From being Jobless and sleepless to building a Rs.500 Crore Brand – How Ankit Garg is building Wakefit
Sleep- An Energy Investment You Need Tomorrow
Before we read about the story of Ankit of Wakefit: Jobless to Sleeplessness, a bit of context.
Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being. Getting enough quality sleep can help one protect their mental health and physical health, thus improving one’s quality of life. Studies show that a good night’s sleep improves learning. Whether you’re learning math, how to play the piano, how to perfect your golf swing, or how to drive a car, sleep helps enhance your learning and problem-solving skills. Sleep helps one pay attention, make decisions, and be creative. One can truly say that sleep is an investment in the energy you need tomorrow.
Matthew Walker in his book titled “Why We Sleep” brilliantly illuminates the night, explaining how sleep can make us healthier, safer, smarter, and more productive. The book provides knowledge and strategies to overcome the life-threatening risks associated with our sleep-deprived society.
Today, sleep deprivation has become a great problem, one which is affecting a huge chunk of the population. From children to adults, many are lacking sleep for various reasons. Lack of sleep leads to many kinds of problems, likes of which include depression, stress, anxiety, and increased risk for stroke, heart disease, and asthma attacks. An estimated 93% of Indians are sleep deprived and get less than eight hours of sleep says one study.
Hunt for a good night’s rest begins with a mattress that one finds comfortable and relaxing. With lifestyles getting more hectic and stressful, the wellness market in India has seen a rise including many Sleeptech startups have emerged. One such startup is Wakefit, founded by Ankit who’s a journey from being jobless to sleeplessness is nothing but spectacular!
Journey of Ankit from WakeFit: Jobless leading to Sleeplessness
An IIT Rourkee Graduate, Ankit Garg found initial funding success with a product he created out of his laboratory. But having funding and a good product did not mean success. He realized that managing the financial side of the startup had a role to play.
He soon shut shop and was out of a job. This meant sleepless nights and sleepwalking. Today, Ankit Garg has built an Rs.500 Crore Mattress Brand in Wakefit. It's ironic how he went from being sleepless to building a brand that would assure others a sound sleep at night. How did he go from being jobless and being sleepless to doing this? It's all here! Listen to Ankit of Wakefit talk about his journey from being jobless to sleeplessness.
Here are some excerpts from the Episode:
Evolution is Key.
Every year, there’s a new car that will be launched, every year, there’s a different bus that will come out right so you keep on evolving and you cannot keep on spending a lot of money on the board.Ankit Garg 31:10
First Satisfaction After Starting Wakefit.
There are better ways to build it. But when that failed, I think it started that you know I have to do something I actually cannot be just going in my car or a bike to kind of get new customers and tell them and collect payments second, or whatever you do in a sales profile of a business. So that was one thing.
Second is when I started my business, then you said, you know, when you really think that, you know, entrepreneurship is really important, is really working out, you start believing in entrepreneurship. I think that moment happened to me, when some customers actually called me up and said, “Bahut Acha Product Tha”.Ankit Garg 49:53
Customer Is Always Right!
I think I learned one thing, and I started believing it to the core that if you don’t talk to your customers, you are going to get screwed. You cannot decide what you want to sell.
You have to listen to the customer that he has to tell you what he wants to buy, you have to build that, you cannot decide what kind of service you are going to give to the customer.
It is the customers if you ask him, what what is he looking at. And if he tells you that this is what I want as a service, you have to build that service.Ankit Garg 53:52
Looking Forward to Wakefit
We’re setting up really last month, our ambition is…I don’t think we should, I should say that, but I want IKEA to think before he comes into my territory. Right?
So I mean, I want to create a value ecosystem products, things of the level that you know, people start loving, and the outsider should be able to think they should really think that they should get in on. So and that’s a that’s a dream.Ankit Garg 01:20:09
Watch On Youtube:
Follow Ankit Garg on Twitter (@Ankit_AGarg)
Visit https://www.wakefit.co/ to check out their products.
Here is what the word cloud from the episode looks like:
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mattress, started, hai, product, company, selling, business, customers, build, day, nahi, buy, rupees, realized, lakhs, create, people, called, bangalore, startup
Ankit Garg, Krishna Jonnakadla, Tania Jadhav
Krishna Jonnakadla 00:01
This is Maharajas of Scale, a podcast where we go behind the scenes and talk to founders who are demolishing the myths around building and scaling a big business in India. These are the stories that have shattered the assumptions around Indian consumers and of changing the game completely. I am Krishna Jonnakadla, serial entrepreneur, co founder of FLIT the fashion located in town and startup mentor, bringing you the stories. Hey, everyone, this is Krishna Jonnakadla your host from Maharajas of Scale. It's a sleepy, dreary, gloomy, cloudy afternoon. But it's an absolutely apt moment for this particular episode, because we are speaking to Ankit Garg of Wakefit, there is actually a budding In fact, maybe in some senses already an emerge science called sleep science, or, you know, measuring how effective your sleep is. In the beginning, I was a little skeptical too, because I naturally got sleep. And a lot of my friends would make fun of, you know, the amount of time I would sleep. And I was, I eventually realized that I was actually on the right side of science. And unki is changing how people sleep, how people, you know, look after their health. And if any of us needed a source of immunity in these types of COVID it is actually sleep. So Ankit, welcome to the show.
Ankit Garg 01:26
Hey, thank you. Thank you, Krishna, I'm really happy to be part of this. I've heard enough about this show. I think I just love the patient. I mean, the patient that you carry in the interviews and the way that founders are coming on and speaking their stories, I just, and I cannot wait myself for presenting the story to the people.
Krishna Jonnakadla 01:45
Ankit Garg 01:45
Thank you for having me.
Krishna Jonnakadla 01:47
Wonderful. Awesome. So tell us a little bit about yourself and what you're working on right now. All right. So
Ankit Garg 01:53
I think I'll tell you that I am born and brought up in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, my father is a service engineer. So he will throw government company and capital omega around the world. Especially the Uttar Pradesh part of the world. Multiple cities, multiple schools, every third year, I would have new batch of friends every second year, I would have new teachers to teach me on different clouds in honor. So, pretty much a proper UP guy. I studied a little bit of course exploration of a normal common class people is to become an IIT and or a doctor, or probably IAS or IPS especially if you go to the northern part of India, you think these are the three dreams that every parent said that the kids should become that in case I followed one. And I went for preparation for IIT JEE. Cracked that, went to Roorkee, spend four years there and did my BTech. It was chemical engineering background joint a chemical company in about 2010. And then you pull it off, you go to the sales manager selling chemicals to to those automotive companies like Maruti Suzuki, Honda, Yamaha all these companies are planning to go to the corporate, you know, but I think I was always very, very inspirational. When I used to talk to people over there, I used to feel like Why can't I become that? Why can't I really create a real giant company? And in automotive segment, why can't I become an entrepreneur who is really a bit of a shock for this, let's say mark, and I used to get a lot of inspiration from them. But of course, you might have heard that generally people in IIT that I am from, any good colleges, you would find people now there is a trend that you know they have a tendency to become an entrepreneur. So for political financing, I also had the same. I started in business, again, in a b2b domain because I what I knew is that I can be a b2b guy, I created a product, it was a technically innovative product. When with illustrations, made it to, you know, made by product in a laboratory and tell you a story. See what happened is when I was when I was just wanting to venture out and figure out what should I do to start my own business. I said, Okay, I wouldn't know his chemicals. What I do is how to sell these chemicals, because I learned things from somebody and I knew how to make those chemicals to make those kind of foods. But let me let me record something. What I did is something very interesting. I used to work Monday to Friday, it was the MNC I used to work Monday to Friday in this company, and you know, and Saturday and Sunday was the two days that I already have always had and probably after six o'clock, I always had in my day that you know I can go and do something more. So, what I did is very interesting. I I I had a two BHK room. I me and my friend was staying there. It was in Noida I created my room to be the laboratory. And it was actually a laboratory I I would not allow anybody to get in. I would not allow anybody to sneak peek in and they know what Everybody's looking in for what two months, it was lost, I will come in, I lock it again, I'll go out, lock it again. And then it took me about two months to actually come out of that room to make a mold that would make some products. So, assume that you know, I was doing some home business, and I created a foam, which was technically advanced at a much lower price. So, imagine what you can sell in the market at 200 rupees per kg I was able to create before which I can sell it 160 rupees per kg, but it was better than 100 kgs before. So the complete disruption, went to the market, showed it to one of the investor and he was surprised like how did you do that? I said, No, I just learned it, I kept on trying it. I kept on meeting a lot of people. So in the period of two months, I think I I went to different cities also to just learn a few technologies, which will you do? And I showed the product to this investor, he was convinced and, and believe me, it was the easiest fundraise that I ever did. I showed the product, he said, Tell me how much you need. And it was so so good. So this is sorry, I said I took about one crore rupees from him. And I started a company bought machines got people, it took me about three, four months to set up the factory. And this is what I'm saying, you know, I quit my job. And I was just winning trade, I would add so much of energy that I would be critical in the morning, go to the factory, you know, even the guards seems to leave at the counter fires to walk inside the factory to you know, kind of figure out what can I do next. And I will work late nights, and all that and 12 o'clock, I'll teach home. And although stories happened, like a typical entrepreneur in the beginning, and I started that business, and what happened is I failed, really miserably. I think I saved about 14 lakhs, in about four and a half years that I worked in a company, where I will say as a salesman, I saved that money. I invested into business, I took some loans from my father, I think it was about six lakh currently. And then this investigative report, one crore rupees, started a business. And you know what, I just knew the sales cycle sales side of the business, I just knew the technical side of the business. But I didn't know the cashflow side of the business externally until I say people ask you for credit people asking for I will give you the payment only after 90 days content in it as a boss, I don't have the money. So I didn't realize that, you know, you need a lot of money to do a b2b business. And that was the first shock I got. And I think within six months of time, I had to come out of that business if I did not have money. And the investor was also not a very heavy investor, a big investor, we would be saying that Oh, go ahead. I'll be giving you 50 crores 113. So it was just one crore and I have to build a business of 100 crore even that couldn't do that, of course, my mathematics failed. And I came out as a depressed, lost in the world entrepreneur. I think I if I if I have to look back and say, about six years back, I would say I was depressed. I used to wake up at two o'clock in the night, four o'clock in the night, three o'clock in my I'll walk out take long walks. And I will not and I will never come back in the morning about eight o'clock. I will not realize that how much have I walked? It literally means to walk about four or five or six hours. And just thinking What do I do? What do I do? What do I do? And there was one question in my life, like what did I do with my life and all that. So I think eventually, you know, the time pass and all that I started looking for a job. And then I started meeting people who started giving it to me that somehow a certain part of life again, you have to get back to them. So and then comes the second shock. The second shock was I used to make a salary of about 12 lakh rupeese at that point of time a year.
