Harshwardhan Patwardhan – Chappers Footwear

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1. A bit about yourself and how you landed up being an Entrepreneur?

Born and brought up in a business family, my natural inclination was always towards being an entrepreneur. My father owns a transport Solution company based in Pune,India by the name Prasanna Purple Mobility Solutions. Though for some years I had assumed I will work with my father in the future, as I grew up I realised the travel industry was not my forte. Being a true patriot, I could not stay in the United Kingdom for more than a year and came back instantly after completing my MSC Management from the University of Nottingham. I had worked in my family business for about 6 months when I started to feel the need to do something different. I thought……Bang..!! I wanted to promote my country. I wanted to do something that would make India stand out. I cannot and will not ever be ready to accept our country as a third world country. I can, all of us can do something to get rid of this tag. This was the start of Chappers.

2. What is Chappers all about? How did you get the idea and what does the brand stand for?

I Love Kolhapuri chappals..! They are so stylish. So unique. Each and every person in our country has bought or wants to buy a pair of Loafers, Moccasins, Brogues etc. While this is not wrong, why does no one want to buy Kolhapuris..?! Just because they are made in India and not in Italy or US..? Just because a pair of needy hands make them, not an expensive machine..? People find Greek sandals and gladiators fancy and expensive, just because the Greeks are proud of their product.! The reality is there is very little difference between Indian chappals and Greek sandals. Its just that we are not proud of our own chappals. Chappers tries to solve this question..! We want to make Indians proud of Indian products first, then the world will follow.

We manufacture Kolhapuri chappal inspired footwear. We have tried to solve the three major problems of Kolhapuri chappals, one we have made them extremely comfortable, second, we have vibrant colours and modern designs, and third, Chappers have an ultra thin hardened rubber sole to provide grip to the user. On top of everything, Chappers are completely handcrafted. We want the Indian youth to start using and promoting Indian products rather than imported goods. After all, we cannot just say “acchhe din aane waale hai” and expect our Prime Minister to change everything. We can change our country ourselves. Lets start it RIGHT NOW..!

3. I understand that you are passionate about what you do. What do you have to say to the people who are unsure of what they are passionate about?

I think any job is not impossible if you are passionate about it. It can be true otherwise too, any small job can seem difficult if you are not passionate about it. As I have been in the stage where I did not know what I wanted to do, I can easily understand the situation of these people. I am 22 years old and I fortunately found my passion at a young age. For people who have still not found out where their passion lies, please hang on. Do not lose hope and start doing anything you do not like to do. Start exploring, start by thinking of 10 things you really like. Analyse if there are any business opportunities relating to these fields. Is there any gap in the market which you can fill ? Is there any product which you can improve ? The most important thing in your life is enjoying your life. If you are thinking of doing something just for the money, think again..! Will you be able to do this all your life ? If not, why do it now..? Instead search for something that will make you feel as though you are not working.I believe, If you are not enjoying your work, YOU ARE NOT GOING TO MAKE MONEY..!

4.  Your journey with Chappers so far and the hurdles you faced in the journey you have managed to survive.

Chappers is only 5 months old and the number one problem we have faced till now is dealing with the craftsmen. The craftsmen are very innocent and do not understand contemporary style. They think its okay to deviate from designs and create what they think would look good. They are also very rigid as to how the Kolhapuris are manufactured and are adamant to accept that there can be new and better ways of manufacturing.

Coming from a transport company which operates and owns around 1200 buses and has won many national awards and was featured in the top 100 Small and Medium Companies of India award, it was very difficult to convince the society that I am planning to sell ‘Kolhapuri chappals’, which is considered to be the job of roadside sellers. It was very frustrating at times when even family members thought I was crazy to take up such a job. But, as Chappers evolved, I was able to convince everyone that this might be a very interesting start to my career. The thing that helped me to survive this tension was the fact that I believed in Chappers and my ability to take it ahead. People started realizing that the feedbacks about the product are actually very good and that people are liking the initiative I have taken.

