PBTO29: Entrepreneur in Focus – Natasha from www.NatsyByDesign.com

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In today’s episode, we host Natasha, founder & CEO of www.NatsyByDesign.com – an online store that supports artisans by brining their work directly to the consumer.

In this free wheeling conversation, we talk about what it means to succeed and fail and how important it is for entrepreneurs to continue to learn.

She shares her learning and challenges around scaling a business that depends on people who work on their own schedules and are not very keen on innovations around their traditional designs.

She also shares some of the challenges that she continues to face and how she copes up with these challenges.

This is a good episode to listen to if you are an entrepreneur, to understand that you are not alone in the struggles.. That the struggle and the hustle is part of the journey.. And that its not if you will hit a wall in your entrepreneurial journey but a question of when..

This episode and other episodes that I have recorded with other entrepreneurs are dedicated to all my entrepreneurial friends. You make the world go around – so pls don’t stop believing in yourself or in your dream.. We need you more than you know!

You can reach Natasha on facebook.

Questions that Every Entrepreneur Should Ask

 

9bd5038e-3505-4488-b697-c2a462047402.jpegI have found that most good things in life start with questions.. Our minds have the tendency to answer any question that is posed to us.. Irrespective of whether we want to or not. For example, if I were to ask you:

What is 10 time 10?

Your mind would have already calculated the answer irrespective of whether you wanted to answer it or not.

We can use this same tendency to ask more deeper questions as well. For example, how to create better products and/or businesses?

We could also take our business on a growth trajectory, by finding answers to the following questions?

  • What does my customer really care about?
  • Where and how do they discover us?
  • What do we want them to experience when they work with us?
  • How can we help them tell their story (of our interaction) to their friends?

This of course is assuming that you already have answers to the more basic questions:

  • Who is my customers?
  • What value do they think we provide to them?
  • What other ways can we provide the same value to them?
  • Where do they hang out? How can we be a part of that gang?

One thing that we need to remember is that just as your mind will answer good questions, it will also answer bad questions.. So, we need to be careful about the kind of questions that we pose to ourselves, our teams and our customers..

So, what questions are we going to ask ourselves, our teams and our customers today?

 

Niche E-commerce Product that Helps Old Indian Art forms Stay Alive – NatsyByDesign #1000Entrepreneurs

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As part of the Help a 1000 Entrepreneurs project that I have launched, the second enterprise that I would like to promote and share about is www.NatsyByDesign.com.

You will love this site if you have a discerning taste and like hand crafted stuff made by artisans using hundreds of years old techniques.

India has been home to hundreds of different types of crafts that has been passed on from one generation of artisans to another for centuries. Some of the art forms are even a few thousand years old. Of late, the artisans have found it difficult to survive and there has been a movement by extremely dedicated patrons to help these artisans survive so that the art form doesn’t vanish.

The challenge in this is two-fold:

  • You need to be able to design new contemporary designs using these age old art forms, so that these products find home in the modern homes.
  • You need to find customers or people who appreciate this effort and are willing to pay that little bit of premium for the products.

This is where the entire e-commerce business model has come to help.

I would like to introduce NatsyByDesign.

The founder has actually created an online store that has products made by more than 50 art forms with thousands of product options.

What I like about the product:

  1. The focus of the business – which is to present the various art crafts with modern designs while at the same time remain authentic to the craft.
  2. Contemporary designs which are not only authentic to the craft but chic to wear and use at home.

What I would like to see more:

  1. It would be really nice to know more about the art form while looking at the products made using the art form. That way, the customer will be able to appreciate the product better and hence are willing to pay a premium.

Business Model:

  1. This is a hybrid e-commerce model with a physical experience store in Bangalore for customers to touch and feel the product if they want and a e-commerce website for people to order online.
  2. The key value proposition that the business offers is the following:
    1. Hand-crafted products ensure that there is a level of exclusivity of the products.
    2. The emotional satisfaction for the customer of having helped a art/craft form revive.

Ideas for the founder:

  1. Create or link to videos that that show how a particular product is crafted and where possible share a story about the artisan and their lives. This will ensure that the people who buy the products appreciate it even more.
  2. Host online events to talk about the various art and craft forms that are more than a century old. This will help build even more authority for the business in the niche that they are in.
  3. Hold member only pre-launches before introducing new products or product lines like preview sale that brick and mortar stores run for their existing customers. Even offer exclusive products for members only.
  4. Create a focus product of the day/week/Month which the founder can showcase with a lot more information about the product/craft/artisan.
  5. Create a referral system for existing customers.
    1. For every new friend that an existing customer refers, they get points that they can use to buy products from the catalogue.
    2. Alternately, Allow an existing customer add a product to wishlist. Based on the product that they have added to the wish list, the team can actually suggest the number of friends that they need to refer in order to get the item shipped for free to them.
  6. Add pre-order capability within the platform, ie, create a product in the digital form and ask for pre-orders from the patrons before actually producing the product.
  7. Create exclusive limited edition products (for pre-order or on produce).

