Please walk us through your entrepreneurial journey and background before you started? Any interesting stories?
We, Anjali Garg & I, established Mplace Edventures Pvt. Ltd on 27th September 2012, with a view to explore opportunities in the upcoming growth sectors in ecommerce and education with the use of web and cloud technologies.
Ecommerce won over Education for several reasons, but mainly because it offered higher entrepreneurial freedom in the terms of regulations.
10kya.com was our first platform, and was initially to offer 10 weekly curated selections of top books, movies, music albums and games.
Having selected a web-development company from amongst 68 to whom we floated an RFP, the work on the website came to a standstill after two months when the selected company could not deliver and its promoter went AWOL. What is now 4 years old, could have died a premature death into the 5th month since inception.
Thanks to some good fortune, guts and a few weeks of hard work, we were able to develop the initial platform, all on our own. People on the wrong side of 40’s and with no prior technical knowledge, we learnt from the internet, using the only skill we had at that moment – asking google the right questions! That experience proved extremely valuable. Since then, most of our development is inhouse.
About founding team
Anjali Garg comes from a business family and has cut her teeth on running family businesses. Her husband, Pramendra Garg was my colleague for years in the telecom industry. He is an accomplished finance professional and is currently CFO of a global corporation. It was during discussions of my desire to get into an entrepreneurial venture that Anjali evinced interest in co-promoting our enterprise.
Vineesh Ghei joined us a co-promoter in February 2013. Vineesh is an accomplished professional with over two decades of corporate experience. Before joining us as a co-promoter, he was VP-Sales & Marketing with Etisalat Telecom.
I, Sharad Gupta, have been a three times entrepreneur before promoting this company, besides having about 3 decades of experience in sales, business development and customer experience management with companies like Airtel, Etisalat, etc. I am also an amateur photographer and passionate about the outdoors, which is a passion shared by all four of us, and therefore our enterprise reflects our passions.
Tell us little about your product/ platform
10kya.com is a platform for outdoor and sports lovers where they can buy, sell, rent, hire, book and offer products, expertise and activities related to the outdoor passions of human kind.
In other words, we have a marketplace and social platform where customers can buy or hire relevant products, book outdoor activities/workshops/trainings/experiences. Customers can also offer relevant products owned by them to others on rental or pre-owned sales. People can also offer outdoor experiences and expertise to other customers. Therefore, it is a fully developed B2C as well as P2P social marketplace.
Tell us about your customer traction
10kya.com is now a self-sustaining business having achieved a break-even. We have a customer base of over 40,000 outdoor and sports lovers, who visit us regularly for their requirements. We have 35% repeat buying behaviour.
How has been your association with IBM Global Entrepreneur? How important do you think IBM Global Entrepreneur is to help and improve the ecosystem?
It has been a wonderful association. Timely advice from Radhesh and other IBM-GEP team members, introductions and networking opportunities from IBM have gone a long way into cementing our position in the startup space. Having interacted with several IBM-GEP users, I can say that IBM has played a stellar role in promoting the startup culture in India. What is more, IBM has not limited themselves to a few breeding grounds and known centres – like some IITs and some incubation centres – of startup space. Unlike several other players who are also offering cloud credits to the startups, IBM stands out for their extensive out-reach.
What’s your take on the IBM Cloud? How is it helping your start-up grow?
From hosting our platform on Softlayer, which has given us a ~100% uptime and great cloud like flexibility on a bare-metal server; to interactions with several other IBM-GEP members, our business has gained a lot. Our tech support uses resources on Blue Mix and our analysts make use of Watson Analytics regularly.
What is your road ahead for your start-up?
We are still at the first step of our journey. We are building a relevant customer base in order to make this a global P2P platform for outdoor lovers. Having developed a strong platform with some innovative and clever use of technology, we are looking forward to taking the platform global.