Saurav is one of the finest professionals with expertise in Analytical thinking, presentation, understanding latest trends, business process and outsourcing. After completing his post-graduation in marketing, he started his career as a functional consultant. Gradually he polished his skills and moved up ranks gaining credible experience. While working as VP, business process excellence, he helped setting up a business process management system for one of the largest F&A deals won by Genpact.
Soon he started to mull the idea of launching his own venture. This was the starting point of Stylofie. It is a two-sided online marketplace, for the beauty and wellness industry. They are transforming how consumers discover, choose and consume beauty services while helping our beauty/salon partners grow their business.
Please provide a brief overview of your product/ service.
Stylofie is an online marketplace for beauty and wellness centers. We offer consumers the convenience of booking their beauty/wellness appointment online, discover & compare rate cards of salons near them, read up reviews – ratings of consumers and get amazing pre-negotiated discounts ranging from 10-50%. All the mass premium outlets & chains are listed on our platform. We started in Gurgaon in Sep, 2015, expanded to Bangalore through our acquisition (Hyve) in Jan 2016 and now we are set to launch our services in rest of Delhi/ NCR.
What inspired you to build the above product/ service?
There was a visible gap in the market – beauty & wellness is intrinsic to people, yet the discovery process was clearly broken & the pricing was opaque. Added to the mix was the fact that there was no pan-India player trying to organize the beauty market. We clearly saw a white space & decided to test our hypothesis in the Gurgaon market. There are a few competitors who have mushroomed in this space, quite a few people saw this opportunity like us, but we clearly differentiate ourselves from the pack with our unique business model.
What is your life mantra?
Life is too short. Make the most of it.
What was the most challenging part of your journey till now?
There were 2 tough challenges. The 1st one was to quit my regular day job – I was a Vice President in Genpact, with a good pay and an interesting job. Convincing my wife was easy, but my parents thought that I had gone nuts to give up my job & start-up. The second challenge was to get the first set of beauty service providers onto the platform. The beauty industry has been primarily offline and to convince them of our value proposition was tough. One of the providers, after a lot of convincing agreed to list with us – with a unique condition – we should have an exclusive partnership with his chain only. We politely declined.
How did you overcome those challenges?
The onboarding supplier was a challenge for us in our early days. What worked in our favor was our unique business model and a strong value proposition that solved their problem. We focused on the big names in the industry – we knew that they would be the toughest to convince but if we could get them on board then the rest will follow. Our perseverance & belief in our strategy paid off. We were also lucky to have a great team working on this – co-founders Prateek & Balaji as well as our 1st set of employees – Puneet & Atul.
We started the bootstrap way – putting in all our life’s savings in the start-up. Last Nov we got seed funding to the tune of US $250k from an HK-based firm.
Share some details about the investments that you have been able to fetch for the business till now.
We started the bootstrap way – putting in all our life’s savings in the start-up. Last Nov we got seed funding to the tune of US $250k from an HK-based firm. the team is free to decide which suppliers should be on-boarded in our platform. We also have a unique practice – everybody in the office has lunch together. We eat more from other people’s lunch boxes than our own
How do you protect yourself from the problem of Brain Drain?
It has been 7 months since we hired our 1st employee. Touchwood, we haven’t lost a single team member since then – it is 0% attrition. I spend almost 30-40% of my time hiring. We hire for cultural fit and attitude rather than skills only. The secret sauce to our culture is empowerment. Our customer delight officers are empowered to take decisions, whenever there is a customer problem. Our BD team is free to decide which suppliers should be on-boarded in our platform. We also have a unique practice – everybody in the office has lunch together. We eat more from other people’s lunch boxes than our own
According to you, what are the three qualities an individual must have to achieve success?
Hunger, humility, and hard work.
Which online tools/ services/ apps do you use the most and would like to recommend as well?
Two of my favorite apps are Bookmyshow & Zomato. The world would have been a different place if Google wasn’t there.
Share any one habit which you think makes you more productive.
I have been using an excel To-Do list for the last 10 years now. It is my daily/weekly planner – helps me keep focused & provides a sense of accomplishment as I tick off my completed tasks.
Share any one habit which you wish to change in yourself.
I don’t like bargaining for price. More often than not, I look at value delivered rather than the cost price. Sometimes, I end up paying more because of this.
Answer in less than 50 words
The journey & the crew is more important than the outcome. Success is just a bye product of the journey.
- One mistake you believe every individual must avoid:
Avoiding making mistakes is one mistake that every individual should avoid.
- One most important lesson that you have learned until now:
Life is all about making choices. Our present is an outcome of the choices we have made in the past. Do not shy away from taking tough choices.
What are your plans for next 3 years?
We want to be the biggest aggregator of beauty & wellness services in the country. We think that over a period of time there would be 10 essential apps on a person’s phone and for beauty & wellness category, Stylofie should be the default app. We would take both organic and inorganic route to growth. Over the next year or so, we would be present in the Top cities of India and a few international ones as well.
If you get a chance to start your career again what would you do differently this time?
I would launch a start-up at the least a decade early. I am amazed at the entrepreneurship culture that is sweeping our country at this point in time. Today’s youth is fortunate that the start-up ecosystem has matured – there isn’t a more opportune time to be an entrepreneur than NOW.
What are your top three getaway destinations?
Goa, Las Vegas & Jamshedpur (my home town)
Share a quote that inspires you the most.
I heard this quote in Steve Job’s commencement speech at Stanford: “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish”.