Overall, if you love arts and hand crafted products, this is a great site for you to find more than 6 lines of products made by 50+ different types of art forms, then NatsyByDesign is a great place for you to buy.

This is also a great site to find art/craft based products that you can buy as a gift for someone you love.

I wish the entire team of NatsyByDesign a lot of success!

A Must Use Tool If you Love Post-it Notes – Cardsmith.co #1000Entrepreneurs

Helping a1000startups (3)As part of the Help a 1000 Entrepreneurs project that I have launched, the first enterprise that I would like to promote and share about is CardSmith.co.

You will love this product if you like using Post-It notes.

I do a lot of facilitation and use a lot of post-it notes during facilitation. These notes are unique in the sense that they allow people to think first and align their thinking based on whatever framework that they want to use at a later point. They have the possibility to enable individual reflection and at the same time group work. They are easy to use, improve brevity, are conducive to have much more than texts and are cheap and ubiquitous.

They do have one disadvantage, its that they need to be still captured somehow and shared with the team. Now, with the world getting more and more digital and it becomes an onerous task of capturing all the information on the post-it notes digitally. Also, what happens when you are trying to facilitate a virtual workshop. There are not many tools that are available,which are a good fit for such a use case.

Enter cardsmith.co.

I think that the founders have created an extremely simple and easy to use product that can make virtual collaboration as much fun as face-to-face collaboration is using post-it notes.

What I like about the product:

  1. Simple and user friendly UI.
  2. Quick and easy to set-up and use with almost no learning curve.
  3. Its easy to set up a board, which could then have free flowing notes or a formal grid based framework that can be used to capture thoughts more systematically. Alternately, you can capture thoughts randomly as our minds think and then re-arrange them in a framework.
  4. Its extremely simple to share your board with anyone, almost with a single click.
  5. You can add pictures, to-do lists, numbers to the notes, which make them that much more richer in content.

What I would like to see more in the product:

  1. In addition to the Row x Column framework, I would like them to also support other popular frameworks like maybe a Venn Diagram. Venn diagram is one of the framework that a lot of facilitators use to prioritise ideas and make decisions. So, adding support for other more popular frameworks, makes it even more interesting and feature rich.
  2. One of the biggest challenges that people have while using the post-it notes and if done really well, can have a big impact is the use of pics. Can the team actually provide a set of royalty free vector images that people can use (multiple pics in a note to paint a story or a scene) in a note. This can enhance the effectiveness of the tool multi-fold.

Business Model:

  1. The team has opted for a freemium model with a monthly fee of 9USD a month for a premium edition and the same fee for a team edition. I would suggest that they also add a student version with a fee that is between free and 9USD. If marketed well, students can immensely benefit by using the tool for making notes, which they can then share with their classmates and use it for revision.
  2. I also think that the cost for individual premium use and team use could have been either at different price points as the current pricing is a bit confusing.
  3. I don’t see an app on their website.. Not sure if developing an app is already on their timelines but could be an interesting addition.
  4. They also run an interesting referral program hoping to get some amount of traction from users inviting their friends. They limit the maximum no of free premium subscription months to 7, which I would think about modifying a bit so that if there is a customer who is willing to continue to invite his friends, team mates, should be allowed to continue to do so.

Ideas for the founder:

  1. All blog posts that the team creates should also accompany a publicly shared board created using their tool. This will ensure that every time the post is shared, people can actually see how the post came alive and how easy it is to come up with content using the tool.
  2. Pick a book every week and create a board out of it and share it on the social media. This way the team would have read the book and learnt something, by creating the board they would have some of it internalised and at the same time created content that can be useful for a lot of others, which could potentially lead to more people sharing the board and spread the word about the tool.
  3. They could do the above for podcasts or movies or any other long format content as well. If the team records itself while doing these board, these videos can also serve as tutorials for their (prospective) customers.
  4.  Instead of the team access option, the team could potentially re-name it as enterprise edition and can then charge a bit more than the 9USD per month per person.
  5. If possible, create a education version for universities and give it to them at a substantially low price. Once you have the students start to use the premium version in their universities, you can expect them to carry this to the organisations that they will end up in (or starting).

Overall, if you love post-it notes and use them to structure your thoughts, I would strongly recommend that you try out cardsmith.co and get a free month of premium access for free.

I wish the entire team of Cardsmith a lot of success!