5. What are the next steps with the business and what are your plans for the future?

As of now we are in conversation with some websites and we are launching soon on some websites including Housefactory.net Such websites are a very good medium to reach the masses and establish Chappers as a brand. Chappers will also be entering the retail market and soon people will be able to buy Chappers from various boutiques in their cities. We are also in talks with some agents and retailers in the UK and Australia to promote Indian footwear in those countries.Within the next 3 years, Chappers plans to open its flagship stores in India, starting from its hometown, Pune.

6. Where do you look for inspiration and your advise for other entrepreneurs starting out?

People who passionately do something to change the world are my prime source of inspiration. People like Richard Branson,the founder of Virgin group and Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla motors are people who actually have the vision to change the world for the better. People like these will always inspire young entrepreneurs like me and will eventually make the world a better place to live in. Also, one does not need to find inspiration outside if they have an inspirational figure in their own house. My dad is the most inspiring person for me, as he is constantly on the lookout to reform the transport system of the country. Our company operates public transport buses in cities like Bhopal, Indore, Delhi, Ludhiana, Pune etc with a vision to improve the public transport system of this country. He is a public figure and is the Vice President of the Maharashtra Transport Association, motivating many people apart from me to take an initiative and change India for the better.

The only suggestion I will give young entrepreneurs is to follow their heart. The heart can never be wrong. Never succumb to pressure from relatives, friends etc and do something you do not like to do. Life will be miserable if you do not love what you do. Life will be a blessing if you love what you do. And please please hang on till you find your passion. Keep moving towards it and it will move towards you too.

Request everyone to please visit their facebook page at-  https://www.facebook.com/chappersindia. Feel free to share feedback at mychappers@gmail.com.

Sanjyot Shah – The Techno(logical) Inspiring Entrepreneur! (TIE)

Sanjyot TIE1. Briefly describe your journey so far in life.

Well, having started the most important journey in life, the journey so far seems relatively insignificant at the moment. I was like any other kid in school until the day my father decided to get a computer. As it was being assembled at home, the process of “making” a computer  highly fascinated the child in me! I believe this was the moment when the seeds of being a technology freak were sown. I always wanted to be someone who could make computers and make them work. This fascination was alive, when it was time for me to make a choice after school and I enrolled for an engineering diploma in computer technology. This decision was well supported by my parents and other important people in my life. The hunger for more knowledge drove me to take up a masters course as well. Along the way, I read about great entrepreneurs as a hobby and the ambition to become  an entrepreneur took root. After my masters I turned down three job offers, out of which two were what people would call ‘dream jobs’ with tech giants of the modern world. Such is my passion for entrepreneurship and technology combined, that a mere discussion, years ago with two of my best friends Devendra and Yash, of starting up a tech company soon became a reality, hence the conception of Technobratz! It has been two and a half months and, as I said earlier, the most important journey in my life has just begun…

2. Please describe the activities Technobratz is into and how the start-up has been perceived in its early days.

Technobratz is currently serving in four domains, viz. Mobile Applications, Software development & Custom software development, Web Designing and a Design Studio. We are focused on delivering the best, time bound services. We have dedicated expert teams in each of these domains but Mobile applications is our main forte, with a number of projects already lined up.

It has not been a smooth sailing journey. Clients, for obvious reasons, doubt your potential. Inexperience in dealing with clients overseas doesn’t help either. On the other hand, people have been extremely co-operative as well. Everything said and done, the satisfaction of being a start-up and living up to expectations is priceless!

3. According to you, what does it take to get a tech start up off the ground, especially in India? 

I can think of three things – patience, determination and self-belief. Getting a tech start-up off the ground is going to test your determination to succeed to its limit. You have to be smart and grab every small opportunity that comes your way. Building up your work portfolio is the way you can make headway in the international market. We faced tonnes of setbacks and disappointments; this is where self-belief and patience is tested. Stay focused. Determination should be converted to hard work. Consider every project coming your way and work to your full potential every time. Treat all clients at par. Such a work ethic imbibed early on will work to your advantage in the long run.  Fortunately, every partner at Technobratz has this principle down to the letter, easing off some of the pressure that comes with a start-up.