Krishna Jonnakadla 08:43
Can you hold the microphone a bit closer Ankit?
Ankit Garg 08:46
Sure. Is it better now?
Krishna Jonnakadla 08:48
Ankit Garg 08:49
All right, all right. So, you know, I started going on with the market and looking for the job started giving interviews to a lot of people and suddenly comes the second shock because I used to make about 12 lakh rupees a year as a salary when I was a salesman, this company, people started offering me four lakh three lakhs five lakhs all important happened to me, I came out of it, I learned so many things, I have done the entrepreneurship. So what I failed, but people took that failure as my weakness, they said, You are jobless now, and if you want to work, you have to I can give you 20,000 30,000 40,000 and I cannot accept that I like you really exploiting my skills. You're really plotting my time if I'm not different. So I kept on rejecting but then I realized something awful happening is my family. I realized that as I was in depression as I was walking in night, my parents were awake the whole time. And I think it is just realized someday that you know i was i came at six o'clock early in the morning and my breakfast was ready. And it was laying at the dining table and then I thought my mother woke up before me and she was already knew that my kid is out here. Psalm 100. So then I just realized that you know, something is off, I have done worse things to my parents than to myself. And there is a point of time I decided that, hey, you have to do something about it. And then I said, Forget about money, forget about salaries, the skills we can have a job that you will get best would be to kind of get what you're getting, and then probably start your career again, maybe this is a day one for you. And I accepted the pattern. And so now what happens is I suddenly came the second opportunity in my life. That second possibility in my life was a company, I don't want to name that something. But that company hired me after a couple of interviews. They called me to Mumbai, let's come over to Mumbai, we'll give you salary. And the salary that I caught was about six lakhs a year. I said, Okay, no problem. Tell me what do I have to do? They said, you have to go and sell faster malls. I said, Okay. So I cannot sell a pasta on in the malls do do a lot of you know, open kiosk and set up the frying pans, get a chef. Get a chef and prepared from recipes. Whenever the people walk in, say the most, I have to let say, get them to taste this product content, sell them. So this was my job. I picked a job. I lied to my parents saying that. Yeah, what the job pack, got a decent salary again, and I'm going to Mumbai, I'm so happy and all this. So suddenly, I saw that my parents started sleeping well. And, you know, that was a secondary room. And I said, Okay, no problem. Let me start my business again. I went to Mumbai, started selling pastime, malls. Then the guy whom I was reporting to, he sent me to Bangalore, he said, hey, you're doing a good job. Why don't you go to Bangalore for just two months, and then I was transferred to Bangalore. And now comes the third shock. The third shock was he did not pay me the salary. So so it went even first, then I started calling my old friend whom I have given 5000 rupees at what you would remember this, like, when a chairman a political party, they're affiliated to all those to the side. And at that point of time, we realized a lot of friends know what friendship is, those who never have came out and Google's friends came out those who were the friend, you know, took money from me and they were a decent navigate. So I mean, that's a different part of life. But, you know, you get to know when you when you fail, you get to know what real life is. And you do at one point of time, I remember that. I mean, in the same time, I did not have money to buy undergarments for myself. I didn't have pajamas and all I mean, they were all gone. They were really, really bad. I mean, I was in a condition. When I went to Mumbai, I took a three BHK apartment in the three BHK apartment already three bedrooms occupied with three people. I got a space in the hall. And it was the size of a mattress that was my limit. I mean, it was a king size. 78 inches by 72 inches, I still remember that it was a spring mattress 10 inches thick. I said wow this morning, I want to turn into spring mattress to sleep on. And that became my room. I had a suitcase that suitcase had that became a laundry bag. But that became my wardrobe that became everything off my internet. You know, that was a small school I was living in Amritsar. So coming back to this thing, you know, what happened is that I clearly lost myself. This was about December 2015. And, and then I realized maybe, you know, this is not this is not least they're not paying me salary, they're sending me here and there. I'm booking flight tickets from my own account, my friends are not helping, I cannot tell it to my parents that I failed miserably again. And I started losing myself again. And then I said, Okay, let me do something. I started talking to some people again, in the industry when I was working as a salesman, and, and I started meeting a couple of mattress sellers. Some of this link got connected, that I was talking to somebody selling Hey, do you think if I put up this kind of a factory, would people buy this kind of a product? If I do this kind of a business with people I started looking out, you know, can I do some business and then people and this chain continued, continued, continued, I started meeting a lot more people. Finally I met a gentleman. He said, You know you what you can do is you can probably sell mattresses online. And I was like, okay, who will buy this mattress? Like, I would never buy it? He said, Yeah, why don't you try? I said, Okay, there's nothing in my life that I had to be doing. To make some money or to build some business. What is the harm in trying have some business? And then I did the mathematics system. I did the mathematics, which were pretty like, I manage, I thought about the cash flows. I thought about the profitability, I thought about hiring the right set of people. I thought about investing time in the right place. So this was a very basic answer. Okay, let me set it up. So I since I was from this industry, I designed by the way in the middle and resigned from this company. I will tell you the first of all, and I settled that one of my friends, please. So my friend was studying in I am Bangalore. Somehow, I got into his hostel. And security, which is hard to do, because I don't have money to kind of stay in and my friend, of course, he will stay in a car. So he also didn't have money. And I had, okay, he paid me for my food, I still smoke, he payed for my cigerettes. He got to the drinks, and he called me one time, so and everything. So he literally became a father sort of thing to me. So he took care of me and for the next three to four months, and then I started building this business again. So I think dentals are start of fake fit. It was about December 2015. That I since I knew a couple of people in this industry, I said, I'll be selling metal and you have to whenever the order comes, I will come to you give me mattresses. And since I had good friends, from that point of time, they said, Don't worry, we know you know what you've gone through. But come and take mattress commerce, even if you require one mattress a day, we will give you don't worry about it come to us. They supported me. And this is probably this time. It was December 15. Both point of time, I would be selling about one mattress in three days. To matters in five days. Sometimes I get one matters Monday, I will evolve continuously two days I sold one mattress, I started believing that there are customers, there are customers who who, who are willing to buy mattresses online also. And it was a shock. I was like, okay, there is something out there. Maybe I maybe I did not think it right. And then I started thinking about how do I you know, how do I make this mattress of business online as a successful story? That was a point in time when I said okay, now again, I have to think about the second part of my life. And I did not have jobs, I was again still bankrupt I was living because the food that was provided by my friend staying at his place everything through his money, so I did not have any single penny. So I had to find a job again, started giving interviews again. But I started this business in parallel, saying that Okay, I'll keep on selling one mattress two mattress, and then keep on exploring how do I sell more number of mattresses as I grow. So I got an opportunity from Akasha. You might have heard about this company Yakutia health check. So it was a good startup at one time, because recently sold to Amazon. So these guys interviewed me and they hired me. And they surprisingly gave me the money back, which you know, what? My salary back. So I, again, we're factors about 1213. And I started my business. I mean, I kept on continuing my business. And I kept on working for these guys. Now. This was a short phase of my life, where I really learned everything. When I say everything, I learned how to acquire people on Facebook, how to build a brand, how to keep your customers happy, how to find what is the right product for them, how to build the tech for a student, how the teams are built, how the companies are built, you know, all everything