How did you get into e-commerce business as you belong to a completely different field? I have always been a huge fan of comics such as Tin Tin , Asterix and even Superman - and over the years on my travels abroad especially to Newyork I would go crazy at this store called forbidden planet and in London I would frequent Mega city comics these two places have been instrumental in me wanting to start a store to bring fan merchandise to die-hard fans in India.
Many e-commerce startups have been shut down due to tough competition. Do you think this is the right time to enter in the same segment? The days of market places selling everything are truly past us - but in the same breadth I feel niche market places and e-commerce offering have one of the biggest opportunities going forward as online shopping audiences have matured over the last decade specifically in metros and now want to shop from specialists rather than a supermarket and hence I feel the opportunity here is more lucrative than ever.
Who all do you consider as competition? Ironically most of our competitors are my very close friends - such as Planet Super heroes , Macmerise , Redwolf , Tee story, EFG - we all meet up regularly to exchange ideas and try as much as possible to work together in a healthy manner to grow. We believe our true competitors are the counterfeit fakes and hence us cooperating will make us stronger to control them as the market has huge potential.
How is the company projected to perform in the next 3 years? We have grown over 100% each year over the last 2 year and plan to grow at a similar rate over the next 3 years as well. Our market is booming.
How is the company raising capital? Currently, we are profitable and have opted for the simplest and old fashioned route of raising capital via a term loan with the support of our bank. Most people ask us why don’t we raise capital for equity and my response is the same - I’m a profitable entity - I have faith in my business model - if I can grow with a bank the old fashioned way supporting me - I feel most comfortable and build confidence we are a company with solid foundations and numbers.
How is the company ensuring business sustainability in the long term? We work in a very thrifty way, we also try to ensure we manufacture most of the products we sell hence giving us control over the quality and pricing to constantly improve our margins in this cash-intensive business.
How are you as a leader inspiring change in the company? As the saying goes - change is the only constant - we “ experiment “ with new designs, ideas, products and event brands every quarter as part of our ever-evolving strategy and this has worked we for us. The goal always being trying to figure that one successful idea amongst the 20 that may fail.
We encourage our team to always share any and all thoughts and are a horizontal organisation with our doors always open to top management 24x7.
Please explain how your products and services are positioned in the market(s) that your company is serving? Our products are positioned to win the Hearts of the fans of today’s pop culture driven audience. We are constantly innovating with newer products rather than just the same old t-shirts that most of the players seem to be stuck on. Our vision is the creative minds which follow these famous tv shows and movies such as Harry Potter and Friends want to be surprised and want to share their love for the brands with even more creative products to show as their own selfs version to their peers.
What are the strategies and plans to expand the market share of the company? We are growing by adding new brands to our line up - by venturing out with our own offline stores keeping in mind these must be all profit centre’s and working to relaunch our own website epicstuff.com in a whole new format to improve the customer experience.