where there are umpteen number of business models, categories and customer segments to target. This is the best time to be an entrepreneur in India.