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Pinterest: The Founding Story

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Evan Sharp, Ben Silbermann and Paul Sciarra, the founders of Pinterest weren’t child prodigies. They weren’t being chased down the Wall Street by investors. They weren’t being hounded by potential take over bids. In fact, when they started out, no one really liked them. Raised by doctors, Ben Silbermann figured he would follow the same path as his parents. He even went on to study medicine at Yale Univeristy. However, he realised very soon that medicine wasn’t his passion or dream.

Pinterest officially came to be in the year 2010. Three months after, the online image sharing platform only had around 3,000 registered accounts. In the world of social media boom, the 3,000 users wasn’t a commendable number. However, Silbermann capitalized on these users and focused on a model which helped Pinterest grow into the phenomenon it is today.

In a lot of ways, Pinterest was the exact opposite of Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat, everything which was hot at the time. Unlike these platforms, Pinterest focused on curating only images and not on real time content. One of the major reasons this image platform became such a huge success was that in the beginning, the users would hold regular meetings with their limited users. While this in itself was an unusual practice, what helped the platform grow was the online network’s ability to absorb the changes given by their users.

Pinterest also started a new campaign called Pin It Forward. According to this, users could create a pinboard and get more invites by getting friends to create pinboards. One of the major reasons for Pinterest’s outstanding leap to success is the company’s constant work at connecting with its users. They spoke to them on a regular basis and this connect helped form a strong bond even eight years after the platform launched.

What started off as a hobby for Ben Silberman, turned into a full time occupation for more than a 100 million users around the world. While Pinterest’s growth was rocky in the beginning, the company took off with a bang and according to several trade analysts, the online image sharing and buying platform is on its way to surpass existing giants like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram!

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Entrepreneur Stories

Big Basket Founding Story And Its Recipe For Success

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Much before Flipkart tapped into the retail industry, a group of people (V.S. Sudhakar, Hari Menon, V.S. Ramesh, Vipul Parekh and Abhinay Choudhary,)  fuelled with passion and experience on failure post the dot com bubble founded Big Basket, the country’s first online shopping platform which revolutionised the way people bought groceries. Just like how this platform is unique in every way, the story of how Big Basket came to be is also quite a tale.

The beginning 

When you hear of startups being created by people below the age of 30 and with no experience, your heart usually goes out to them. However, when you look at people on the other side of 50, with more experience in failing than succeeding, trying to start something new, you wonder what the future looks like for them. When the dot com bubble bust, a lot of people struggled hard to find their footing in an increasingly competitive world.

The founders of Big Basket, on the other hand, decided to use the experience they got post the failure and decided to create a website that hasn’t been done  before. The five founders of this platform had their first experience in the e commerce side when they created Fabmart.com (an online platform to sell books, toys and groceries) in the year 1999. Very quickly, however, they realised not just India, but the rest of the world wasn’t ready for the online world yet.

Very soon, Fabmart merged with a brick and mortar grocery chain and by 2006, the founders sold Fabmart for a lump sum. By 2011, the team thought of revaluating and trying their hand at something new again and despite all the criticism they received for this idea, the founders decided if they had to do anything, the time was now. It was a good thing they made this call because it was exactly at this time that the smartphone boom was happening and literally everything was available with the click of a button (except for groceries, of course!)

The journey to success

Post securing the first round of investment ($ 10 million from Ascent Capital,) the Big Basket team decided the time had come to expand its reach. In a country as diverse as India, perhaps the biggest challenges an online delivery platform like this faces is to ensure they sustain the model despite all adversities. After putting in dedicated research for five years, the Big Basket team realised the best way to make their presence felt was by providing personalised service to people across all cities.

With shopping habits varying from city to city, one of the major reasons for the success rates of Big Basket is the amount of attention to detail the founders paid. From increasing the leafy greens numbers in Mumbai to supplying a special kind of rice (called Sona Masoori) in Bangalore to going so far as to provide eight different kinds of eggplants to picky customers, Big Basket ensured their quality was nothing short of perfection. To improve the customers experience, the team ensures near time perfect deliveries in most of its orders and if by chance the delivery has been delayed, customers get a discount depending on the delay.

The future 

Despite growing as well as they had, Big Basket still had a lot of tough competition in the forms of other startups like LocalBanya, Sequoia backed PepperTap and SoftBank funded Grofers. The time had come for the team to up its game by securing more than double the amount of funding that it got during the initial rounds, Big Basket crushed all its competition.

The next few years saw Big Basket grow from just an idea to being present in 25 cities with a combination of 150 million and looking at the size of the growth, the founders decided the time had come to bring in a partner. By zeroing in on Alibaba (China based e commerce platform,) the team worked on mapping a growth chart for the next two years!

Big Basket is not just a dream but a well thought out plan that attracted and made its presence felt in the larger cities and went on to grow in the smaller cities by on boarding Shah Rukh Khan as a brand ambassador. By investing money into getting warehouses and increasing the delivery output, Big Basket plans on not only retaining its post as the largest grocery delivery platform in India but all over the world as well!

