A  perfect case!

A perfect case!

Kapil Hetamsaria of Velvetcase.com, which recently designed and manufactured the Indian Premier Tennis League trophy, wants to disrupt the online jewellery world through a deep focus on customer-centricity

POORNIMA KAVLEKAR

KAPIL HETAMSARIA, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO, VELVETCASE.COM

“Globally, the fine jewellery segment is a US $220 billion industry and India alone is at US $45 billion. And the online medium is just a few percentage points of the overall market,” says Kapil Hetamsaria, co-founder and CEO of Velvetcase.com, very matter-of-factly.  On this premise, he and co-founder Runit Shah, incorporated Velvetcase.com, a global online platform for custom and designer jewellery, in 2012. However, the important question that the Velvetcase.com team is looking to answer is what is the value that consumers derive from them?  With an intention of breaking into a market which is traditionally run by families, the team came up with a differentiation; that of being consumer centric and bringing in a wide array of global designs.

Bootstrapped during the early days, the company has come a long way since its inception in 2012. “We are growing 3X over a 12 to 18 month period. In December, we will be shipping out 1,000 units which is our highest so far,” says Hetamsaria. With a team size of 23, it currently houses over 45,000 designs from over 28 designers across the world. The company ships to eight countries and plans to increase this number to have more of a global impact. In recent events, Velvetcase.com received funding to the tune of Rs. 6 crore from various angel investors including some investors from The Chennai Angels.

Surprisingly, what we found today is that consumers are willing to give you a chance, if you solve a problem and if you are genuine.

Understanding the dynamics

“Fine jewellery is one of the only two asset classes (other being real estate), where people enjoy the asset and the asset appreciates in value,” opines Hetamsaria. This sector has been traditionally governed by (and still is) family businesses with not much innovation or disruption happening here. The founding duo saw this as an opportunity to create something fundamentally new. Typically, jewellery has been very product driven but Velvetcase.com is a consumer centric company.  “This business is about selling products and clearing out inventory. We are a zero inventory company,” he declares.  The company also partners with designers across the world and gives them a platform to build their online business.

Velvetcase.com makes good use of technology to imitate the touch and feel element that is missing online. Once it receives an order, it ships a 3D printed structure of any product. This gives the consumer the actual feel of the product. Explaining this, Hetamsaria says, “If a consumer orders a ring, we create that in software, print it into 3D and ship it to him/her. This is a big advantage for us as it creates brand value while making the consumer far more comfortable with the purchase.” Once the final purchase is made it delivers the products within 10 days.

Changing it up

The company is an online platform for custom-made internationally designed jewellery aggregated from designers across the world. It gives its consumers flexibility and empowers them with the tool to get what they want without having to choose from what is available.  “While the consumer chooses the design, the costing is based on the commodities that go into making it,” explains Hetamsaria. In other words, the same design can be made at different costs. The entrepreneur claims its products are almost 40 to 50 per cent cheaper than the pricing of similar products through other platforms.

Commenting about the consumer psyche, Hetamsaria says, “Surprisingly, what we found today is that consumers are willing to give you a chance, if you solve a problem and if you are genuine.” But the big challenge is it takes time to build this trust in a brand. And for Velvetcase.com that came from the quality of consumer service. “We don’t invest in products. That’s dead stock for us. We invest a lot in the consumer care and educate our consumer care team,” he says. This has helped the company connect with consumers and provide the necessary trust factor.

As is the case with every company, as it grows, it faces different set of challenges. Consistent delivery of products within a stipulated time and building the entire supply chain were two challenges Velvetcase.com faced during its early days. Now as it establishes scale, finding good people with the right attitude, mindset and capability is not easy either. “This was not our challenge a year and half ago,” observes Hetamsaria.

Channeling for growth

The company was recently funded to the tune of Rs.6 crore from various angel investors. These funds will go towards building a technology platform that is truly delightful for Gen-Y consumers. The company wants to make it easy for the consumer to discover, share and then possibly transact through Velvetcase.com. “We don’t think of the Internet as a medium to trade. We are going to use technology as a way to empower trading,” comments Hetamsaria. This apart, despite the number of designs on its portal, what matters is giving the consumer options that are relevant to them.  It is also spending towards marketing and in-sourcing designers to get on board.

The company encourages its users to create their own design. For example, it recently had a couple reaching out to make finger printed engagement rings.  “We are an online portal with no physical contact with consumers yet spotting a trend is easy for us,” opines Hetamsaria.  He believes that Velvetcase.com does identify trends much earlier than what a regular jeweler does and possibly even a few designers do. Citing the finger printed ring as an example Hetamsaria says that such requests tell you a lot about where the consumer is heading. Simultaneously, the company works with multiple designers and it is easier to understand a designer’s thought process when he/she starts working on new concepts.

Growing the market 

Word-of-mouth and referrals are two very strong marketing channels for Velvetcase.com apart from co-promotion with designers. It also invests in digital marketing through social media and other means.

Another very significant move by the company is creating the trophy for the international premier tennis league (IPTL) conducted recently. “This first of its kind trophy was designed and manufactured by us. It is heavier than the ICC world cup and is something that shows our craftsmanship and experience,” says a proud Hetamsaria. The trophy weighs 14.4 kilograms and is studded with diamonds and gemstones. The company’s designers in Milan and Mumbai designed this trophy. He wants to pursue such strategies offline as it reaches a broader audience globally.

“India will continue to be a main market that we will continue to grow in with the U.S. being second,” declares Hetamsaria. The company has a market across the country and gets a sizeable chunk of its revenue from the eight countries it ships to. It has tie-ups with logistics players and high value couriers to deliver its products which are 100 per cent insured. It offers free shipping within India and for international locations it levies a shipping charge.

“The fact that we are global actually makes it easier for us to expand. When you get 100 designers on board, you have covered a huge amount of variety of designs and will be able to attract people across the world,” states Hetamsaria.  With its strategies in place, Velvetcase.com has set itself a revenue target of US $300 million in the next five years.


Snapshot

VELVETCASE.COM

Founders: Kapil Hetamsaria

Year: 2012

Funding: Rs. 6 crore from various angels including The Chennai Angels

Revenue: Reach RS $300 million in five years.

Concept: An online platform for custom-made internationally designed jewellery aggregated from designers across the world

Ecommerce Indian Premier Tennis League Online Jewellery The Chennai Angels Velvetcase.com

Poornima Kavlekar has been associated with The Smart CEO since the time of launch and is the Consulting Editor of the magazine. She has been writing for almost 20 years on a cross section of topics including stocks and personal finance and now, on entrepreneurship and growth enterprises. She is a trained Yoga Teacher, an avid endurance Cyclist and a Veena player.