announced, there's a startup a push of a startup, and I was I joined them and they were about not too many people. So I remember that, you know, we were very close to the founders. We used to talk to them every day, every day, there will be some something new that I learned. So this went on for about 12 months, I became the category manager, I became the I became the guy. So in this company, I was the one. Like if there is a problem in the company, I'll be thrown at a problem or to go things fall and come up. So at one point of time, became the category manager. At one point of time I became the operations manager at one point of time I became hiring managers. And so we had about 450 people in two months. So imagine, you know, what would I would have learned how the hiring process rather than training them retaining them, and then in multiple parts, multiple phases of an online business I learned when I was looking for a position. I think a lot of credit goes to them. I think that's where I learned the tricks of selling the matters on that's where I learned what what brand beats that is where I don't want a side product means you cannot just sell any product online because by then when when I started 2015 it was like you can sell any product online and you remember those days right people used to come that know the bricks were delivered instead, instead of the mobile phone. The Bachelor stolen, not writing to happening online e commerce and everybody is at least the northern part of India. Used to be a place where people really did not believe in by phone, I'll give you a very small story. So really funny story. So what happened is I was working with this company, a chemical company, I told you, I was a sales manager. And we had an admin had this, his admin had, you know, he was making a decent salary and he said, You know, I'm good I want to buy iPhone because iPhone was a, you know, something, some it was some iPhone or something at that point of time. And I said, Well, why don't you go and buy it online? He said, No, I will not buy it online. Kyun nahi khareedtae aap? Bolte hai kuch bhi kar sakte hai gadbad kar sakte hai yeh kar saktae hai woh kar saktae hai. Maine kahan kya karoge? Bolta I'll go to this structure to some ebooks or something, I'd have a store Oh, there, you go to that store. They're giving me a 20,500. Maine kahan online kitnae ka milta hai? Online is 19,700. So appko 800 rupee ka discount mila. Why don't you go and buy it?. He said, Okay, I'll buy and he bought it. He said it is your responsibility to make sure that only mobile comes not the brick. I said, Don't worry, these are good companies. I know how the centers we have and all that. So I will ensure that you will get your iPhone back. They the he ordered, the iPhone came and the guy who came to deliver the phone, this Edmond fellow actually locked him up inside the gate of this company because he asked him to come and deliver in this company called the security guard said please close this gate. He literally hold this guy open the mobile phone chanted out put a person made a call, say hey, it is working or not. Yeah, it is working. Then he made the made the payment to this kind of you no exception that people had. So you literally have to learn from
Krishna Jonnakadla 21:40
Can't hear you Ankit.
Ankit Garg 21:42
All right. Am I audible?
Krishna Jonnakadla 21:43
Yeah. Okay. You went off there for a second after he locked him up?
Ankit Garg 21:47
Yeah. So what I'm saying is he locked him up. And he opened a mobile phone, he found the mobile phone Actually, he put up his Sim, he called his wife saying, hey, "Tumko awaaz aari hai?" Bolta haa aari hai. Okay, it's the right mobile phone. And then he paid the money to this guy. So imagine the level of, you know, trust that people had on the e commerce platforms, when they're making a purchase, and I was selling mattresses, the matter is actually an experiential product, a lot of a lot of people go to the showroom, sit on them, sleep on them, touch them, ask a lot of questions, and then probably come out, right. So imagine me creating that amount of trust, it was really, really difficult, but this is what I learned and when i when i really worked for a push of what customer happiness means, what long term understanding of the product means how what why not reaching the promises means, you know, all all sort of, you know, a customer centric company that can be I learned a lot of aspects from them. And this I continued for one year. And then finally, this is my fifth phase of life, where and I said, Okay, again, I saved about maybe what eight lakhs rupees this time. So I said, Hey, again, I've got eight lakh rupees. Now, maybe it's time to get out of this company, and then continue the focus on this company. So I continued this thing. And in December 2016, I decided to step up. And at that point of time, I met my co founder also, Chaitaniya. I met him, he was also working in the same company. So I left this company decided to startup. I took some money from Chaitaniya as an investor invested about very small, I do not disclose every investor a small amount of money. And, you know, we start I started this business. It was and this was a part of time, wherein I had reached a scale where I was selling about three matters a day, four matters a day, doing the turnover, about 60,000 rupees a day, you know, on a monthly level, I we used to do about 10 legs to a leg up lengthen on that. So, you know, I started making, I made a zero avatar for our business, I was able to pay all the salaries, expenses, labor, rentals, electricity. And, and from there, it sort of continued. And today today, you know, today's the day we sell about 1500 mattresses every day. I mean, that's what this is about five years now. So that there's anything specific that you would like to do you would like me to address.
Krishna Jonnakadla 24:23
And that's a long introduction. I usually take pride in the fact that I do not, you know, we can get people to talk. Yesterday I was chatting with one of our interns. And it so happened that about, I think 12 months ago, I was interviewing a potential user of our product.
Ankit Garg 24:50
Krishna Jonnakadla 24:51
And that person, that was the very first contact that I had with that person I had never spoken to him, he had not spoken to me. And he went on to tell me some of his deepest secrets and his deepest dreams. And my, the intern. So I, I send send out recordings, because in these are actually user interviews because we are trying to understand their context. And the emotional side of people, which is largely ignored in a lot of things. In fact, it is ignored in a lot of planning. But the one industry, which has actually managed to latch on to it is marketing and advertising. They understand what drives people. So the intense question was, how did you get him to talk? It the conversation was about 33 minutes long. And, and, and she was like, how did you get him to talk? I said, I was genuinely interested in him. And, you know, it's likewise here right now. I, I was spellbound. When you took me through the through your journey from 2010 onwards all the way to 2020 a decade long journey, the ups and downs that you saw, that is pretty fabulous. Let's, you covered a lot. So I'm going to, I want to understand if you thinks the funny thing is we, the two of us have something in common, I wanted to be a chemical engineer myself. For some reason, in school, I had some fascination for chemistry. And it sort of came very naturally to me. I could never master the periodic table manual use periodic table in the very first year. But from the second year onwards, I would think of combinations of solving solvents and then acids and then I would compounds and then I would, I would fantasize about them. And I realized that I had an actual I never ended up being a chemical engineer I, because I always wanted to construct a construct of business around something, but it is something bigger. So you know, that's something so what why chemical engineering, but was there anything that drove you to become a chemical engineer?
Ankit Garg 27:13
Yeah, so it's a very small story. So, first of all, I think I joined it because it was the dream of my father. Not that I wanted to become an IITian because I was told that if you become an IITian, you will get really good salary and your life will be set.
Krishna Jonnakadla 27:33
So woh mike thoda.
Ankit Garg 27:37
Yeah, so the inspiration was that life will get settled. So, what happened is we went to the college we will so generally what happens in IIT is that you when you get a rank, you get the seat based on based on which rank and which category that people are like it's not that you will get what you want. You will get what is available correct Yeah, I went there. My father is a civil engineer he kept on pushing case having been on several cuts copay. copay. He would, he would get a lot of people from work he says, I think he's a very big network in rookie college telephone to three people with his connect some of some Third level Fourth level Fifth level connection he found out and this fifth level guy was convincing, make a better simulcast copay. But we went to this counseling session there. I think the one good thing that it does is that they put Senior 3rd year 4th year students and you know, they they help the juniors understand which stream to actually take.
Krishna Jonnakadla 28:35
Aap phas gaye ho ab inko phasao.
