Sidharth is known to be an enterprising person with an MBA from NMIMS, Mumbai specializing in Marketing. He has worked at Tata Consultancy Services for over three years and gained immense expertise in software development. He has worked on projects of software development, performance testing and support for JP Morgan Chase and Scottish Widows.
He stint at entrepreneurship came in the form of Cupshup, which he cofounded with Sanil Jain. It is a revolutionary new platform for advertising via teacups. They have collaborated with 2500+ Tea Vendors, 1000+ Offices, 300+ Colleges and two Leading Airlines and many prestigious clubs of Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, and Hyderabad. Not only that, they have also categorized the tea stalls on the basis of the point of Interest viz. Offices, Industries, IT Parks, manufacturing hub etc
Please provide a brief overview of your product/ service.
CupShup aims to convert the tea stalls of the country into discussion joints by advertising on the paper tea cups as well as branding the tea stall overall. This medium is clutter free, provides 5-7 minutes of exposure time and triggers discussion over tea breaks, which makes a deeper impression in customer’s mind. While advertising over TV, radio leaves an option to change the channel for customer, advertising over paper tea cups is bound to make an impression in customer’s mind.
Our unique model is helping brands in gaining access to cubicles and classroom of offices and colleges respectively. We have also tied up with two leading airlines of the country for in-flight promotion on the cups. We recently promoted Kotak Securities and OYO rooms in Indigo and GoAir pan India.
What inspired you to build the above product/ service?
During the MBA, I was having a cup of tea with friends at roadside tapri. We chatted about movies, politics for about 15 mins. It came to my mind that we just spent 15 minutes of our quality time which was relaxed, clutter free and the environment was fun filled. This is an ideal situation which a brand wants to promote itself. Thus, the idea dawned to me that what if we brand the teacups as well as tea stalls and convert the tea stalls into discussion joints.
In our last trimester of MBA at NMIMS, Mumbai, I opted for a course in entrepreneurship and started working on the CupShup idea. Since it was very difficult to get a small number of cups printed, I bought 100 cups, pasted stickers on them (Of a fabricated brand with an offer) and distributed it to my nearby tapri walas. I also designed some questions related to that creative and interviewed people after they finished the tea. The result of product validation survey was fantastic. Almost all of the people I talked with were able to recall the brand on the cup when asked (Although fabricated one) and had a fair idea of the offer printed. Thus, I established that this idea has the potential and brands will be attracted towards this idea for promotion. Soon after finishing my MBA, I shared my idea with Sanil Jain (Ex-Amazon), who was equally interested in this idea. Thus, we started our entrepreneurial journey.
What is your life mantra?
A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing really goes there.
What was the most challenging part of your journey till now?
We faced the following challenges while setting up CupShup:
Balancing our corporate life and entrepreneurship: When we started CupShup, both of us were in our regular jobs. We were working 9-6 for our job and then 6 till post-midnight for CupShup.
To map the entire city so that we can come up with the right set of tea vendors for our clients was the main hurdle. A tea stall was frequented by a different type of people and the type of the majority of them would interest the brands. Thus, a tea vendor, which is outside IT Park, will appeal to a brand looking to target working population while a tea vendor outside colleges will appeal to brand targeting students.
Entry into offices: Initially offices in corporate parks were reluctant to give us entry into their buildings as they were skeptical of the quality of paper being used by us. However, with time they came to know that we only use top quality food grade ink and biodegradable recyclable paper which is best in industry. This allayed their concerns and helped us accessing the office cubicles.
Littering: No brand would like to see the cups of its brand littering on the sides of road. Thus while pitching to clients, this was their major concern that how would cupshup manage this problem. For this, we decided to supply brand new dustbins to all of the tea vendors where ever we run campaigns. This not only helped us in addressing the concern of littering but also helped tea vendors in keeping their stall clean as people used our dustbins to dispose the used cups.
How did you overcome those challenges?
Already explained along with challenges above
Share some details about the investments that you have been able to fetch for the business till now.
We are completely bootstrapped and profitable.
How do you protect yourself from the problem of Brain Drain?
We have HR policies in place which allows the delivery boys to avail leaves whenever required. We pay them daily allowances as per industry standards to retain them. We hold weekly meetings with employees and take them for parties every quarter to ensure that there is work life balance.
According to you, what are the three qualities an individual must have to achieve success?
- Hard Working
- Compassion towards its subordinates
- Ability to spot and retain talent
Which online tools/ services/ apps do you use the most and would like to recommend as well?
We use our own internal application for delivery and monitoring. Other than that, we use generic tools like Google Drive, Zoho mail, and Microsoft office.
Share any one habit which you think makes you more productive.
Getting up early in the morning.
Share any one habit which you wish to change in yourself.
I would like to prioritise my work going forward than approaching them on a random basis.
Answer in less than 50 words
- One mistake you believe every individual must avoid:
Procrastinating the work.
- One most important lesson that you have learned until now:
What are your plans for next 3 years?
Future Plans – Our aim is to establish a cordial relationship with the tea vendors by providing them incentives and using their platform to connect brands with its target audience. We aim to convert the tea stalls of the entire country into discussion joints for brands.
If you get a chance to start your career again what would you do differently this time?
I would start the entrepreneurial journey early in my life.
What are your top three getaway destinations?
Not much of a traveler.
Share a quote that inspires you the most.
“The comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing really grows there.”