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Student Entrepreneurs Bootstrapping a Zero-Logistics E-Commerce Company to $19 Million: CEO Azim Makanojiya (Part 3)

Posted on Sunday, Sep 28th 2014

Sramana Mitra: Why that? What prompted your interest in that area specifically?

Azim Makanojiya: We were at this e-commerce conference where it all started. There was a presenter there who was about 19 years old and had started a wristband company. He talked about his company and how he did his business. All his products were made in the US. He had a huge overhead. He talked about how it’s hard for competition to come in because of the way he manufactured. All his credentials were online. He presented his financials like how much he started with and how much he built up to, and how much the demand was.

We just needed to see if there was a market for us to squeeze into. We three got together the next day and came up with the concept of doing this but with the help of the Chinese factory overseas. This was just brainstorming. We came up with the idea of just going online and finding a factory that would be able to this.

Making silicon wristbands is not just making wristbands. There’s a lot of process that goes into it and a lot of different engines that are involved in it such as the moulding and the tooling. We did our research and we then came to noticing how much traffic we were getting through the top keywords – silicon wristband, wristbands, custom wristbands, rubber wristbands. The volume was pretty significant for us to approach this and make this into a real business. That validated us – because of the volume that was there. You could see how many people are searching for that and how many people are demanding for that type of product.

The other validation was, “Let’s see what prices our competitors are offering. Can we beat those prices?” Our number one go-to-market strategy was, “We need to make sure that we can undercut our competitors because our competitors were there. They had a head start of about a year to a year and a half.” For us to even get a foot in, we needed to undercut them. If we did not have the ability to get prices that were lower than our competitors’, we wouldn’t have approached this.

After a month or two of researching, we came across this company that was willing to work with us. They gave us a fantastic price even without a single order. We approached them in the sense that, “We would be spending this much of marketing dollars. This is our website and this is what we’re going to be doing. We’re motivated people.” We came across this factory that was willing to give us a VIP pricing, which was very appealing to us. The pricing proved to be very competitive compared to what the competitors were offering. That was what gave us the drive to move forward, finalize our website, campaign on AdWords and Yahoo, and move forward with that.

Sramana Mitra: We are talking about 2011 now?

Azim Makanojiya: We’re still talking about around 2009 to 2010. February 2010 was when we officially launched. We started around December of 2009.

This segment is part 3 in the series : Student Entrepreneurs Bootstrapping a Zero-Logistics E-Commerce Company to $19 Million: CEO Azim Makanojiya
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