“Insanity is the doing of the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” -is one of the most famous dialogues of Charlie Sheen starrer blockbuster hit Wall Street. Were it not for the experience gained in years of repetitive failing, most entrepreneurs could be rightly classified as insane. A great many entrepreneurs materialize the experiences gained into something unique. The story of EthniCache is no different.
EthniCache, like most other start-ups, started as a failure. The origins of the entity can be traced back to the year 2018. Having worked as a part-time freelancer in the earlier phases of his life, the founder – Anurag Panda, started a content development platform named ScriptBaron. Originally from a legal background, the founder had no idea about programming or platform building. Like most founders from a non-technical background, the founder employed the help of a website development company based in Jaipur. The little savings which the founder had, were invested into the building of the platform, and the only thing that the website development company delivered was a good homepage, which was absent the back-end interface. The platform was a complete mess and was unable to register any clients. Although the founder had built a small team of content developing freelancers, there was not a single client who could approach them. ScriptBaron failed!
Meanwhile, a small team comprising of IIT Kanpur students were searching for start-ups who would participate in their annual business fest. The entrepreneurs were to pitch their ideas to investors- who would then fund the most eligible startups. Somewhere, in the small team, was a first-year B-Tech student, who somewhere in the depths of Google found the homepage of ScriptBaron. Maybe, because of his inexperience in identifying successful startups, the student placed a call to the founder of ScriptBaron to participate in the competition. The company had already failed, but the founder didn’t want to miss the opportunity. The founder conveyed to the IIT Kanpur team, that he would pitch about another start-up idea which he had, and was way better than ScriptBaron, and somehow the team agreed. A week was provided to the entrepreneurs to submit their pitch, but the founder of ScriptBaron was absent any idea.
Bhubaneswar is one of the most famous handicraft clusters in the eastern belt of the country. Based in Bhubaneswar, the founder prepared a pitch for the creation of an online platform for selling handicrafts. It was a simple idea, unworthy of praise or funding. As the investors listened to the presentation, they were not interested in providing any kind of funding, but a great many of them presented the founder with a host of ideas that he could build on, the primary ones of which were “authenticity” and “contemporariness”. Somehow the presentation ended in the top 15, and the founder came back and started working on the ideas with very little investment that he raised from family and friends.
The founder devoted more than five months contacting suppliers, photographing the products, writing the content, all by himself; and EthniCache was made online in February 2019. Just a couple of months after making the platform online, the city of Bhubaneswar was hit by the cyclone Fani in April, and a huge amount of inventory was destroyed. Further, the power outage and disruption in logistics brought the platform to a standstill. As the services were resumed after a month, the platform was again made online, only to be hit by the Covid-19 Pandemic a year later.
In a period of one year, for which the platform was made live, there were two prominent kinds of people who contacted the company. The first kind were small home-based craftsmen, who wanted their creations to be featured on an online platform. The second kind were people who wanted customizations in their products - mostly jewellery and other accessories. Thus, along with “authenticity” and “contemporariness”, “customizations” was also adopted as a major goal of the company. The company started taking in small household craftsmen as third-party vendors, who could list their creations directly on the platform. The craftsmen apart from listing their products could also bring about customizations to their products, making them more in-line with the requirements of the customers. Several vendors have listed their products on the platform, and many others have already approached to list their future products, including some acclaimed fashion designers.
Presently, EthniCache is a part of Start-Up India and Start-Up Odisha programs and is incubated with AIC BIMTECh. Meanwhile, the insanity continues!!!