Founder and CEO of Vamaship Bhavik Chinnai; avante garde footwear designer Himali Doshi and Founder of Marriager.com Priyal Sheth share their unique success stories
BHAVIK CHINNAI, Founder and CEO of Vamaship that currently services 19,500 pin codes in India and facilitates shipping to and from 200 countries in a candid conversation with G2.
Tell us about the genesis of Vamaship.
The logistic industry has been unorganised for decades. There is a major gap between shippers and logistic companies where shippers don’t have visibility on a good price for shipping and good logistic companies aren’t able to reach out to thousands of companies due to limited sales resources. This gap had to be eliminated and so we thought of a concept where we’re using technology to create a win-win for all stakeholders, creating a new sales channel for logistic companies and bringing economical prices and automated shipping processes for the shippers, primarily a tech-aggregator. Thus the beginning of Vamaship.
How do the services of your company differ or stand apart from those of other integrated logistic platforms?
There are many start-ups in the logistic space globally that are trying to change a specific segment of shipping. We know of start-ups in solely shipping, air freight, e-commerce logistics and trucking. There is no integrated logistic platform and Vamaship is the first of its kind in the world. By facilitating e-commerce shipping, air and ocean freight, Vamaship is the only ecosystem needed by companies to ship any commodity from any origin to any destination.
Vamaship has an incredibly robust technology which helps create a beautiful shipping experience each time.
The technology automates a large number of offline processes, leading to efficiency which is passed on to customers. The team is from different sectors beyond logistics and with serial entrepreneurs and industry leaders guiding them.
Is there a story behind the name of your company—Vamaship?
Vama means beautiful in Sanskrit and we aim to create a beautiful shipping experience each time.
What is your vision for your company?
Vamaship is focussed on the vision of becoming the world’s shipping partner and is on a mission to set global benchmarks in stakeholder satisfaction.
Your academic journey has spanned the globe from Harvard to LSE to the Indian School of Business. Which institute brought out the best in you and why?
Each institute has given me excellent exposure to cultures and practices. I believe academics is a gateway to structure and thoughts and creates the perfect platform for peer learning.
At Harvard, there were students from over 100 countries and learning about cultures helped broaden my perspective. Both LSE and ISB have helped me build a strong network of friends from across the world and different industries, giving me access to incredible knowledge and local know-how.
After completing your academics which companies did you work for?
Post academics, I joined my family business but worked with several companies across supply chains, venture capital and event management while I was a student. In my family business, I worked in several entities and departments to set up operations from scratch and set up processes which would help scale faster.
When did you join BVC Logistics, a market leader in providing integrated solutions? What prompted the switch?
I started at BVC in 2013. Post joining, the focus was on expanding our network and we tripled the number of branches within four months.
The other strong focus was on professionalising each entity, and bringing excellent teams on board. Within two years, we went global and with strong processes which ensured the family would operate on the board instead of managing day-to-day operations.
Since the start, the gaps in logistics were evident. Technology could bridge the gap, helping scale globally. Starting up was a given for me since college and leveraging the experience and exposure to logistics to make a global business was the best untapped opportunity, hence the switch.
You are said to have caused BVC to get onto an upward trajectory. How did you accomplish this?
It is always the team which helps achieve unachievable targets. Our size quadrupled within three years and this was purely due to a motivated team with their growth aligned with BVC’s growth.
All BVCites have their career paths known to them and we have created a structure where an office boy could become a chairman one day. I hope to see that happening in the very near future.
We also invested in technology and processes and bought into the vision of each entity from each BVCite.
Have you always been an entrepreneur at heart?
Yes, I think so. There’s a book of business ideas I have in which there must be close to 300 ideas of different businesses identified by me since high school. It grew as I travelled and learned more.
Running a start-up which makes a global impact is what I believe in and the idea has been with me since I was young.
Where did you spend your childhood? Tell us about your family.
I grew up primarily in Mumbai. Being the only child has enabled my parents to give me the freedom to pursue my passion in every field.
You have received several awards over the years. Which one has meant the most to you?
The ET Young Supply Chain Professional of the Year 2015 has been the closest to my heart. I felt honoured and humbled for having received this illustrious award amidst the giants of our industry. This award has been special because within this category, the other finalists were over 35 years old and being awarded despite being considerably younger was heartening.
Beyond personal awards, awards for Vamaship are the most exciting. Being nominated as a finalist among decades old, billion dollar enterprises by the Lloyd’s Asia Awards 2016, the world’s most prestigious logistics awards, was a real feather in our cap.
What are your future plans?
We believe we will be in every continent, controlling a fair share of each vertical in logistics by 2021.
We are expanding our presence in India from 3 cities to over 20 cities, focussing on bringing 10,000 paying businesses on board and hiring excellent talent to help scale quickly.
We also plan to raise a larger second round next year, for which we will be announcing our plans by end of 2016.
How do you spend your free time?
I enjoy fashion, driving, soccer and reading. For some time now, my inclination towards design has increased and I design user interfaces in my free time.
What advice would you give wannabe entrepreneurs?
Starting up today is easier than ever before and with essential resources in place, there shouldn’t be another minute wasted considering whether to take the jump or not. A successful start-up has its known merits but learning from a less successful one is unmatched and there is nothing which matches that learning.