Ankit Garg 28:39
Right set of questions puchtae hai . What they do is, they'll ask you kya karna chatae ho? kitna phadna chatae ho? Yeh woh. This random, normal question, right? So I think I remember that one guy asked me, and this was a very cool senior by the way, he said, "Bohot phadna hai ya masti karni hai?" Maine kahan bhot nahi phadna, Toh bola chemical lele. And I think I just decided that I want to take chemical engineering, that was a that is a fact of mine. And I took it because somebody said "ismai kuch nahi hota phadnae kae liyae".
Krishna Jonnakadla 29:12
Interesting. So talk about that mold that you build out in that two month laboratory. Yeah. And what was the intended use of that product? And why why did the cash It is one thing to know that there is cashflow there are finances. But not every entrepreneur is aware of that but in but many do succeed in spite of not knowing that many fail in spite of knowing that many succeed because they know that so it's like a combination. It's not though, being aware of it definitely helps. But talk about that a little.
Ankit Garg 29:54
Sure sure. So I think I'll tell you what I was selling I was selling proceed. I was selling the chair that you're sitting right now, the seat, you would see that it has curves like this. Right. It's not like so it's called molded foam, right? The centrist that you're putting your arms on, there is also foam right the formula where you would stand metal and I was doing molded foam. So, what I did is this form is sold at about 200 rupees per kg in the market. And the reason that it was sold at Fujifilm kg is because it's all metal cost is 60 rupees 160 rupees per kg and then about 10-20 rupees goes into production operation according to what the margin problems you'll make. So, what I did is, I created a chemistry I not I did not create chemistry of this, but this chemistry was available to the normal people. And what I did is I tweaked the way the foam was made. So, I instead of using the epoxy molds, I started making aluminium and the problem with the aluminum was that these aluminum molds are made at a cost of two and a half lakhs rupees three lakhs rupees. And furniture is a design industry, right So, every year there is a new design of chairs that you would sell. Every year, there's a new car that will be launched, every year, there's a different bus that will come out right so you keep on evolving and you cannot keep on spending a lot of money on the board. So what I did is I found I created a way off. So I created a way to create the mood at a price of about 40,000. So what I did in my room is I crushed it a product, I captured a product It actually started buffing in inside I did I'm using some little technical jargon, but the point is that I created a product this was available at two and a half lakh rupees at a 40,000 rupees and use this to reduce the cost of manufacture. And then once it's up to the Ramat will cause that came down to 150 and then a cost of operation came down even less. So, I started making more bespoke content imagine I started creating what 40 rupees. So I said if if phones are sold, so you will donate if if a petrol pump is selling petrol at a price of 72 rupees a liter. Certainly, you know, some company comes in saying, Hey, I can tell you what 65 rupees per unit, it's a commodity, and you will end up buying it right. So I think that's what I thought. And that's what happened. But, so it was a success. It was a success from the chemistry side equals success from the mechanical engineering side. And of course, when I'm saying finance, you know, the finance, I didn't know I knew the financials. But more than finance, if you ask this question, I'm, I started thinking okay, you know, what actually went wrong with me? You know, finance the real question that you made me fail. The reason was financial shock. But isn't the reason for failure? I think I'll give you the right answer. What happened that time is, I was really the motive. My parents used to ask me, beta fail because beta is a commodity petrochemicals. And everyday there was a pleasure, right? The investor used to ask me ask me to carry by ask if it's appropriate en la jolla everyday there was a pressure and I was bleeding money, I mean, I I did not anticipate the fact in the beginning it will take me about six months just to bring business in working condition for good profit. So I did not calculate that. Of course, I did not know. And of course the people that I was connected with, they were really not patient enough to pay a better businessman Alex Abu Salah, it takes time for you to build a business not build the moment you put up a machine or a factory right it takes time right. So, I think my reason for the failure was I was really demotivated at the time I was building the business. I remember that I thought I was a I was a real good salesman, by the way. In first month of my business, I was able to create a scale of about 10 legs. And in that industry, I knew people who were doing it like for 10 lines of business per month for years. So, I was able to create the business the second month also I could do 15 x on the left, but for me to become a better neutral, I had to do a business before 50 lakh 60 lakhs one crore for which it is going to take time and I lost my you know, I lost my appetite to kind of continue making loss and then I started going on saying boss to Doris afspa bento as a man in 10 years that was a country of the boys. So people many came up with a simple last one as the investor said from RBC last scenario chairman. So I think I lost myself I found a mentor by the way. I found a mentor during the whole process. I think that mentors
Krishna Jonnakadla 30:06
Ankit Garg 34:45
probably, you know, tried helping me but I think it was a problem of nobody supported me morally. Nobody supported me saying that beta aaisa hi hota hai koi baat nahi aage bhado dekha jayega. So I think the real problem for For the failure of the first startup was that I was demotivated by the atmosphere around. So it is very, very important for the budding entrepreneurs. I think a lot of people who are trying to set up a business should definitely realize this. You really, a lot of times we create ideas like hello pellets of a business solution SLA used to create ioscm which Kanika startups allover Let me start a childcare business in Bangalore, because Bangalore metal charge multilin, like not in the interactive, I would say Quixote pay angle, we will create some tailor well, as ag subdivisional comes but the farmers is actually a direct customer will pay. You know, when you're when you start thinking about music, every time you are drinking, and you're partying with the people and you get a car, you start going into mileage. But everything happens, but everything takes time. This is something that you have to anticipate that if you are building business, it is not getting built in one year, two years. It is gonna take that is something which I learned. And then I think I'm using in this title. So I think that's.
Krishna Jonnakadla 36:01
Pretty interesting. I'm you know, the funny thing is what struck me about what you said right now is when somebody tells you what I now work later, then they may say, oh, that, right? the weird part about it is if wherever you see whatever you see around you, so for instance, whenever while most of media either talks about an exceptional success or an exceptional failure, right, nobody talks about working progress anywhere. Joe Joe incomplete building uskae bare mai koi nahi sochta hai,bsnrs hsi sur bsnnse waala hai, or jo banega uska design, nobody would have looked at Taj Mahal, you know, you come from Agra, right? While it was being built and say, acha yeh itna kash banra hai. Only once it's done, you look back, like what Steve Jobs said in his address to Stanford one some time ago, you can only look back and connect the dots, you know, looking forward and connected. dots are very few people can do. But there's actually a hidden lesson in that, right, the hidden lesson is for most of our life, practically everywhere we go, we are in a controlled environment. Right. And somebody externally is certifying an outcome for us as success. Right? So when you when you let's say, go from third standard to fourth standard third grade to fourth grade, right? kissena bolia exam like whoa, you know, you got X marks. And all of a sudden, you felt like you created something. But that the and the weird part of it is the college, the professor, parents, your friends, nobody has a damn clue. What is the real relevance of that thing to the real world? Right. So we have a dichotomy, dichotomy situation situation whereby there are a set of people who completely live in a controlled world. And there are a set of people that live in a completely uncontrolled world. And the uncontrolled world doesn't really subscribe to the rules of the control world. For instance, four years ago, we were recruiting interns, we wanted to recruit for interns, take interns for our company, for my company, okay. We had to go through 800 resumes. Well, tech guys. Okay. Every single one of them every one of the 800 guys had a Bachelor of computer science degree, okay, only about maybe 28 to 30 of them knew how to really code Okay, it is it is like studying MBBS and only 30 people really know how to examine a patient and then diagnose the illness. So, we have that dichotomy whereby we we chase certificates and dhantae mai certificate kon deta hai koi nahi deta haina.
Ankit Garg 39:14
Krishna Jonnakadla 39:14
Evenn you yourself cannot give you a certificate in business right. And one customer cannot give it to 10 customers cannot give it to you. It has to it has to get to a certain point. Right. So, so I think the one of the things that a founder, regardless of whether he or she hasn't well, getting a good mentor who has been there done that. I have a principle called the fruit on the tree principle, which is if somebody is giving me advice, okay, if he or she hasn't already done what I am intending to do. I usually don't listen to them. Okay, okay. agar mujhe doctori padhni hai jisnae doctyri padhi hai uska sunuga na. Mera mera Dost dost hai uska kyun susnuga,Whoo, hee hee. He doesn't know anything from different from me it was uska kuch toh. Some I some article. So in the modern age, because one is as soon as we step out of academia, there are no standards, there are nothing, everything passes off as advice. Everything passes off as input. So, so I, in my last startup, I started telling myself, Well, I've done you know, five startups, I'm on to the sixth one now. And it looks like this is the one that will actually succeed much more better than my previous startups. I've started training my mind saying all the things that you thought were the ones that gave you happiness, or perhaps the wrong ones. Okay, right. So So for instance, if you're working hard, if you're figuring things out, you're a bit lost. Okay? If you are clueless. Okay. And if you are wondering, most most of us equate that with difficulty. So we think Eric Cousteau could take nine euro. I mean, I think of your time when you were going on those long walks, four hours, six hours, right? You were laying the foundation for a very future proof and stronger, uncut. Dimmag mai chalra hai are mujhe karna hai. Hume jeetna hai. I have to win. Right? So you laid that foundation? In fact, ironically, if you look at it, you're actually doing good things at that point in time.
