Rohin Samtaney is the co-founder and director of thesouledstore, a unique online marketplace that not only sells backpacks, tees, bags etc. but also brings like-minded people closer. The idea of creating thesouledstore came when four friends felt tired of 9-9 exertion and wanted to do something more than their exhausting job. Rohin was a financial analyst at that time and working in the same firm with his friends who are presently the co-founders of thesouledstore.
Rohin Samtaney, the engineer turned into entrepreneur along with his two more friends eventually to found a business that could give platform to artists. Rohin is a curious soul who contributes to thesouledstore with his innovation and passion. There is lot to his journey and business goals; Yo Success inquired all of it and found this inspirational story for you. Here is an interview with Rohin Samtaney.
Please provide a brief overview of your product/ service.
The Souled Store is an online store that provides independent artists a platform to showcase and monetize their creativity. We are more than just a website or an organization. We are a community of like-minded people getting together and expressing ourselves through our work. We aim to support independent artists- every time you buy from us, we give a royalty to the artist who created the design.
In a short span of time, we have managed to provide a wide range of products which include t-shirts, boxer shorts, tote bags, backpacks, wall art, notebooks, mugs, coasters, badges, and stickers. We are continuously experimenting and have many more products in the pipeline. Our target audience is the Indian youth of ages 18-28.
We also have a Bulk & Corporate division where we aim to get associated with events/ agencies that a brand like ours can represent. In the past, we have been associated with music festivals such as the Bacardi NH7 Weekender which is managed by OML (Only Much Louder), Enchanted Valley Carnival (EVC), artist management agencies such as Krunk and Mixtape, comedy acts such as AIB (All India Bakchod), music bands which include the likes of Pentagram, Scribe, Indus Creed, Providence, Gutslit, Madboy/ Mink and many more.
We have also tied up with schools/ colleges where we help them make and sell their merchandise for their students, alums, committees, festivals etc. and strengthen the bond that most of us have for our alma maters.
The most recent addition to our website is the Make Your Tee feature. We’ve received numerous requests from customers who have wanted to make their own customized t-shirts for gifting or for occasions such as birthdays, bachelor/ette parties. Make Your Tee provides an easy-to-use interface for customers to make a t-shirt design on the website and place an order for it immediately.
What inspired you to build the above product/ service?
The name has been inspired from what we were feeling at the time we decided to start this company. We were at that age where we had to choose our career paths and figure things out. We realized the corporate job was not for us and we wanted to do more than just be a cog in someone else’s wheel. It was then that we knew we had to quit and start something that we would love doing for the rest of our lives. This would probably mean leaving conventional logic behind and just following our ‘souls’.
What was the most challenging part of your journey till now?
Name an obstacle and we’ve faced it. We’re sure if you ask any startup, they’ll say the same. But all problems have a solution and we’ve fortunately tended to figure them out.
The first challenge was to actually take the leap and quit our jobs. There is still a lot of social stigma attached to it, and a lot of people will tell you how it’s a bad decision. They’d probably wait for your business to go through a rough patch to say, “I told you so”. In fact, there may be a hundred reasons to not do it. But what’s important is the one reason to.
The biggest hurdle we faced is the lack of professionalism or business ethics. The attitude of people that one has to deal with at times is very laid back. We faced delays, wrong or bad quality of products and some fraudulence along the way. It’s something that we didn’t expect. It’s something we hadn’t really been exposed to till then. It’s something we wouldn’t have done and wouldn’t expect others to.
How did you overcome those challenges?
The way around has been to just be better planned ourselves and always have a buffer and a contingency plan. We account for everything that can go wrong and keep checks at every point.
Share some details about the investments that you have been able to fetch for the business till now.
We are a completely bootstrapped startup and have not needed any funding post our initial investment.
We leveraged our knowledge from our financial background to set up a business with strong fundamentals and cash cycle which requires no working capital. This has allowed us to grow organically from a business that was started with a total inventory of 200 t-shirts running out of a small cabin, to a business with an inventory of 20,000 t-shirts that is run out of a couple of offices in Bombay. Financially, we have the potential to grow 50% month on month without any additional capital inflow.
Given that the business model and the idea have been proven, we’re all set to expand even more rapidly which is why we’re now actively looking for external funding.
Which online tools/ services/ apps do you use the most and would like to recommend as well?
Share any one habit which you wish to change in yourself.
Avoid trying to do too many things at a time and concentrate on one.
Answer in less than 50 words
One tip to success:
Always stay humble. The day you start thinking you’re better than everybody else, you’ll start losing the plot and eventually falter.
One most important lesson that you have learnt till now:
Nothing comes easy. But if you keep at it, you’ll eventually always figure it out.
What are your plans for next 3 years?
We aim to be a brand that is associated with today’s youth. A brand whose design and feel is premium yet the products are affordable.
Our aim in the next 3 years is to offer an extensive range of products and cater to a wider demographic. We aim to introduce new products every 2-3 months and display artwork with unexplored themes.
As our focus has always been on the artist, we plan to have 1000+ artists from around the world by 2017. There is immense potential to be tapped and we want to be the stepping stone for all these artists. We also want to start a portal soon where artists can come, interact with one another and collaborate to create interesting work. We plan to host art exhibitions/ events as well and showcase a variety of artwork which should be out there for the world to see.
Through our internship program we plan to have a representative in all major schools and colleges in our country. Besides the learning and experience, we incentivize these interns through a commission based model. This not only gets us recognition and sales for the online store but also bulk orders for festival and school merchandise.
Share a quote that inspires you the most.
“Eventually all things fall into place. Until then, laugh at the confusion, live for the moments, and know everything happens for a reason.” – Albert Schweitzer