Himali doshi, founded her footwear label with a vision of providing luxurious,handcrafted shoes for women. The Himali DoshiLabel creates shoes, which areIndian in their sensibility, yet international in their appeal. Her motto is not to provide just stylebut to make sure comfort is not compromised.
When did you launch the Himali Doshi label? What was the catalyst behind it?
I always knew I wanted to run my own business, to build something from scratch and make it a success. I loved fashion and, more importantly, I loved a good pair of shoes. That is how the idea to study footwear designing started. Finally my label was launched in December 2015.
What is your style statement?
My personal style usually depends on how I feel on a particular day, but I usually favour an edgy chic style. This is exactly the sense of styling that goes through every collection of mine.
How would you describe the woman who wears your creations?
For me the woman who walks in my shoes can be 18 or 60, but she will be independent, fashion forward and confident.
What professional training do you have in this area?
I did the basic designing and constructing shoe course at FDDI in Mumbai and then went on further to study at Taft.tc in Singapore.
When did you sketch your first pair of shoes?
I did a little bit of sketching and redoing of my shoes when I was a teenager but it wasn’t until I turned 22 that I went back to sketching shoes and found my true calling. Since then I have been sketching and designing shoes and learning at every step of the way.
Where is your label available?
I currently have my own studio in Mumbai where clients come and custom order a pair of shoes or pick up a pair that I have designed for the season. I am active in the luxury fashion exhibitions that are held regularly in Mumbai and Dubai. I am also looking to start an online store in the near future. We are also available on multiple online websites.
Do you have plans to introduce a men’s line too?
Yes, I do. That is something I have planned for a little later.
What are your future plans?
For now I am concentrating on expanding and growing my label for women’s footwear. I want to make people aware about how important a shoe is. A good pair of shoes is an investment and not just an accessory.
Tell us about your last collection?
My last collection which came out in September was a capsule collection for the Indian festive and wedding season. It was a mix of classic designs and neutral colours with a signature touch of bling. My aim is to make my client’s feet look amazing!
What tips would you give a woman planning to buy bespoke shoes?
A lot of people think that ordering bespoke shoes will cost a fortune, but that’s not true. Yes, they will cost more than what you pay for a regular pair of shoes but the end product will be worth it. Do your research. You are not investing in just a design or a style you are investing in comfort. Feel free to ask your designer to make you try a variety of cuts and fits to know what you are most comfortable in. For bespoke shoes you will have to go for trials. Make sure you go for them so that you can get the best for yourself from your designer.
PRIYAL SHETH, Founder of Marriager.com, a wedding planning portal that has brought a smile to thousands of couples
who have availed of their services for all their wedding requirements. A marriager, as Priyal says, is someone who supports
you through your wedding and gifts you a marriage.
What prompted you to start Marriager.com?
When my sister got married in 2011, I realised the need and importance of a product like this. However I went on to learn more about the digital space by joining FoxyMoron (a digital agency). Having gained experience and knowledge over the years, I was finally ready to venture out on my own and build the product.
What distinguishes it from other similar portals?
Marriager.com aims to be the ideal catalyst between couples, wedding planners and businesses catering to weddings. We are a user driven platform with strong values on how we benefit all types of users. We understand that Indian wedding planning is not just between the couple but a family oriented process, so we have introduced a mobile application where everyone can plan together and confer. Everyone thus has an overview of the planning process. Apart from this, we have a lot of tools like guest list management, budgeting, checklists, sending e-invites right from the app. We ensure that our vendors are of top-notch quality and are specifically verified by us.
With half of India’s population being under 29 years do you expect to see a boom in the wedding planning industry?
More than age being a factor, there is a general boom in the wedding planning industry as a whole. With newer innovations and upcoming trends, the boom in the wedding industry will keep going north.
What is the average budget of a wedding that your company handles?
We are a wedding planning portal. In simple words, we are like the middle men in between couples planning weddings and the vendors that cater to the wedding industry. We have something for everyone and every budget.
What are the different services you offer?
We have vendors spanning 21 different categories ranging from designers to photographers to choreographers to planners to invite creators and much more. You name it and we have it. Apart from that our application features utility tools that make your planning process stress free and organised. We also help couples build personalised e-invites in-house.
Are you planning to introduce a shop with curated goods for weddings? Yes, we are very keen on introducing a shop section in the future for products and services that our vendors supply.
What has been the response to your blog?
On our blog we cover everything from fashion, beauty and grooming to personal subjects. We try and make sure we have answers to frequently asked questions. The response has been pretty great, especially for our section that talks about real weddings.
What experience did you have before you launched Marriager.com?
I started working when I was still in college with two of my best friends. We had a small imitation jewellery brand. It made us enough pocket money to get through our college days very comfortably. Post graduation, I wanted to gain more experience in different fields and went on to work with FoxyMoron where I discovered my true love for all things technology.
What are the most stressful areas in wedding planning?
From what we have researched, planning as a whole becomes kind of stressful when there are too many elements involved. The logistics and co-ordination process for every task becomes a problem and even if you have help, delegating tasks and keeping tabs on them again is a matter of concern. Our application has provisions to ensure the entire process of planning is enjoyable and smooth, where the bride or groom can assign tasks to people and keep a tab on their completion, organise their guest list, send invites and more.