Ankit Garg 40:17
Yeah, you're thinking, you're proving it to yourself, you're kind of, you know, making yourself go out in the world and say that, hey, what what if a failure is actually correct? Correct. You learn from it, and then you move on to something better.
Krishna Jonnakadla 41:55
All of the world's religions and philosophies What What did they say they they say, whatever happens to you, if you come out happy, if you come out smiling, saying then then you would have truly one life, right? If you know, for Hindus, who I've heard many people explain saying, Krishna and Rama, who are two most worshipped Hindu gods. They went through a lot of difficulty in their lives. But we consider themselves a success. Because in spite of all the difficulty around them, they managed to keep a steady conscience and a steady mind. And they never went around directing the world or you know, causing harm, as opposed to that they ended up actually making the world a better place. Right. So that is a true win. Right? So from that perspective, I think I've started hacking my mind to tell myself that if so, for instance, right now we are in the process of growing our product. And finally, I'll tell you a little bit about two stories that you mentioned, it will tie in very well with that. And right now, I am every single day, when nothing is happening. For me, it's the best time of my life, even when nothing is happening, because I know I'm building something. Right?
Ankit Garg 43:13
You're very, very, very much connected to what is your just saying? Yeah, you know what? Just to add to that, I'm sorry to interrupt you, but in the whole days of business, so you could you invest yourself in for customer happiness, tax this add this daily, you do a lot of things in your life, right, when you're running the business. But the day you get to us to just think, I think that is something which creates everything. Yeah, I think I force myself every week that whatever my calendar says, I should always have one day for myself. And that actually is my for myself is actually for the company many times just running the company.
Krishna Jonnakadla 43:51
Yeah, people underestimate gaps. And people underestimate underestimate the power of silence because there's also another angle. See, the other angle is once something starts clicking something right, let's say the moment you sell, sell 10 mattresses that there is already a path Abhi rasta bangaya uspae jaana hi haina, and the more more sales happen, the more you will be into it. So once once things start flowing, then you will actually have to go with the flow it becomes much much much harder to swim against the tide. Right. So So financially speaking, the interesting story of about of that person who locked up the delivery boy to test the cell phone. It was pretty interesting. I thankfully, I have not faced that but I've realized that there is so much uncertainty around payments, and then trust. So my previous venture, my most successful venture prior to this is a streaming media platform called Mango Mobile TV, which was which was founded in the year 2010. And I was the co founder, member of the board and head of product and strategy. It was launched in the US for the non non resident Indian population overseas, and it became a multimillion dollar product. I didn't have a great financial outcome out of it. But I like you. I've had a different kind of a desire, I never wanted to work for a great brand, I always wanted to create a great brand. Sab log sochtae hai a great brand par kaam karo. Kya hai? Usmai koi khash baat nahi haina. So I wanted to build a great brand. And ever since then, that's been a burning desire ever since I was a teenager. So we launched a product, which protects payments. Okay, so forget that fellow worrying about his phone jepto busco satisfaction here, payment release in a yoga. And the same thing. So you're managing working capital cycle. It's called vouch, which we have launched right now early days, and I can relate to a lot of the things that you're talking about. So let's get back to the scale story. Right? Very fascinating, personal journey. Before we jump onto the scale side of things. One aspect, I wanted to know. How did the brush with entrepreneurship? When did when you read really take deep roots? It's one thing to be attracted. Today on being an entrepreneur is considered glamorous. But way back then 2010 12,13 tab kuch nahi tha. So how did you get interested in being an entrepreneur?
Ankit Garg 46:49
Krishna Jonnakadla 46:50
Bit closer to the mic, yeah.
Ankit Garg 46:51
Yeah, of course. So So two things happened. Two different instances, I'll tell you. One is when I used to visit companies like Maruti Yama and all that. They used to be their tier two suppliers who are supplying them tires, car handles, mud guards, tanks, you know. So all those different supplies, I used to visit them, because they were the real guns, they were the ones who were really concerned with consuming the chemicals and converting them to foam. And then foam was put into a seat and then people sold to Yamaha, Honda or whatever, right? So and in that business, I used to take care of other part of business also, that was furniture. And then there were suppliers who used to supply for seats, chairs, the chairs kind of chairs office here, the tractor seats, to have the kind of stuff that you know, we used to, I used to visit and when I visited them, I saw people having factories of the size of 2000 square feet, the size of your room, the room that you said is like maybe you know two times the size of the room. People with factories of 5000 square feet 10,000 square feet. And people in Maruti's and all is really really big you you you enter in the morning and come out in the evening sort of plants. But you know, I used to visit these small scale manufacturers. And I used to notice one very common pattern among those people. They were all on the age of about 45 to 50. And they used to come in at a time of around 11:30 or 12 to their business and they would leave at three o'clock whenever I'd go and visit them and bolengae boss 12 baje aana. Theek hai 12 baje aaunga. And then the meeting continuing, continuing going on boss hogaya abhi. 3baj gaye jaana hai. And this used to happen very often to me, and I was like, "Yeh log paise kaise kamatae hai". And I think that that is a point of time I realized that paisa kama aasan hai.It's not a big deal. If you really go for it, you will get it it is not that you have to go to a very big multinational company to become a senior manager, General Manager, this manager that manager that probably is not the only path available so you can also explore a small skill because you really don't have to become a hunter from day one right here you can start with the thing so I think that's where I got the inspiration that if an average guy from the intellect level I'm saying average guy because I considered myself to be better than him because I study from Metropolitan he was appeared typically they see aadmi with a half shirt, long sleeve sleeve, daadi vaadi banaya nahi hai aaise ghum raha hai aaise hi. I you know, I consider myself to be more educated than him. I said, Yeh agar paisa kama sakta hai mai bhi kama sakta hun. Mai pagal nahi hun subha 8 baje uth kar boss se bolun boss mai yahan ja raha hun allowed hai ki nahi hai. Yeh kardunga woh kardunga shaam ko aakar report dedunga. There are better ways to build it. But when that failed, I think it started that you know I have to do something I actually cannot be just going in my car or a bike to kind of get new customers and tell them and collect payments second, or whatever you do in a sales profile of a business. So that was one thing. Second is when I started my business, then you said, you know, when you really think that, you know, entrepreneurship is really important, is really working out, you start believing in entrepreneurship. I think that moment happened to me, when some customers actually called me up and said, "Bhaut Acha Product Tha". And I was like, and I think I when I'm talking to you, I'm getting goosebumps. today. Also, I get goosebumps because of just that, because some people really appreciated it by calling me and telling yeh bohot acha product banaya aapnae. Aap isko bada brand kyun nahi banatae?. And if people were really thinking saste mai itna acha mattress dere ho, why don't you become a brand one big 10? Why don't you dream big. And I think that was a time that I got validation that, you know, people just don't look for money. People just don't look for a good product. I think people look for a lot of things inside a product. And you know, there are believers of all sorts of things. So it is not that you can always have you became Amazon over the weekend, you can really, you can, I think things will come to you, when you start working on it. I think that's what I got to believe in that, you know, if you really put a passion behind building something, if you really believe in something, and if you give time to it, customers will come tapping you and saying, Hey, boss, I like your product. I'll be you know, I'll continue to do that. So I think that's where the time you you start believing in entrepreneurship, that you know, somebody will find you productive, actually meeting you.
Krishna Jonnakadla 51:33
So let's, that's that's pretty deep stuff. So let's change tracks a bit and come on to the Wakefield journey. So when you started, it was just about selling mattresses online. Nothing wrong with that, right? In fact, most most things are really as simple. Amazon is selling things online. Right? You can bring a marketing and advertising person and then put a spin on it and say the world's everything store. Right? That's. And when they initially started, it was selling books online. So at its core, that's what it is. Right? So when you started, it was about selling mattresses online, and eventually talk about the revolution and talk about the scale journey. What were some inflection points where you went from selling one mattress every three days to 1500 mattresses per day? how did how did that happen?
