Startup Sunday Season 2 Episode 2 (The Pooja Shop)

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This week we present to you the story of an entrepreneur whom you might have seen on the campus. An engineer by fate, a blogger by choice and an entrepreneur by passion, Mr. Ritvij Pathak, PGDMHR 2016-18 batch, converted a simple idea into a prospering business. A fearless risk taker, Mr. Ritvij is fond of transforming simple, mundane things into something that everyone would love. Given below is the transcript of our interview with Mr. Ritvij:

 

ECell: Who is Ritvij without “The Pooja Shop”?

Ritvij: I am a typical computer science engineer, forced by my parents to pursue MBA. But I never wanted to get into engineering college or a B-school. I was always wanted to be a game developer or game tester. When guys of my age played video games for fun, I was actually intrigued by the amount of work that went into creating each level or scene. Once I realized that I hadn’t learned anything in the 4 years of engineering, I started looking at how various businesses actually function. I am a person who loves taking risks, live the carefree life and party hard. I have a passion for speed and everything luxurious known to mankind, be it tech products, bikes, drinks or experiences.

ECell: What made Ritvij – the game developer to become Ritvij – The Entrepreneur?

Ritvij: I never wanted to work for someone. You might call it arrogance or attitude but I never wanted to be under constant supervision. In my first year of engineering, back in 2012, I came up with the idea of delivering groceries online which was not heard of at that point in time. My friends made fun of me and parents laughed at the idea of buying bread online. I was discussing it with a friend of mine just as an idea in an informal session and in a few months, Grofers was born. Later that year, I thought of selling medicines online but there was no license available so I could not implement that idea as well. The very next year NetMeds was launched.

I then went on to start my own tech and lifestyle blog in my third year. It went very well and the blog started earning just 3 months after the launch. In the first two years, I was making handsome six figures and things were great.

ECell: How did “The Pooja Shop” happen?

Ritvij: “The Pooja Shop” was an entirely different story. I was driving to Gorakhpur from Delhi with my uncle and we were discussing ideas on the way. I knew that people living in tier 1 and tier 2 cities do not have the time to go out and hunt for samagri or book a pandit or perform all the rituals. I had seen my father visit 5-6 shops to get the perfect samagri and every month we had a certain number of pandits perform rituals at our house for which they would demand a lakh or 1.5 lakh rupees. Though being an atheist myself I saw this as an excellent business opportunity. On the way home, I researched a little online and found that in Mumbai there was a service available called wheresmypandit.com which had a similar concept and dealt with pandits, samagri and idols. I wanted to take the concept a notch further and was targeting the tier 1 customers of Delhi NCR region first and cater to NRI customers as well since they want to perform the rituals but pandits are scarce in UK and US. Hence, Epooja was an option, wherein all the rituals would be performed and the customer could view it through livestream, Copycat Pooja wherein the rituals would be performed and the customer had to copy the same at their end, and otherwise the customer could leave the entire process to the team. By the time we reached Gorakhpur, I had already bought the domain, made all necessary registrations, finalised a logo and “The Pooja Shop” was live.

ECell: What is the valuation of your business now and what was the valuation after the first year of your venture?

Ritvij: When we started with the idea, we were looking at around 53- 55 lakhs approximately based on the projections of the business. Surprisingly, in the first year we made a business of only about 12 lakhs. After two years, it stands well in seven figures.

ECell: Do you think procrastination is the main reason why many ideas are not transformed into operating ventures?

Ritvij: Definitely. Even right now I am in college, if I have an order I might say I would process the order tomorrow and that tomorrow would never really come. When my customer calls to inquire about the order, I realize I should process the order. So, entrepreneurs have to be on their toes all the time and whenever we get ideas, we must jot it down and start working on it immediately.

ECell: What would you suggest: Start off and think about the feasibility of the idea or check whether the idea is feasible and then start working on it?

Ritvij: I would suggest not to think twice before starting with any idea. There will an entire world that tell you that it won’t work. But, you have to believe in yourself. It was also the case with me, when I got down at Gorakhpur, everyone in my family warned me not to start this business since no one in our family has any prior experience in business. If you think you have the ability to do something, you will be able to do it. You should plan out a strategy, your roadmap for the next 2-3 months at least and then you can keep building up on that.

ECell: What is the situation of the market in India for your business and what are your future plans to tap the untapped avenues with these poojas, marriages and rituals happening on a daily basis and India being a country where people spend huge amounts in marriages?

Ritvij: Talking in terms of market size, this is the biggest unorganized sector. There are premium pandits who charge a lot. The entire population of our country has some degree of religious faith, beliefs and values. These customers can be tapped if they are convinced that we are not playing with their beliefs but are there to keep them connected to their roots.

As for the future prospects of the business, we are now into idol business as well. We plan to provide our customers with a virtual experience, probably an offline store wherein the customer gets the feeling of tranquillity, the smell of incense sticks, consult with the pandits, keep on walking to discover new things about your religion which is the mission of “The Pooja Shop”.

ECell: We wish you all the best for your future endeavours Ritvij. Thanks for your time.

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