The journey of Mr Karma Bhutia an entrepreneur, soccer player and Guitarist.
02nd, July 2017 - Featured entrepreneur
Can you tell us about your family background, hobbies, interest, and educational background?
My name is Karma Bhutia - founder & CEO of iShippo - My ethnic roots are in Sikkim - Yes - the 1st state in the country to be certified organic & Open Defecation Free (ODF) so you can imagine as a country boy studying, growing up in the clean & fresh mountain air. I'm currently based out of Bangalore. My journey has been travel-worthy; at least I would like to believe so. It's been filled with challenges, adventure & excitement.
As an entrepreneur I'm dedicated to identifying & solving problems that we face. I believe we should leave things better than when we found it. I active engage in mentoring & motivating budding entrepreneurs.
I'm also the founder of Demi Solutions - https://www.demi.co.in - a tech consulting firm based in Sikkim.
I love soccer and I play the guitar.
How did Entrepreneurship bug enter your soul and how your first venture executed?
Entrepreneurship is really about perspective from an optics of a job-seeker to job-creator. In my opinion if you feel passionately about solving a problem and you feel it consuming you then that's the first step to entrepreneurship.
In my case I've been in the IT industry for over 2 decades. I've seen a lot in those years. In 2004 I co-founded an IT services company and by March 2015 my company got acquired. We had built a reputation for ourselves by building a lot of cool stuff for many established companies like Apple, HP, SAP, Dell & start-ups like Cleartrip, HolidayIQ, and TaxiForSure etc. My team and I had been providing IT services for over a decade and creating so much value for everybody else finally I thought that we could use that knowledge & wisdom to create something valuable & that's how iShippo.com started.
From Service venture in to product venture, how was your journey?
The journey has been incredible. There are just so many variables at play that it is impossible to create a winning formula right out of the gate. In its essence service is also a product which needs to be bought and sold. Hence, the core fundamentals remain the same. However, there are things that you need to do: you need to know your product, how you want to sell your product, marketing to create demand and execution to keep the entire supply chain lubricated. But it is really up to you on what you feel are the best ways to approach it, how you build, how you plan and how you execute to scale. You also need to listen to feedback and be open to changes – always.
We heard that you were about the build a logistic startup by it turned to be marketplace concept. How this transformation took place?
Initially we started out trying to solve the logistic challenge that prevails in our country but we quickly realized that there were many security & regulatory hurdles that needed to be resolved before we could open it up to the public and hence we pivoted into creating a marketplace for hand-crafted products because that was the market we were building the logistics for anyway. It still is an under-served market and we do have the right skills, tools and the execution prowess to impact this market.
iShippo.com, social enterprise helps local artisans to get the client and make good profit. How was the response from the market?
The response has been good. The handicrafts sector is important for the Indian economy as it is one of the largest employment generators and accounts for a significant share in the country's exports. The states and regional clusters that contribute significantly to handicrafts export. The Indian handicrafts industry is fragmented, with more than 7 million regional artisans and more than 67,000 exporters/export houses promoting regional art and craftsmanship in the domestic and global markets.
According to the provisional data available the exports of Handicrafts have shown an increase of `2091.26 crores, from `16989.51 to `19080.77 crores, which is an increase of 12.31%.
We have partnered with organizations like Central Cottage Industries Corporation (CCI), Digital empowerment Foundation (DEF), Craftmark, Indian Handloom, BanglaNatak, Rural Crafts Hub - West Bengal, Ministry of Textiles - Government of India in a very short span of time.
We have witnessed impact during the demonetization phase because most of the artisans in the handloom and handicraft sector are primarily from agricultural background. Most of the raw materials used are directly or indirectly related to agriculture so the sector has felt the impact. However the recent spate of states giving farmer's loan waivers is an effort to correct and remedy the situation in the sector. In the long term we are optimistic things will get better.
How did you raise funds and can you explain the difficulties you faced during the time.
The company is essentially bootstrapped & I've personally invested quite a bit. I also have contributions from family and friends. Having launched the operations and having partnered with Ministry of Textiles - Government of India, we have been tasked out with a huge mandate and will start raising funds to spruce growth and build fulfilment capacity.
Investors are attracted primarily at the business and what we are trying to do in the space that we operate in. We are an ambitious, motivated and gritty bunch of people, who are creating a business that will provide value to our stakeholders, sellers, buyers, artisans, designers and investors.
You are following Organic development in terms of growth; can you share your experience?
Unless you're experienced, know what you're doing and you're certain your business can succeed (and grow) you should not borrow a single dime.
Bootstrap – Use only a small amount of money and find a creative way to get your business going.
Being an entrepreneur your view point on Indian startup ecosystem. What would you advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
India needs to create 10 million jobs a year to keep its youthful demographic dividend engaged & global data shows that it is startups, not large enterprises that can create new jobs in any country. Startups are the centre of innovation and are a great way to foster employment generation in the economy. Startups bring technological enhancement to the country as it involves dealing with new technologies, new ideas, innovation and new ways of thinking.
Having said that, we also have to keep in mind that the world in changing. News of the US government putting strict regulations around H1B visas and we have learnt that 6 lakhs people in IT Industry alone will lose their jobs in the next 3 years are creating a more urgent need for entrepreneur to come forward to solve this problem. In my opinion the greatest problem to solve is this problem of unemployment/jobs/livelihood.
We also have to bear in mind that Automation, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics are destroying our jobs at an alarming pace.
So it's all the more necessary that we have to shift from to a nation of Job Creators from a nation of Job Seekers.
What it takes to become an entrepreneur is having passion, determination, and ability to learn and solve problems. There are so many resources available online that what you lack intuitively you can make up for by researching. The right attitude to have is to keep a curious mind.
You will probably have a bad week, month, or even quarter when starting. If you are only focused on the negative things you are probably going to sabotage your own success. I think it helps to create some type of time line or plan to help your progress. You also need to have realistic goals and expectations.
Keep fighting the good fight.
Website – www.iShippo.com
Facebook - iShippo
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