Kapil Hetamsaria did his BE in Mechanical Engineering from University of Mumbai. Later, he went to pursue MBA in Finance, Strategy, and Entrepreneurship from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Over the years, he has accumulated vast experience by working for companies like Dell Inc, McKinsey & Co, Microsoft, and more.
After returning from US, Kapil went shopping with his wife for a piece of jewellery and upon visiting the best known jewellers in the city, she was still not 100% happy. She wanted a personalized design and thus, to bring the need for a professional jeweller who a modern, working woman could visit and get customized Jewellery, VelvetCase was born.
Please provide a brief overview of your product/ service.
Since the start of VelvetCase in 2012, we have had a unique and different approach to the business – we follow a ‘consumer back’ rather than the traditional ‘product forward’ model. The ability to give a single consumer the kind of relevant design breadth that they deserve, right from the comfort of their home is what sets us apart. Our disruptive approach in leveraging technology to rapidly create the country’s largest marketplace has, in a short period of time, created a platform that showcases jewellery from over 150 new designers and jewelers globally and allows us access to close to 700 leads monthly. The aspiration is to offer maximum choice to a consumer in terms of variety, visual appeal and overall experience.
What inspired you to build the above product/ service?
Upon returning from the US – I went shopping with my wife for a piece of jewellery. And upon visiting among the best known jewelers in the city, she was still not 100% happy. In almost all the designs she saw, she wanted to personalize / customize the design – either with a different colour of gold or a different quality of diamond, or something else. And this was not something any jeweler was willing to do – they were interested in selling what they have since they wanted to turn over their inventory. This experience brought to light the need for a professional jeweler who a modern, working woman could visit and get what she really wanted.
I then studied a lot of different companies across verticals – think about how Dell transformed the PC industry and gave the customer the exact configuration they wanted in their laptop or Raymond’s Made 2 Measure is giving a man a custom fit for their suit. If that was possible – why should this not be available to buyers of fine jewellery? The term used to describe this model is “mass customization” where each customer is treated as an individual and given what they really want. Thus was born VelvetCase!
Purpose of VelvetCase.com for coming up with WOSF?
To collaborate with all women-centric brands and get them under one roof.
What is your life mantra?
Be silly, be honest, be kind
What was the most challenging part of your journey till now?
Lots of them – from building a robust ‘zero inventory’ supply chain that can consistently deliver world-class products within a 7-10 day period to getting set up to export one piece at a time across to world to hiring the right team with the right attitude – everything required patience and persistence. Luckily, for us, customers welcomed the model with open arms, which has always been something we are forever grateful to our early adopters.
How did you overcome those challenges?
We started with very low expectations on the consumer adoption side; however to our pleasant surprise we actually got a pretty bipolar response – some consumers immediately took to the concept of professionalizing the jewellery industry – and were happy with a platform for fashion forward designs, our ability to customize, 100% certified jewellery and the advisory sell approach while other still took some convincing.
We expected trust and the touch & feel factor in the jewellery to be the biggest challenges in the sector. To counter these, we invested heavily in making our customer experience truly differentiating which resulted in building trust within consumers of the overall brand. We built a whole lot of processes for this, like trained Jewellery Designers guiding online purchases and shipping 3D printed jewellery to the customer all over the world before we sent them the actual product.
Share some details about the investments that you have been able to fetch for the business till now.
Having seen several startups closely through 15+ years of global experience, my co-founder and I bootstrapped VelvetCase at the start. We put in our own capital to grow the business for the first 12-15 months. In hindsight, this is probably one of the smartest things we did since it taught us to be frugal and extremely focused on only doing activities that were adding immediate value to the business. We have raised USD 1 mn from Chennai Angels and other prominent angels in the year 2014 including Anupam Mittal (Founder, Shaadi.com); Jacob Kurien (ex-COO, Tanishq); Jerry Rao and Arihant Patni.
How do you protect yourself from the problem of Brain Drain?
We have a 40-member team spread across the various functions of Marketing, Tech, Creative & Branding, Quality Control, Designer Success Managers, Finance and Logistics. We have always made an effort to foster an open, casual, collaborative, and fun environment, which is what works best in a start-up environment.
According to you, what are the three qualities an individual must have to achieve success?
Determination, hard work and an open mind
Which online tools/ services/ apps do you use the most and would like to recommend as well?
Linkedin, Google Drive & Buzzfeed
Share any one habit which you think makes you more productive.
Sticking to mt calender
Share any one habit which you wish to change in yourself.
I wish to travel more
Answer in less than 50 words
Stay focused and know what your goals are
- One mistake you believe every individual must avoid:
Being disrespectful towards others
- One most important lesson that you have learnt till now:
What you give is what you get.
What are your plans for next 3 years?
Over the next 3 years, we hope to be at a $100+ USD Million (Rs. 500 Crore plus) revenue with thousands of loyal VelvetCase customers feeling proud to be a part of creating India’s first global luxury brand. Similar to how Dell revolutionized the PC industry and Amazon created an e-commerce market, we will create a model for consumers to enjoy the jewellery they buy knowing well that it’s an investment they have made for their future.
Over this time, we want to be known as India’s first global consumer luxury brand specializing in high quality craftsmanship with transparent policies really making fine jewellery an asset class similar to real estate and the equity markets that people invest in for their future. The only advantage with jewellery is that people can enjoy wearing the same while their assets continue to appreciate.
How do you wish to carry out this initiative in future if it is an annual property?
We wish to continue it on a larger scale from next year onward.
Your expectation from the Event?
I’m really ecxited for the total outcome of this event. Expecting great sales for all our brand partners!
If you get a chance to start your career again what would you do differently this time?
I would have worked at a tech startup
What are your top three getaway destinations?
Goa, an obscure island in Thailand & US Virgin Islands
Share a quote that inspires you the most.
“Be stubborn on vision, but flexible on details.” – Jezz Bezos