It is always exhilarating to interview one of the most talented young entrepreneurs in the country- Akhilesh Bali of mithaimate.com. Mithaimate.com is your online sweetshop, delivering sweetness anywhere, anytime.
Akhilesh and his partners have come up with something quite different in terms of online shopping and it would be quite interesting see how their venture flourishes.
Excerpts from the interview with the 'inspired' man!
When did you first decide you wanted to work for yourself?
I have been always inclined to work on my own rather than for someone else. The kind of freedom and individual identity which you get to enjoy being an entrepreneur can never really come in the corporate field, also in the longer run I think being in business makes more financial sense.
Why did you choose the kind of business you are currently in?
Well we wanted to do something in the Dot-com space, specifically online retail as we believe it is just a matter of time before Online retail takes off in a big way, just like people have taken to online ticketing and bookings, so it made sense for us to enter a market which is poised for a good growth.
Do you feel that owing the business has been worth the conflicts that you had to deal with?
Yes absolutely, the mere realisation that something which was just an idea a few months back is now an up & running business with good prospects gives a very satisfactory feeling.
Had you had any sales or marketing experience prior to starting your own enterprise?
Yes we ran a part-time Customised T-shirt company while in college and we catered to college kids in Mumbai, Pune, Surat etc. We used to print the college logos and funky slogans on T-shirts and market it during fests etc.
What type of planning did you do prior to starting up?
We did a market study to see which vertical is currently not being catered to properly to identify a gap and that when we found out that there are established flowers, cakes retailers online but no particular platform for Mithai. Also we spent time understanding the logistics side of business to come up with a model with lowest turn-around-times.
What has been the highlight of your entrepreneurial career to date?
We were overwhelmed when we got lots of unexpected orders on Diwali, but we worked round the clock and were able to ship and deliver most of the orders on the promised date and time. That gave us a lot of confidence that we have built a system which can handle unexpected load properly, as the backend is a critical factor in online retail.
What has been the low point of your entrepreneurial career?
The slight delay we experienced after we had launched( took us 24 days to get the first order) made us a little panicky and we were in two minds about continuing with the venture but then sales picked up and we got too busy to think otherwise.
What problems did you discover once your operation was well underway?
That’s the best part about starting on your own, you get a lot of problems, so it is fun trying to figure out a solution and then move to the next one. One particular problem we faced was the mindset that mithai is only for festivals etc. But we have gained some success in creating a mithai gifting genre which caters to everyday occasions like “ Sweets for my Sweetheart”, “ Mithai for the new car” etc. Which get us a lot of business now despite no big festival.
For more info visit Mithaimate website www.mithaimate.com