Ankit Garg 52:29
So let me start from.Yeah. So let me start from the time when I quit my job, and I will 100% into this building Wakefit as a business. And that was already bought 1.25 years. And that was a time that I based second time, money from an outside investor, which is now my co founder. So what happened is, I'll give you some stories, I think, organically on when I started launching products on Amazon, what happened is, you know, I became a mattress of selling like I used I literally sold every type of mattresses available on this earth. Which means I had to just sell mattresses I was just like go to get the business as a labor party. So I started selling coil mattresses, spring mattresses format, memory for microstates latex mattress, this mattress, like I said, generally sleeping people was the point I mean, there is still a very good friend, I think they were the good friend, then also and I said yeh sab bech raha hai mai bhi sab bechunga. So I started telling off everything, every everything. Big Data, little cheap asides about these big branded business. Now what happened is, I created a so I learned very, very, very important thing when I was working for that startup that one year startup. I think I learned one thing, and I started believing it to the core that if you don't talk to your customers, you are going to get screwed. You cannot decide what you want to sell. You have to listen to the customer that he has to tell you what he wants to buy, you have to build that, you cannot decide what kind of service you are going to give to the customer. It is the customers if you ask him, what what is he looking at. And if he tells you that this is what I want as a service, you have to build that service. If a customer has some theories, if a customer has some suggestions, you have to constantly listen and build it. So I think this is a very, very, I think it is a principle of basically to do what we do. I'll give you one example just to connect you know what my learning to ride a Porsche and what we are doing today. Today, everybody in my senior leadership team, we'd my co founder, beat my CPU beat my product manager beat my marketing manager, Customer Relationship Manager procurement manager is about 10 people in the senior membership team. They are Ended up listening about 100 calls a week. They have to get an email every week, on a Monday, they have to listen 100 calls and what they have to do, they don't have to make an endless list of those calls. They don't have to kind of flow data up and make a presentation on the only thing that they have to do on Saturday we meet every Saturday, they tell me boss yeh galat karrae hai hum customer is not happen yeh hum galat karrae hai customer yeh bolra hai? Everything we tell is a very specific point saying that this is what we are doing. Our customers are saying this is what you're doing wrong. This is what we are not selling or not servicing customers. Or this is what we know servicing wrong. This is the thing that we do at scale, which is which I guess is the backbone of our company that we listen so closely to our customers that that is the whole theme of the company. Right? So I think I started from there, I learned that what I did when I lost my about five products, this coil spraying latex foam, blah, blah, blah, so many mattresses, since I had a habit of not generated from this time. So I started calling my every customer and asking them, how do you find the mattress? Are you comfortable? Are you sleeping? Well? Did you find what you were looking for? Is the packaging. Okay? Is the product feeling exactly soft or firm that you want it to be? Are you feeling cheated? Do you find it as a branded product? And I kept on putting so many questions and I kept on listening. In fact, if I remember correctly, I had a Honda bewertet one time. Every Saturday, Sunday, when I was working for this company of Porsche. I used to pick my car go to about six to seven customers every Saturday and every Sunday. Like Fridays it was again five days a week. So I would pick my car Saturday or make a phone call sir I'm coming could you could you be would you be okay just planning to do that for me. And people were really generous in bandwidth. And I just went there and they accepted Some people even offered me tea. Some people even offered me you know snacks also being a CEO, you know, they were very respectful. And they really taught me every single thing. You know, very, very small things that I learned from them as that key agar aap acha pack nahi karoge toh lagega sadakchaap mattress bech hai aapnae . Agar aap ismai quality test dhang se nahi karoge toh lagega ki ghatiya company ka mattress khareed liya hai maine.Agar aap mujhe yeh nahi bataoge ki gatta use kaise karna hai How do I use a mattress this was like a shocker to me like one customer got me in his house and said I said Africa like what is your wish that I did not make true for you, other than the mattress that he bought, he said, You know one thing I don't know how to use a mattress like better so it's really surprising that people are expecting me to tell them that how to use the mattress how to make sleep better, I mean indirectly they were trying to show you how to make this use of product even better than what it is today. And so this is what I learned to reset today also you know this learning when I started in 2015 today also our customer experience team we have a customer experience team who calls the customers after delivery of the product they tell customer how to use the matter could also be due that it is just we don't know that a lot of people don't call us saying that caffeine is common and maybe they feel you know that somebody's really caring for the customer they feel like you know there's somebody who's valuing the sleep more than just selling a product right so it builds a connected so I'm what I'm trying to say is as I was a very customer centric employers one company I learned as part of this business I kept on learning from customers what are they looking for? What are the dislikes dislike wishlist and blah blah blah. I think then i what i did Am I changed my whole product portfolio based on their feedback. Some said, You know, I don't like spring mattresses maybe it feels a little trouble when I wake up in the morning. Sunset coil mattresses really don't feel are not lasting on my feet clumpy somewhere I feel soft, somewhere hard somewhere. And then there was a clear pattern that I realized that people were liking just two products. A deal comfort matters an automatic method that we used to live in a portfolio but some of the people like Newton's natural latex metal also but they were really costly. So we thought you know very few people in order to buy it. I think that's where I had five SKUs I killed off creative just because of that. Because the customer gave me the feedback think that hey, I'm probably not liking it. I'm liking this kind of a model, right? Like a three Sq that came from focusing into SQL. I learned the fact that you know, the the journey for a customer to decide a certain kind of a product does not need to be you you're not Amazon you're not having hundreds of you cannot keep on scrolling down people's photo you keep on finding the perfect customer is not looking for is the sort of window soaking when you're buying a mattress customer wants a specific answer to the problem that he is and maybe it's not having like quality sleep, maybe If you're getting back pain, maybe you feel so it a little heated, when you sleep in a mess, sleeping on the mattress and the effects are not on people are probably, you know, not finding it comfortable to sleep on a good mattress. So I think that's what I learned and I kept on building the product, I think that that's what the product iteration journey is about, I'll tell you different parts of it. One is the product iteration, which I did, purely based on what customers were saying. The second part was about the service, I told you about how to pack how to call, you know, if there are complaints about you know, I got the wrong size TV, deliver the right size to BBB, I got all this dirt patch on the mattress, we will replace it with this all services thing, and I think I learned, but again this, because of this, I think I started getting appreciation from customers, I realized that render when I was calling my customers, they they started telling me that hey, this is the first time in my life, I have bought hundreds of products on Amazon or Flipkart or, or any shop out there like Intel, I have been buying you the first company who called me and said, boss, how are you finding my product. So I I just love you because of it, you know. So I said, you know, people, people have really not seen a good company, maybe you know, those who really care for our customer base. At the end of the day, if you look at any fmcg company, or products or industrial, you, you yourself must have used for many products like shampoos or soap and so many stuff, right? Just look back and think who called you? Probably nobody. So imagine the what I learned in a theory is you cannot cook a product inside the laboratory and give it out to the consumers out. You have to go out, listen to what people are looking for and then create a chemistry inside your house to satisfy the demand. Right? This is something which really can't have lot many things in my company. I think this is this is the iterative loop is some point of time, I think I'll give you an example. We started thinking like, if an iPhone can have iPhone 1,2,3,4,5, 6,10 ,12,13 to be I guess it will be 2017 right? Why cannot awakened matters be progress like this just based on feedback. So you know, using that same principle, we sell about 16 or 17 that have forgotten the iteration of like the 16th, or the 17th iteration of the same memory for matter. We started when it just kept on improving and improving based on customer feedback. That's why we today hold you know, about a 4.6 star rating on Amazon with 13,000 reviews, Google about 15,000 reviews with 4.7 star rating. And we are the best love best selling products online. Just because of one simple thing that we kept on talking to customers. We kept on improving our products. We kept on repeating ourselves. I mean that that the two parts. But if you talk about the journey of how it went, it was not a miserly It was definitely not a mansion. So you know, I started selling about three formatters a day, I would do one neck a day and all that. So I remember one very funny incident. What happened is I you know there was every day generally what used to happen when you wake up in the morning, you go to Amazon app and see how many products are sold today. And that day I saw. Generally I should care about one mattress at least you know, I would see it because Malbec a lot plasmus I was very happy. Okay, finally I sold 1000 copies, maybe there's gonna be alcohol for 92 because my target was to sell a lakh rupees a day or so. And just fall for 19th of September 2017. And I that is my birthday Bible. So it was my birthday. My parents had come my in laws had come to Bangalore, they are in agribusiness. So they came to Bangalore. And that was the day I woke up. And it was no rebellion. It was like a chronicle. Like a bagina. My kids are there. And I used to get so stressed those days because