Sunday, October 20

Urban cool kulhars with a desi touch

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In the age of startups, when the GenNext is obsessed with creating innovative apps to lure in investors, a 23-year-old from the city has been focusing on brick-and-mortar shops to woo buyers.
Ranodeep Saha, who launched his business—Rare Planet that sells customized knick-knacks and terra cotta crockery with a Bengal touch—when he was a first-year student at West Bengal University of Technology, now has dedicated sections for his products in 85 stores across the country. The merchandise, which includes terra cotta crockery, handmade notebooks and customised products made of terra cotta, aluminium as well as copper, is manufactured by artisans from rural Bengal.

Saha decided to start something of his own after his visit to an IIT fest in 2015, when he saw young entrepreneurs working on their business ideas. On his return and after some deliberation, he set up a stall at a fest at a central Kolkata school, where he sold terra cotta cups with unique designs. The demand for his products there pushed him to build a company that would manufacture and sell “homemade kulhars with a desi touch”. “At the school fest, where I was not even sure whether people would like my merchandise or not, I sold 100 kulhars at Rs 300 each. That’s where I got my seed money of Rs 30,000,” said the young entrepreneur.

Armed with this capital, Saha launched a website but unfortunately, it saw hardly any transaction. The idea fell through. “At that point, I decided to follow the shop-in-shop model and began doing business with premium book stores, starting with a popular one on Park Street,” Saha said. What he did was sell his products through established book chains. This idea worked wonders with an earning of Rs 97,000 in the first month and Rs 1.2 lakh in the second month from the sales at the Park Street book store. Buoyed by the success, Saha started adding more shops to his profile, including stores at airports across the city.

In 2018, Rare Planet launched its first and only company-owned store in Durgapur. Growing at a rate of 100%, the company now earns Rs 22 lakh a month, with an annual turnover of Rs 2.6 crore. At present, Saha employs around 200 artisans, whom he pays Rs 5,000 to Rs 8,000 a month. He’s also looking to make a foray in south India, with the brand name, ‘Kulo’.

 

Source: Times of India

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