4. What are the three most important things you learnt after you became an Entrepreneur? 

In my opinion, giving all costumers equal priority is the single most important thing. Customer satisfaction leads to an immense sense of fulfilment. Irrespective of who the customer is, maintaining the same level of professionalism is essential. A healthy and fun work environment goes a long way. As an Entrepreneur, it is your responsibility to ensure that your employee works in the most efficient manner with a happy mind. Finally, legal issues can be catastrophic in some cases, so knowing the law, in terms of technology and the product you create or the service you render, is crucial. Compliance with legal formalities and honesty make for hassle-free growth over time.

5.What do you have to say to the people who at different crossroads of life battle these difficult choices – a) To go get a job that you might not be passionate about. b) Start something of your own with an inherent risk of failing miserably.

Well, getting a job that you might not be passionate about doesn’t make sense. Then why do it?! The Greats have always said being passionate about work and having work satisfaction is the most important thing! If your passion lies in starting up your own business and being an entrepreneur, then why not. Agreed it comes with inherent risks, but achieving your dream to become a successful entrepreneur is well worth the risk. If you have the determination to do well, failing miserably is out of the question!

6. Where do you look for inspiration

The determination and motivation to succeed is inspirational enough. The support and love of my family and friends keeps me goingl. I believe, this drives me towards success.

Sanjyot can be contacted on Facebook

About the project : Game Changers

Dhvani Khanderia – An E-Entrepreneur at the age of 20

Dhvani

How did you get started in business?

“It all started with the help of my dad! He knew very well that I was just like the other girls who loved to spend money on clothes, going out with friends, movies etc! He purposely used to give me just Rs 600 as my pocket money for 30 days! I started complaining asking him to increase it, so he offered me a deal! He asked me to join his business (Into websites), and asked me to work just for 1 hr anytime in the day and he would pay me Rs. 1000. I found it quite interesting and agreed with the deal!

Slowly, this deal actually became my passion! And I started loving this! This is how I learnt web-designing and planned to launch my 1st website – www.GlamWorldChennai.com

Glam was launched only with the help of my dad! He introduced me to his friend who deals with women’s apparel and accessories and this is how my journey in business started!”

What do you think are the challenges faced by younger Entrepreneurs like yourself?

“In the initial stages its difficult to get customers. People do not trust you easily because of your age. My business policy is such that I ask people to 1st make a bank transfer (In case of deliveries) and then I confirm their orders. So in the beginning, people refused to do so, but later as they got reviews from their friends, the trust factor creeped in and helped me. Definitely competition is also a big challenge and it is always going to be a big one.”

What are your goals for the business and yourself?

“I want to set up an extensive online store featuring all possible products for men & women, give them the latest news about the trends.”

What’s the toughest feedback you’ve ever received and how did you learn from it?

“The customers who approached me for the 1st time asked me where my store is located. Since we are an online store, I do not keep items in stock. So, many people said that you will not have a good response if you do not keep stock. At first I felt what they were saying was right. I had a discussion about it with my dad. He convinced me saying, what I was doing was absolutely right, keeping the stock is a big problem, you have dead stock and then disposing those off means losses. So basically, I learnt that it would be good if we  could provide a return/exchange option to our customers because many times the customers change their minds once they buy the products. We now allow for returns and exchange on certain products.”

What key personal characterstics do you see in yourself that were especially important for your success?

“Patience & confidence are the 2 most important characteristics. In the initial stages you will not have an encouraging response, so its very necessary that you be patient and DO NOT give up. And always have confidence in whatever you’re doing. People will comment & criticise,  do not bother. Do what you feel is right and portray a confident picture of yourself so that they do not have a chance to pull you down. Once they come to know that you are not confident about yourself, that is the time they are waiting for. Always be confident & patient.”

What three pieces of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today? 

Exactly like how Seth Godin preaches, Dhvani says “See the trend, decide your products/services and give it your best. When you start off consider having only 10 satisfied customers rather than having 100 unsatisfied customers and spoiling your brand name. 10 satisfied customers will spread the word to atleast 10 people each and you’ll quickly have 100 people wanting to buy from you”.

Dhvani can be contacted on Facebook

About the project : Game Changers