Chat with a Young & Dynamic Woman Startupreneur – Sambhavi Sinha, Founder of ShopMate
I feel privileged to able to do something where my passion lies, that is, making people’s lives easier by providing a one-stop solution for buyers and sellers alike through ShopMate.
You must have witnessed lots of best deal offers on online portals. However, do you really find them to be the best? Or do you feel they’re still overpriced? Young Sambhavi Sinha, all of 24 years, founded ShopMate, a Delhi-based ecommerce startup in June 2015 where online buyers can find a variety of products and know the best offers available on them.
To be clear, ShopMate is not your regular price comparison portal. The startup brings a unique concept of Expression of Interest (EOI) to give value to both buyers and sellers. If a buyer is not satisfied with the price, he can simply save an EOI for the product. Here is where ShopMate plays its role. Within four hours, the startup will negotiate a better price from the sellers and get back to the customer. ShopMate avails the discounts from the seller by leveraging the number of EOIs on a product. More the number of EOIs, the lower the price. Buyers have the option of picking up the products or getting it delivered. Initially, ShopMate was just offering mobiles and tablets. Now, it is into two wheelers and computers as well.
What’s the Buzz?
ShopMate is just 6 months old; but still it has managed to carve a niche for itself in the ecommerce market. However, ShopMate is not just an ecommerce platform, it’s a concept. ShopMate is a Pioneer in ‘Group Buying in India’.
Ques. How does it feel to be an entrepreneur at such a young age? How did you get the entire understanding of business?
Ans. It feels great to be an entrepreneur at such a young age. It’s like a dream come true. In the beginning, I was hesitant about starting my own business. However, having faith in my own idea made me strive to shape it into a reality. I spent a few months gaining an understanding of the business and doing market research, which helped me establish and give direction to ShopMate.
Ques. Where did the idea of ShopMate germinate?
Ans. I was always keen on doing something on my own. Ecommerce is a big market in India. It is a completely different scenario as compared to the US ecommerce market. I thought something could be done with it, but something different, keeping in mind the Indian consumer behavior. After I graduated from the US, I returned to India with a business idea of offering ‘online to offline’ facility to the Indian consumers. All I wanted was to offer convenience to the buyers and empower sellers out here.
Ques. How was your experience in raising funds from your friends and family?
Ans. It was a good learning experience. Fortunately, my family and friends were very supportive of the idea. After I received my seed funding, I felt confident to go ahead and make this idea into a reality. For me, this funding was hugely encouraging. Now, ShopMate is in very close talks with investors and we should be hearing some good news soon.
Ques. Can you elaborate more about ShopMate? (things we have missed highlighting in our news & you want the readers to know about it)
Ans. Actually, you have covered the news really well backed by in-depth research. But to elaborate further I would like to say that ShopMate promotes the ‘Group Buying Concept’. We are a pioneer of such a concept in India. ShopMate highlights the ‘Power of Togetherness’ and only if this happens, sellers are able to bid at their level best for the products that you wish to buy.
We charge 3-5% of the offer price as a token booking amount from the customer and pass on the amount to the sellers to be adjusted in the final purchase. Rest of the amount the customer pays directly to the seller. ShopMate works on a commission-based revenue model, commission being 2-3% that is charged from the sellers.
Ques. Do you wish to share some achievements with our readers?
Ans. ShopMate is just 6 months old and we have successfully managed to bring over 500 sellers from all over Delhi- NCR onto our platform. As mentioned earlier, we are also in close talks with investors. Something should materialize soon which we will disclose at the right moment. Our concept has been accepted in the Indian ecommerce market, what else can we ask for?
Ques. What marketing strategies do you adopt to promote ShopMate?
Ans. Initially, we were just dependent on social media marketing. Later, I realized that we need to do something apart from these traditional methods of marketing as our concept is not just traditional ecommerce. Something that reaches the masses and focuses on groups. So, we started approaching communities by conducting activities for them. We arranged activities in societies, colleges and universities. Our target audience is students from universities and colleges as well as members of residential societies. I believe that if you strike the right target group and offer the right thing, you can excel, irrespective of the kind of business you are doing.
Ques. How is the task of negotiating prices with the dealers? Is it still tough or a cake-walk? How do you negotiate for your customers?
Ans. It wasn’t as tough as I’d thought. Sellers were also eager to go online to compete effectively with their online counterparts and gain access to online customers. Ecommerce portals have posed a new challenge for offline sellers. They see ‘ShopMate’ as a solution to overcome their challenge and get additional footfalls. We are delighted to be a boon for the offline sellers. Negotiations come from bulk buying.
Ques. What challenges have you faced in the budding stage? How have you dealt with them?
Ans. Initially, we saw marketing as the greatest challenge. Earlier, like other ecommerce portals, we used to market ShopMate’s products and highlight on social media the discounts on offer. However, it was not working out, we were getting some sales but people still didn’t know what we do. I was not satisfied. We had to do something out-of-the-box. Later, I realized that we need to market ‘ShopMate’ as a concept of group buying and availing bulk discounts. With branding and concept awareness, we are experiencing a difference in people’s perception of us.
Ques. What is your take on ‘Women entrepreneurship’ in the Indian startup ecosystem? (You can mention the positive as well as negative side of it)
Ans. Women are now on the forefront of every kind of business and industry. The Indian startup system is no exception. At the initial stage I faced apprehensions and hesitations. But I just had conviction in my idea and I desperately wanted to establish my business. Later, I realized that underestimating my ability just because of my gender would not get me anywhere. With this belief, came the confidence to do something on my own.
Ques. Is India a lucrative market for ecommerce business? If not, then point out the loopholes.
Ans. Of course, India is a lucrative market for ecommerce business. It’s a booming and competitive industry. There are no loopholes as such since it’s growing day by day. Market study says that Indians are accepting online businesses since they are convenient and provide on-demand services. All you need to do is target the right audience.
Ques. What are your future plans? (both, short and long term)
Ans. Expansion is our future plan, along with extending the range of products that we offer. By end of this month, ShopMate will bring electronic products on board and by the end of August, users can purchase cars from our platform as well.
Ques. Three things that you would like to address to aspiring women entrepreneurs.
- Come up with something unique
- Believe in your idea
- Do extensive market research
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