Neeati Narayan, assistant editor of Lawctopus was intrigued by the idea of a website called eShackselling Beer Pongs (out of all the commodities in the world).
Therefore, she decided to run around and get into a cheery conversation with the founders of eShack, Arman Sood and Ashwajeet Singh – students of Jindal Global Law School – about their drink-dabble brainchild. Below is an excerpt of an interview which focused on an unconventional idea, its transition from planning into execution and the general temperature of a mildly open market.
1. Hi you guys! So, we recently came across your website eShack and found the entire ideology behind it to be extremely interesting. Can you explain to the readers as to what exactly is the website all about?
Thank you for your kind words. eShack is a student start up with a twist.
Bored of the average law school life, we really wanted to utilise our space and time more effectively.
Simultaneously, the bug of entrepreneurship that had caught latched on to us, so we had an itch to start something.
eShack is a website selling unique party and drinking accessories and now even a range of party and beer and drinking T-Shirts that too with the twist of box subscription.
2. Let’s admit it, as law students we indulge in our fair share of drink-dabbling. But an entire business venture based on this seems absolutely fantastic and unreal. How was the idea conceived?
Since most law students indulge in a fair share of drink dabbling, we too brainstormed at the theka near college.
eShack was the consequence of a drunken night in Bangkok where we were celebrating and we realised the potential of the beer bongs and beer pong tables we were then using as a niche market in India.
We had seen American Pie and Project-X and always wondered why Beer Pong Tables, Solo Cups, Bongs were not available here.
We skipped our internships and over 3-4 months and registered our selves, imported all our products and got a functional website ready and launched with a bang.
3. What was your elevator pitch when presenting the business?
As student entrepreneurs we obviosuly had no seed funding on our own and had to go to our parents for the investment. Our first elevator pitch was to our parents.
We made business presentations with financials and projections and costs and how we would go about all of it and convinced them that we were upto running a business from our dorm rooms.
We believed in the products and the market and wanted to take the plunge and our parents supported us through it.
4. We will all agree on one thing – The name is rather interesting. Any particular reason or exciting story behind it?
Haha, we agree! It was a rather difficult decision. We asked people for help and suggestions and wanted to make it interactive.
Finally we chose eShack even though it was essentially a website for Bar and Party Accessories because it was broad enough to expand to other verticals which we have done now.
We have recently launched a line of T-Shirts and want to expand to other verticals which we can do under this brand name.
5. How does it feel, being an entrepreneur I mean?
It feels rather good. There is a satisfaction that you are doing something very constructive and learning a lot along the way. Being an entrepreneur teaches you more than you can imagine.
We did not know international negotiation, marketing platforms, sales ideas, website design or even e-commerce logistics and customer support but we picked up everything on the way.
Not just that we have learnt about people and the real world. We have made our fair share of mistakes and are glad to have committed them so early.
6. We all know that formulating a business idea and giving financial and logistical life to it are entirely different things. How did this idea transit from the planning stage into the realm of execution stage?
When we came up with the idea to retail bar and party accessories, we looked at each others faces and said, “OK, let us do this” and then we looked again and asked each other, “how?” After a few seconds of blankness we just googled it.
One small step after another and we figured out importing of goods, customs management and shipping department – an aspect which Ashwajeet handled.
I (Arman), in the meanwhile figured out end customer logistics, shipping & warehousing needs as well e-commerce web development. Thereafter, we strung it together.
It all fell into place gradually. Once we launched we figured out SEO, Social Media Marketing etc. Customer Service came naturally to us because we are both outgoing and love talking to people and we also lend our fair share of ears to their talks.
7. What have been the biggest challenges rather roadblocks. What have been the mini morals of these stories up until now?
We have faced numerous difficulties on our way. For starters, we had to skip our internships since we needed to give full time attention to this over the summer. Later, we presented certificates of internships to each other under our own company name signed by each other.
We obviously got screwed for it. Haha! Balancing law school studies and the pressures-cum-syndromes along the route with the venture has been difficult. However, on the brighter side, it has improved our time management skills and it has become more of a day-night thing.
We have to divide the work smartly and our friends have been extremely supportive and encouraging as well.
8. Did you have any business experience or did anyone go out of their way to help you out? Was it a smooth transition from Constitutional Lectures and Mooting sessions to an entirely different arena for a law student?
We had no prior business experience but that was not a set back as such because we learnt the necessary skills on the way. When you’re determined to do something and you go out of your way to make it happen, it is all possible.
We studied things we did not know about the business spoke to people who could help us. Since we spend maximum time on a residential campus a lot of people have gone out of their way without which none of this would be possible.
Our courier agency in Jalandhar has been extremely supportive. Our helpers back in the warehouse have been extremely kind and accomodating.
9. What have been your biggest successes till this date?
We have received an amazing response from our parents and friends and a lot of orders from all over India.
We have received huge orders for some of our products from PepsiCo and people have ordered for bachelor parties and farm house parties in bulk as well.
I feel that our biggest success has been our reach. We thought these products would work well in the metros but we have received lots of orders from Rohtak, Raipur, Patiala, Varanasi, Shimla etc and the response has ben overwhelming.
10. What has been the market like for you guys? Do you believe it is ready for such an innovative venture by law students?
The market has been great but we feel people are still digesting the use and utility of beer bongs and beer pong tables along with drinking games but the vibe is picking up.
Many times we have had inquiries from customers who were surprised and shocked that the venture is being run by law students who are still studying. Surprisingly, it has worked more to our advantage than disadvantage.
11. Describe a day in the life of Arman Sood and Ashwajeet Singh?
Hectic. Haha. We can’t really travel together anymore because one of needs to be around to handle the ground work even though most of the work happens over the internet.
Our Monday morning classes are the worst because that’s when the business world wakes up and we have to take and make calls and respond to queries and e-mails.
We usually study during the afternoons and brainstorm and work at night hence we lose out on sleep but it is fun work and we enjoy it.
12. Do tell me about any Future plans!
The future is as uncertain as ever. We want to expand our range of accessories and line of beer and alcohol t-shirts and believe that there is a much bigger market out there than we have captured till now.
As far as law school is concerned we need to decide our intership scene as well as whether or not to sit for placements. We have two more years of law school which will be hectic and it is going to get tougher but both of us are willing to take on the challenge and are excited to see where this goes.
13. Lastly comes the inevitable question – What is your advice to follow entrepreneurs?
Things don’t always go as planned but that is not necessarily for the worse. It can be for the better if you can adapt and adjust. We always thought we would be a B2C (Business to Customer) start-up but soon enough we have conducted large B2B (Business to Business) transactions.
You should be willing to take a risk. Not because that’s how it is but because there’s no fun otherwise.
There is no right time to start up. It’s a gut feeling an instinct that tells you to take the plunge and when you feel that it is best to jump right in.
Even if things don’t go your way, remember that as an entrepreneur one needs to adapt and innovate and things do always fall into place.
Do things the right way, always and it will get you farthest. There are no short cuts in life.