the pain is not there. You start pushing in the editing quicker work. Like you start challenging yourself. No. I used to get formative stress because I've not generated revenue overnight. Right? So I said Okay, no problem. They used to be days, but specifically on that day, I remember. And then I got ready for I had breakfast, and then I was about 930 I picked up my car and I started going to the factory. Maybe it was about 1030 or so I reached the factory. Then I hit open the Amazon app. I say a minute because I was like my so much COVID here like today's place to have them. Then eventually what happened is till four o'clock, actually there was no sale. And I was so depressed. I was feeling so bad. I picked up my car I key to koramangala I said I just went off I said just let me go online you know, forget about the factory, do the oil and mindmap video sitting in the middle of the factory and imagine the thing I'm in a factory I was in a made to order startup. So if I get an order I make a product the labor is standing in the factory there were six people in my factory at that point of time. One of them by the way is all these labors and although my cook my security guard at my residence I will stay and I post them all like milk Coca Cola to two security guards to folder to machine salon in a very very basic like Coca Cola masa Lake area where it's very small setup. But imagine you're sitting there these six people come to your face via banana today, what do I have to make and I really don't have anything much I would like another random takiab and others. To order for those. I used to give them clips for download from Amazon give them like blue as needed. All right printer avocado is essential to bananas, right. And then finally photoblog nothing happened I went to Guatemala and I started getting too much of the present. And then finally six o'clock I gave up I said p kuch toh gadbad hai pata nahi life mai kya hogaya hai. And I started driving back to back to my house. And I think I'll tell you what happened. This is again, lack of mental again, lack of confidence from the outside environment again says mental A lot of people will just catch up and all that. I do not know what happened to me at that time, I started driving. And I started shouting in my car, I closed the windows of my car. It was full, I think two or three hours during the Age of my car. I just started shouting. I mean I I just went off, I shouted so much my throat I was not able to come out. I mean the voice was not able to come out. And the whole shout what I was doing is I was convincing myself, this is just a bad day. This is just a bad day it will pass the better they will come tomorrow. Your ambition in your life is to make sure everybody Sleep well. So what today they are not buying my mattresses they will buy my mind. And one fine day there'll be vacant mattress sitting in every home imagine a billion dollar of revenue that you would do one day just because people don't know about they quit you're not selling once they know they will sell I mean I sold so much theory to myself if let's say investor was sitting in my car he was probably given the money just without any any equity in my company to buy to put less and then I shouted to that. And you know what happened I reached my home at about seven 730 and then I finally opened my eyes again. And no surprise I got a 73,000 orders. And you can just imagine a smile on my face I was I was so happy that you know finally the orders came and all that I event celebration, I went for a party and then dinner and all that peacefully again, by the end of the day I hit about one. So I mean these are very small incidents. What I'm trying to convey is when when you start growing when even if your customers believe in that you really still have to sell a lot of theories to yourself at least I did it to my I kept on sending it to myself keep it in ek din customer bolega. Sleepwelll be idle williger he has equal banana put here in Colombia, Kabbalah give his message here. Just wait for the day keep on hitting keep on doing what you're doing. I kept on doing that. I think that is just one small incident, a lot of small things happen like we got a couple of enad. And then I think I got Chaitanya is my co founder I got him in somewhere in 2017. So because the company was growing in a big pond who started selling 10 mattresses, the model we're getting validated more and more and more I started getting my cousins in my business, anybody I can get to know about we started coaching them taking interviews on their own, and somehow I managed to go up my team and make it bigger and better. But at a certain point of time, I decided that you know, the business is actually prospering. Well, we are every month, you know, first month was about 15 lakhs, then about 22 then 3035 4060 no month on month, my growth was really amazing. Like, every month I kept on increasing by 30% 40% 50%. So that kept me up. And I think we realize that every time that you know we have to go and raise money for this company because the model is successful. The theory is successful. And and we are a profitable company. By the way, within two to three months maybe you know we were the profitable companies. You break even from the day one because the last that I had in a previous company, I had made up my mind that if I'm building a business or not make a loss making I will break a profit making business profit over rupees. But I will make a profit making business I think that I kept on doing I kept on going on. We went to meet a lot of investors. I think that was the first point in my life where I started selling my vision to people but there were a lot of failures. But when nine months or 10 months I kept on waiting for many doors so many well it was Just one meeting some of the people will really disregard I'm not sure. I mean, of course, not everybody is good in the investors, eternity, but I will have to wait for that to get in. Some people will just meet me Say Hi, are you in school back. So a lot of rejection, a lot of appreciations as well. But I think we know the things are not going anywhere, we met a lot of people, which we did not like, as well. But finally, I think Sequoia came in and I was able to kind of tell them what they believe in. They believed in the whole team, they really build a concept in theory, and then the final duration on anything that that is the point of time where we started backward integrating further. So we used to do very small divide when we don't have money. So there's a cutting machine for cutting foam. The machine costs about seven lakhs. And then one time I of course did not have seven. So what I did is I went to a Bosch, this gentleman bought a very small showroom, where you can buy hand tools for your for your house, I bought a hand drill, I bought a saw salt drill and all that. And I bought a plywood and created table myself. And I started cutting edge, the whole cost of that cutting machine was about 35,000 minutes. So we should do all the frugal innovation to ensure that we don't end up in Iraq effects. But when the key exchange money came from, I think that's where we started expanding like crazy. I think that's the time we have never looked back. year on year, we have been going by 2.5 times or three times. First Year, if I recall correctly, I think first year business was about 7060 or 70, less. Second year business was about 2.1 30 our business was about seven clothes. And when I did some of that in cetina join, then I did about 21 crs, then I think 83 crs the last fiscal we did about 200 crs. And this fiscal we are already on a runway to close for 500 crs. So I think it's gonna be sensible.
Krishna Jonnakadla 1:12:06
So Amazon was the initial source of all sales. Yeah. And is, is it still a large part of your sale? Or is a lot of there's a lot of sale come independently?
Ankit Garg 1:12:19
So I think we realized a lot of things. I think Amazon Flipkart or e commerce portal furniture, I think it is a good platform for you test your product, test the theory, because it's a minimum viable product that you can test yourself is that it is really what some people are liking or disliking. But the moment you want to really scale up your businesses, I think you have to really find a way to generate revenue independent contractor. So, you know, we found a way to create revenue sources, I think we do about 80 million plus.
Krishna Jonnakadla 1:12:56
So the 80% on your own how, what what, what are the sources? What were some methods and tools that you did to do that?
Ankit Garg 1:13:06
I think if, if I tell you some data, something interesting, I think I can share with you. We do a lot of surveys. We talk to a customer and find out you know, why did they buy the product? What is it that they were expecting. But what we found something very interesting is that 40% of our sales happens because of just word of mouth. So that is really a big number. So imagine if you really build a good product, I think when you have good services or good, you really don't have to sell it first of all. So we have a very hardcore believer of if you can build a really nice product. People will come back asking for it. You really don't have to sell it off. Right. So that is that is rule number one. Rule number two was if people really liked your products, I think if you request them to kind of put above words, a vote to to to build the confidence online. So we did that. I think we got we requested a lot of customers to post Reviews on Google raters on Google, you know, on our website, and a lot of different places. We asked them a lot of people I went personally went to create videos. If you go to YouTube, you will find some somewhere in December to somewhere in 2016 I got a photograph of a videographer. We went to houses we recorded videos asking for you know why buy? How do you feel vinyl mattresses, pillows, protective gloves, but I think a lot of people were very supportive. So we posted videos on YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and all that. So I think we did a lot frugal marketing, which means that we were just not saying and paying money to Google to give us traffic We did a lot more work on converting that traffic into my customer. And that conversion was the key, which made us drive this lot of revenue from it become some of the real life theory this like 100 days time, this is something very new India have introduced this new type of thing. If you buy a product, you don't like it, even in 99 days, you can just give us a call, we'll pick up to protect, you pay only when you're 100% comfortable. So these are some of the things that we did to ensure that your customers are happy. I think that is the that is the main core philosophy behind we could be building a big company that we constantly kept on listening, we kept constantly kept on improving, he constantly kept on chasing happy customers saying hey, please put up a vote for us. And then you know, eventually, the tools are always seemed like Facebook, Instagram, Google, you end up doing a lot good keyword thing. You do a lot of Facebook marketing. But at the end of the day, you can get 1000s of clicks lakhs of clicks on your website, the question like this, if you get clicks, how do you convert those clicks into your customers? I think that's very correct. You can do it.
