The rise of e-commerce has opened doors not only for regular products like electronics, groceries and food, etc., but also for an unorthodox industry– the sexual wellness and sexual products industry.
Still nascent, this industry is a response to a need to create a healthy discussion around sexual wellness and a mature and sophisticated marketplace that can cater to the demands of the couples who aim to improve intimacy in their relationships. The need for such a marketplace can be further validated by the current valuation and projected growth of the industry– currently, valued at USD 450 Million and expected to growto USD 1650 Million by 2020.
Co-founded by Divya and Mreenal, it’spleaZure was launched in January 2016. It aims to educate people on sexual wellness and help couples improve intimacy in their relationship through the many fun and interesting products available on its online store.
In an interview with co-founder Divya, we will talk about her journey to become an entrepreneur.
Firstly, can you please tell us a bit about yourself and where the things started and what motivated you to become an entrepreneur?
After completing my MBA from ICFAI, I started my career with the strategic research team in Deloitte, followed up with a stint in the Citi Group.I have always been an avid sportsperson, and currently I am working on breaking the national swimming record of 100 meters, a goal which I aim to accomplish in the next two years. I am also a basketball fan. Apart from sports, I also pursue photography as a hobby.
The wish to create awareness of sexual wellbeing and help couples find sophisticated products to improve intimacy in their relationships first got me thinking of joining the entrepreneur world. The on going start up India movement also helped make the final decision.
What was the first thing you did to get the word out about your startup and how did you measure the effectiveness of this?
Like most bootstrap startups, we didn’t have many options. So we resorted to the time tested, WoM (word of mouth) by informing our friends about the venture. We followed this up with attending business and social meets and informing the people of our new venture. This really helped as our website traffic increased by 86% in 15 days and the time spent on the website doubled.
What’s the hardest decision you’ve made so far?
This is easy. The hardest decision that I’ve made so far was how to tell my parents about my intentions/plan to launch it’spleaZure. But to my surprise, once I explained the concept and the reasoning behind it, they were very supportive.
What mistakes have you made thus far in this business and what have you learned?
Planning for a shorter time frame, is one of the biggest mistakes a start up can make. When we started out, we plannedmicro-activities like campaigns etc only for the first three months and macro level for 2 years.But now I realize that given all the responsibilities, I do not have the time required to make an equally thorough plan and implementation schedulefor the next three-six months or year. I feel that we should have made at least a micro six-month – one-year plan before we started.
Apart from this, I also realized the importance of clear communication and setting defined deliverables with vendors/affiliations etc. and documenting these expectations. These things come in use when you want to assess your business’s and/or your vendor’s performance.
This said, I have learned something new everyday while meeting and overcoming the challenges of operating a new venture be it in hiring, introducing the business to associates and investors, or just dealing with the questions of why choose such an unorthodox industry!
As a founder, what do you believe to be the end goal for this startup?
Our main goal is to help create awareness of sexual wellness and help people add excitement to their intimate relationship in a fun and healthy manner.
Finally, would you have any inspirational tips for aspiring entrepreneurs about to kick-start their start up dreams?
These are the three things that I have learned while setting up it’spleaZure.
- Don’t underestimate the value of any idea. As clichéd as it sounds, it is true.
- Belief, Courage and Perseverance are the key things you should always carry with you as an entrepreneur.
- You may have thousands of plans with you, but starting a business requires far more than an idea – start your venture after thorough research and when you have strong implementation strategies to back it up.
What does it take to start an online business nowadays? A unique innovative idea? Know-how? Long working hours? People? What is your recipe?
A successful business is a combination of four things – an idea, effort, team, and timing. Your idea, need not be unique but it definitely needs to solve a problem or make life easier for customers. Once you have the idea, you need to put in efforts and lots of hard work with the right team to make it a success. Along with these three things, you need to ensure that your product hits the market at the right time – evenlarge companies have faced failure in many countries because their product launch was not well-timed.
Personally, I believe a mix of all the above in the right proportion can go a long way in making your venture successful. I feel, for it’spleaZure the time was right as the sexual wellness industry is in a nascent stage and is projected to grow more than 350% in the next five years. People are also becoming aware of the industry, and are open to experimenting with these products. And as for effort and time –the team at it’spleaZure spends more than 14 hours/day to provide the best customer experience in terms of product range, marketing mix, and operational efficiency.