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Airbnb Unknown Facts

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Airbnb, which started off as a way to find a means to pay rent by Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, is now one of the most valued startups in the world. An ingenious idea for solving the rent paying gaps, Airbnb now has more than three million listings, with a strong presence in over 65,000 cities and 191 countries. While the growth of this particular startup has been quite clearly mapped, there are still more than just a few things one doesn’t know about Airbnb. Check out the facts here!

1. The cities in which Airbnb is popular

According to a recent survey, with more than 78,000 rentals on Airbnb’s platform, Paris ranks number one on the list of people using Airbnb in the world. The next on the list of the largest users is the U.K. (47,000) and following closely after, is New York, with 46,000 users. Interestingly, the top 6 out of the ten cities which use Airbnb the most are located out of Europe!

2. The founding story

The initial funds for Airbnb were raised by selling breakfast foods based on creating special breakfast cereals called Obama O’s’ and ‘Cap’n McCain’s. At the time Airbnb was launched, the breakfast foods were created based on the 2008 U.S. Presidential Elections (when Obama and John McCain contested against each other for the first time.) Selling each box for $ 40, the marketing plan was so successful, they raised close to $ 30,000!

3. The smallest house was listed on Airbnb

Did you know, the smallest house in the world was not a privately owned house, but was listed on Airbnb? Located in Berlin, Germany, the one square meter house was waterproof and built for housing just one person. A rental on wheels, the house included a bed, a desk and a chair and cost one euro a night! This house format became so popular, it was recreated for users in Boston and Massachusetts as well!

4. The history behind the logo

While to the casual observer, the signature Airbnb logo may look like an upside down heart, the truth behind the logo is quite different. Officially named the Bélo, the name of the logo origins from the word ‘belong’ and is designed to resemble the pin used on a map. With a theme of connecting people from all over the world and creating a global community, the logo of Airbnb signifies community building.

5. Celebrities listed on Airbnb

If you ever wondered what  it would feel like to live in the house of a celebrity, then find your favourite celebrity’s home on Airbnb! From Elizabeth Taylor to Kevin Jonas and to Frank Sinatra’s hold house, Airbnb has a large number of really cool people’s homes on its website! Interestingly, despite being the largest provider of online listings, Airbnb has no official office to its name!

With over a decade of being present in the hospitality industry, Airbnb really changed the way people travel and live. If you think we missed out on any other points about Airbnb, comment and let us know!

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Pepperfry – How An Idea Became A Fortune Spinner

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Remember the early days when shopping for furniture was an arduous and painful task? Now, however, thanks to the founders of Pepperfry, the days of trudging through narrow roads and haggling for cheap furniture are a thing of the past. Founded by Ambareesh Murty and Ashish Shah, the idea of launching an online store came over a lunch which changed the way people bought furniture online.

The beginning

When Murty and Shah met at a mutual friend’s office over lunch, the duo realised they were all working on addressing a major gap in the industry: the absence of one platform catering to all your lifestyle needs. A tissue paper turned out to be the piece of paper where plans for the future of Pepperfry were carefully sketched out. Back then, the platform didn’t focus on just furniture, but had a wide array of categories, ranging over products like jewelry, fashion and clothes.

While the idea was written and the team was ready to hit the ground running, the initial round of funding of $ 5 million from Norwest didn’t come in till almost 6 months after signing the deal. The months when the funds didn’t come in were extremely nerve wracking for the founders. The team of ten were running low on morale and the website was not launched yet. Things were so bad, the team were down to the last Rs. 10 lakhs and thought the time had come to give up all hope.

On the day the founders were almost ready to pull the plug on their relationship with Norwest, an investment came in, like a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day. With renewed hope and an influx of $ 5 million in cash, the founders of Pepperfry were all set to make a splash in the industry. Through the years, the team started growing in size and decided the time had come to narrow down to just one specific line: furniture.

The future

By the time the team started growing and making an impact, the furniture industry had not started blooming. One of the major hurdles Pepperfry had to work over was to ensure the products people were ordering online had the exact specifications. If the specifications weren’t met to perfection, the team could lose existing, as well as perspective customers, resulting in a decline of income for the company. Perhaps one of the things which sets Pepperfry apart is, Pepperfry isn’t a search driven website, but is more focused on improving the user’s browsing experience. Further, by focusing primarily on in house logistics, the Pepperfry team reduced the delivery time drastically (from 25 days to 11 days.) In Mumbai, the team worked to bring down the time of delivery to same day delivery! By developing a logistics algorithm for the delivery vehicles, the Pepperfry team can locate whether the truck has delivered the furniture on time or not.

While initially catering only to the online market, Pepperfry branched out to include the offline customers as well and by 2014, the Company opened its stores across India. Today, this startup accounts for more than 50 % of the furniture industry’s market share and by looking at its growth chart, Pepperfry has no plans of stopping any time soon!

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