Krishna Jonnakadla 1:16:08
Awesome. That's very fascinating to hear. So use these online portals to test out build a initial small audience, and then eventually build trustworthy content, where it shows that people generally obviously, you have to build something really nice to start with, then people find exceptional value out of it, and you take that value and amplify the message to the world. In your head. There are people that are liking it. So. So if I think a few minutes ago, you mentioned this, that incident where you were shouting in the car, or on your birthday, you didn't have a sale until 7:30pm. You know, the funny thing is I realized this. And there is so much confusion and a lot of hazy knowledge around why startups succeed or fail, right. But very few of them focus on this angle, which is the lack of awareness. Right? So the fundamental thing, you know, everybody says, Bill, something people want. And Steve Jobs says, Steve Jobs tells you that, you know, if you ask what people want, they won't they won't even know you have to show it to them. And then, you know, Henry Ford famously said, If I wanted what people want people, if I asked people what they wanted, they would have possibly said I want more horses, right? So then they would have never imagined the car. So there is a place for creativity. So like you said, yes, you know the dish doesn't get made in the kitchen. But the inspiration happens in the kitchen. The initial spark happens there. But through an iterative process you build, but more importantly, the awareness part. Right? Let's say there is this great dish. For instance, let's take the world of cooking master chef. All these are awareness platforms. In a sari, cuisines, hundreds of dishes right now the only reason those dishes don't people are not aware is they have not been discovered yet. So if you if 100,000 people are aware of your product and they've rejected then there is something wrong if you haven't even hit 10,000 people you concluding that you know you've failed and then people don't want it is actually a wrong confusion to derive out of it. Right. So I think that's that that was a terrific realization you had so so great journey so what's what's in store next?
Ankit Garg 1:18:41
Oh, oh, I think I think this is the next pivotal moment for the company. It has already happened by the way. We said we that we just don't want to limit ourselves to the fleet space. We said we just dont't want to sell bed sheets mattress
Krishna Jonnakadla 1:18:57
A bit louder, please yeah.
Ankit Garg 1:18:59
Bed sheet mattresses, pillows, protectors comforter. We said we now want to get inside the home which means we want to get inside the living room we want to get into the kitchen we want to get inside the drying room we really want to become so the overall wisdom expanded that we we should be a company which a customer gets a flat a new flat or or or let's say a building and then everything has to fill inside the vehicle should be an industrial coming to the end. Which means that you give us walls they give you they give you home. So that's a winner now. I think a lot of new launches happen in the in the home home product category. We have started selling that coffee table starting tables, time table beds, a lot of factors have come up I think when I started was a very small manufacturing unit. Now we have about 10 manufacturing units. If you add them all I think it's about five lakh square feet of area very large. I think a lot of new factories are coming up in the near future. Also, we are doing heavy capex investment of the size of about 8200 volts. We're setting up really last month, our ambition is I don't think we should, I should say that, but I want IKEA to think before he comes into my territory. Right? So I mean, I want to create a value ecosystem products, things of the level that you know, people start loving, and the outsider should be able to think they should really think that they should get in on. So and that's a that's a dream. That that for which is.
Krishna Jonnakadla 1:20:38
So I forgot to ask this, I meant to ask this, how did Chaitanya end up? How did you meet him? How did he end up becoming a part of it? And from an investor? How did the transition to that of a co founder happen? Did it happen? Because he saw that, you know, there was something incredible that you were building here. You know, tell us a little more about that.
Ankit Garg 1:21:03
Sure. So, as I said, I started this in December 2015. And till 2016, I was working in a social startup and I was also working for patriots. We I met chetana in somewhere around September, August, September, October of 2016. And I think he he also has this same problem of losing out in the past. So he also had to start out with probably got failed, because of XYZ reasons. But I think he also was, you know, very, very, we could we could relate very well that you know, you lost, I lost, okay, you know, and and I told him that, you know, I'm doing something like this. And he was like, well, at least you have something new to look up to. And then he was he joined Alcoa to, if I remember correctly to somehow manage the expenses of his own startup was that he was making money and paying salaries, something like that. So this went on for four or five months, I think he, we, we were looking at the same team, and we became really good friends. And then when I wanted to exit, I told him that I want to, you know, continue this startup, and then really come out and you know, now I have the funds also, but I I need some more funds, can you support me in on that. So he, he also had some money in trade, okay, and, you know, save some money in, you know, I can give it to you. So we did that I gave him some equity and all that. So, this was January 2017. I think like I moved out, I started working, and Chaitaniya and I continued on, in working for the taco shop. And then he left and then joined the other two companies, I think adding to one or two companies that he joined in the startup ecosystem. And we kept a meeting, of course, every one month or two months, we will meet how things are going, how things are happening, we will exchange sometimes, I will request him because he had some small tech team also, I requested him to build the website, as I remember, you know, I wrote a couple of blogs wrote the content for the website and put it can you eat since you have a team I cannot afford to buy, you know, a talent of that right now, can you spare some time he can do that, he was very supportive. But of course, he was also juggling two jobs. So when I moved out, he moved out after one month or two months from from Akasha and then he joined some companies and that worked for two three months and then also again, he left that company then again to add one more company, then again, he was probably not no it seemed like he was really not happy. But then I think it was 2017 of August or something July or August something like that. And I I said to him, since you're not satisfied and I deal with our company is growing, can you join me Can you can you take care of some part of the business because really becoming difficult for me to take care of everything. So, he thought about it, and he came at me and I think I would like to join and and he joined and then he started looking at the digital marketing and the website part of it, I think a couple of months he kept on doing that he kept on waiting when very small town in singer Sandra in Bangalore. So, he would come once or twice a week we will discuss his work from home, save some money on petrol off of it just because he will buy to spend money and based on all that he was working on although sometimes he will come and meet and so six months is continued and then you know, then finally he realized that you know, it is something which is going to become very, very big. And then finally decided maybe this is this is something you know, I he would want to continue till the time you know, it becomes a really big thing. And I think this was March of 2018 I think somewhere from the near end of the end of 17 or middle of 18. He confirmed that he's going to stay He's gonna continue, he's gonna build it with me. And, and then I give him this content and you want to see?
Krishna Jonnakadla 1:25:10
Ankit Garg 1:25:12
Then I think we've been working together for almost three years.
Krishna Jonnakadla 1:25:17
Terrific, awesome. Ankit, this has been a fantastic conversation. I think there are a lot of takeaways from here. If there's one, before we sign off, there's one aspect that I'd like to highlight, which you sort of made a passing mention of. Many times, we underestimate simple tools, or simple strategies that can have a many fold impact, right, one of the things that you mentioned was, you buy so many products, how many companies really call you? Right? Or if you are, if you're genuinely satisfied with the product, many times they think think about many of the world's products right at will, the ones that people think are cool, people brag about that. You know, I keep telling, you can call a startup or a product a success when somebody is talking about your product without you telling them to talk about your product. Right. And if you build something nice, and if you created value, they will do it. But what you did is you took it to another step, you did two things. One is you give them you build trust by giving them that 99 day guarantee, saying that if you're not happy, I'll take that for you that is trust, right? Because people are always thinking, given the world that we live in, whatever I pay for, will I get value for it? So this is trust, trust is always a question mark. And the second thing is, once I am actually impressed with it, or I like it, you may you made it predictable for me to share my liking to the rest of the world. Right. So one is stressed. The other one is the reputation part of it or the spreading the love, so to speak. So the the the the funny thing is, in the current product that we built, we realized that a lot for a lot of businesses that doesn't come naturally. So we built payment protection to create that trust implicitly. And the ability for them to amplify their reputation, their customer allow too many people. So the tools that you use unconsciously, the strategies, you put them, you automate them, and then a lot of businesses can scale like you did. I'm not saying those are the only reasons you've scaled, but they they became you know, important things that you did for your skill. So awesome. Inquire, come come prepared. You know, the IKEA founder should take note, their Bangalore store is about to open, I think COVID put a dent in the timeline. But I'm sure that's gonna come up. But I'm sure that has given you time to be prepared. And then dream big and then do all of this. Hey, more power to you, I would love to see one more Indian brand going global. And when I when I say global, not just in Southeast Asia, we have a very smallish version of the world. And I don't believe in Southeast Asia, you should go global. And I think your story is right, your value system is right. And when you scale that next big mirages of scale, I say this to every founder who's peer who's on a podcast, we will be there to see what the view from that vantage point looks like. And it was fun talking to you. There's a lot of value out of this and amazing. We wish you all the best.
Ankit Garg 1:28:35
Thank you. Thank you.
Tania Jadhav 1:28:40
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