beenthere.in

We got a great article on Beenthere in Bangalore Mirror on 6th Apr'15 !!

http://www.bangaloremirror.com/columns/work/Tripping-on-mementos/articleshow/46815244.cms

Mon, Apr 06, 2015

Tripping on mementos

Tripping on mementos
No more tacky souvenirs. This company aims to create stylish memories and keepsakes of your tours and travels


If you visit the Bull Temple in Basavangudi as a tourist, do you know where you can buy a t-shirt or a mug with its print on it? As someone who loves buying souvenirs from the places she travels to, Kavita Singh had this in her mind when preparing for a project at the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, where she was doing a mid-career MBA course. Singh, a National Institute of Fashion Technology alumnus, had worked in the retail industry for a decade before she took a study break. She found the idea of a museum shop enticing enough to pitch it as a business idea to her professor, along with three other batchmates. "When you travel abroad, especially in Europe, you can go around a palace and then end up at the souvenir shop to buy merchandise," she says.
In 2011, when she was passing out of ISB, she decided to pitch the idea again for an incubator programme at ISB and forgo placements and the chance to re-enter corporate life, if idea got selected.


The Great Idea
Since the idea was hothoused in ISB, she along with her batch mates had interviewed a lot of people to understand what kind of merchandise they liked. They had worked out every detail. But when she took the idea to the Wadhwani Centre for Entrepreneurship Development's incubation centre, she realised the range of products had to be whittled down for the concept to translate into reality. Once the idea got selected, she honed in on four products: tshirts, mugs, bags and bookmarks. Rupees 5 lakh was approved as the initial capital but given in installments. Singh travelled every month to Hyderabad, detailing her progress and finally when the first sample rolled out in late 2011, it seemed worth the effort. "It was a mug with an elegant sketch of the Charminar," she recalls.


What it Means
From the sample, to the first commercial product, Singh had done her share of scouring for suppliers and commissioning freelance artists. On her ecommerce website (beenthere.in) as well as selected retail stores such as Crossword, Mother Earth and Central, one can buy a range of products depicting monuments and food of various Indian cities such as Bengaluru, Hyderabad, New Delhi, Mahabaleshwar, Rajasthan and more. She insists on aesthetically done sketches rather than photographs. "The products have aesthetics that go beyond a photograph on a mug or tshirt," she points out. And unlike the numerous craft items that are available outside the monuments, her products are merchandise which are stylish takeaways of a memorable trip.
The Set-up
Singh works from a home office in Domlur and manages the ecommerce and marketing on her own. "Thanks to shopify.in, online business has been very simple to handle," she says, adding that she has had no IT training or background. She hires designers and artists on a need-basis, who deliver their services according to her instructions. She meets potential partners in retail and online sectors, showing them her products. "When pitching for a retail store, the range of products have to be diverse and in a good number," she says. At any point, there are about six people working on different aspects of the products.


Revenue Model
When working in the retail segment, whatever is sold becomes revenue. The profit earned is shared with the retail stores or the online partners "which leaves me with about 20-30 per cent profit margin." At present, Singh is self-funding her initiative whenever required.


The First Client
It was a batchmate who had a travel start-up. His client had four resorts in the Nilgiris and she was asked to design and supply t-shirts and bags for the resorts. "I had done a sketch of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway for the bags and graphics of wildlife for the t-shirts," she recalls. Soon, she moved on to retail stores and ensured that her products were placed in stores that complemented them. But getting a toehold in the stores was not easy. It took a lot of meetings and waiting in front of their offices before convincing them to keep her products.
The Challenge
Funding has been the biggest challenge. If there had been better funding, she could have scaled up and had a stand-alone store. "Sometimes, when payments from stores are delayed, I face a cash crunch," she says.

Memorable Moments
When Mother Earth agreed to put up her products in 2012, Singh was ecstatic. The first month saw good sales of her products, giving her brand a further boost. But she really cherishes the times when she spots someone with one of her products. "Last week, I was at Garuda Mall buying gelato ice cream and saw a lady with a Beenthere bag," she says. "I was so excited that I wanted to take a picture. I feel like this whenever I see my product being used by someone." Another 'feel good' moment was receiving an email from a Malaysian in Jakarta, asking her to send some of her products. "He wrote saying that although he had visited India several times; he never could find merchandise for the places he had visited."
Future Plans
Singh plans to approach airport stores and government-run establishments. "These things take time," she says, "but eventually the products will speak for themselves." And in order to attract the younger crowd, she has been introducing a whacky line of products based on Indian gods, politicians and native idioms. For Singh, the slow and steady way to make good memories is clearly winning.



Beenthere

USP: Selling a little bit of history on merchandise products

Started: 2011
Number of employees: 6

 

 

 

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We ship anywhere in India within 1-2 days of the order placed. We will be happy to respond at support@beenthere.in to your queries and feedback.