Amber is bringing a very-technology focussed approach to the beauty and wellness industry. With Mobile penetration reaching record heights, their mobile platforms(Android and iOS App) for freelance beauty stylists helps them build their branded profile, gives them a CRM tool for managing clients, and provides them content and tips on managing their business.
- What inspired you to startup?
Since my school days, I had dreamt of running my own company. During my stay at IIT, I had a chance to interact with seniors and alumni who were running their ventures just after college. In my third year, I was involved with LetsVenture, which was a platform that connected startups to investors. At LetsVenture, I had the experience of working in an early-stage startup and see it expand. After college, when I joined housing, it was on an exponential growth trajectory. The kind of high-intensity work environment inspired me. I was amazed by pace at which these ventures were being built. In my peer group itself, there were people who were working on solving challenging problems. This is when I made up my mind, and finally took the decision.
- What were the difficulties you faced on your entrepreneurial journey?
As any other entrepreneur would know, starting off itself takes lots of courage. Initially, my parents did question me as I was having a decent job at Housing with a good pay. I had to convince them, which I knew they’d agree. At first, the challenge was to find perfect team who you can trust. There were lot of talented folks whom I came across while working at Housing. Before I took the decision I had to ask myself “Are these the people who would be my business partners, 10 years down?”.
Once I was into it, there was no looking back (and no second thoughts). You have to get accustomed to living like a nomad. I have been through experience of building the first MVP and see it failing. It will be hard to convince smart people to join you, and getting on-hold indefinitely on multiple times. Lastly, you have to face all the odds and still move on.
- What inspired you to come up with the idea for Amber?
Around January, last year I was exploring opportunities in early stage startups. At that particular time, there were lots of startups disrupting the hyperlocal space and in particular – logistics, groceries and food. Being from a technology background, their problem statement appealed to me, but I found their unit economics was not viable to sustain. Beauty and Wellness as sector on the other hand, is in a nascent stage. Most of it is offline and fragmented with the top player capturing market of ~250cr in a 40K cr sized market. I believed this offered a huge opportunity to innovate and this is how it started.
- What was the biggest challenge you faced while launching Amber?
Since we launched there have been lot of competitors in this space, many of them even shutting down recently. Though, competition is a good sign, but to stand out you have to constantly keep innovating (the blue ocean strategy!). There are 2 ways to build a product – either build fast, fail and then reiterate or take your time, do research and figure out a perfect product-market fit. Frankly speaking, we did both.
Most of our customers are women. There is a different thinking involved while building products for women, that revolves around the mantra that – “Men shop online for convenience, women for experience”. Women are more socially inclined and there is a more word of mouth influence too. You need to do in-depth research and figure out what they want.
Supply side is of paramount importance in this sector. We have worked extensively to scale our supply, and also ship a product to be used by freelancers to manage their business.
- What is the next step for Amber and where do you see it in the next 5 years?
We are currently in process of launching a mobile social-commerce platform for beauty in the coming month. For freelancers too, we are enhancing our current platform to include a full mobile CRM and schedule management tool. Things are changing at a rapid pace, and it’s hard to predict what will be the scenario 5 years from now. Still, in the longer run, data and intelligence would play a critical role to make the experience more personalized for the consumer. We would be able to predict lot of trends. Social would also be a big thing, as beauty is inherently social by nature and inspiration comes from people in your circles.
- Apart from Mumbai which cities are you planing on expanding into?
Mumbai itself is a large market, and also the hub of fashion and beauty industry. In the coming months our focus would be to set the right operational processes and expand across Mumbai and nearby suburbs. Post that we would be launching in major metro cities across India – Delhi, Bangalore, Pune, Gurgaon etc.
- What would your advice be to a first time Entrepreneur?
As an entrepreneur it is essential to develop self management skills – be focussed, efficient and value time. Make habit of keeping a diary, where you can pen down ideas. Network with entrepreneurs working in different industries, as you would get a broader perspective. Also, be around people smarter than you, as they would push you to your limits. Invest in yourself and ask yourself before going to sleep “What did I achieve today?”. Last but not the least – enjoy life, have fun – life is too short to be taken seriously.
- Do you believe the idea is more important or the way you sell it?
I think the way you sell your idea is more important. Ideas would change often. Most people who join or invest in you, are for the vision you show them. A million-dollar idea is of no value, if you can’t convince people to believe in it. It’s as simple as this – “People see what you show them”. Take it to your advantage and show them what they want to see!
- What is the one most important thing you learned as an entrepreneur?
There have been lots of learning but the most crucial being to keep calm, believe in yourself and never let go. Also, would recall a quote on Jackie Chan – “Jackie doesn’t win fights because he’s the best fighter, he wins because he doesn’t give up”.