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CASE STUDY:-How an IIM student started Firstcry.com​ & made it a success?

30/09/2015

Case Study 1

What you will find in this case study?

1) About the Founder
2) Pre-launch period of Firstcry
3) How was Firstcry Started
4) Business Model
5) Marketing and Promotion
6) Vision and Future Plans

About the Founder

Supam Maheshwari, an IIM-A pass out and engineer from Delhi College of Engineering put the innovative idea of Firstcry onto the platform. He was the first one in his family to take the challenge to get into entrepreneurship with the launch of Brainvisa, but Firstcry was more of a pain-point that he was facing personally during his first child. Today Firstcry has gone on to become the largest online shopping portal for kids and expecting moms not only in India but also in Asia.

homepage

While at Firstcry, Supam leads the show by designing and executing the company’s long and short term plans keeping in mind their strategy. A true leader at heart, Supam will always be seen as the first one to initiate something, and would also not shy away from guiding or directing the team to achieve targets.

How it all began?

Unlike most of the entrepreneurs who first choose for employment in initial days and then move to entrepreneurship, Supam directly jumped into the entrepreneurship war.

Soon after completion of his Post graduation from IIM, he began working on a project and launched the same in 2000. The project was none other than Brainvisa Technologies which was basically dealing in instructional design and end-to-end learning solutions.

Brainvisa was nothing but an E-learning company which focused on helping businesses around the globe to increase the learning & training effectiveness, by designing tailored learning solutions which again focused on set & defined business objectives.

In a period of less than 8 years, Supam grew Brainvisa to make it one of the largest e-learning solutions providers globally and also went on to expand his first baby to offices in the US, Europe, and Australia along with two development centers in India as well. They now also had a strong development team of 500 employees and a core team of experts in logistics, aviation, pharmaceutical, telecom, technology verticals, etc. domains.

As much as the growth of Brainvisa was unbelievable, this stint came to an end in 2007, when he decided to trade off the company to a US-based group Indecomm Global services for $25 million.

Although, he had exited the company, but he was still a part of the organizational activities till almost the end of 2009! And during the same time, he was also preparing for a grand venture which would take him to different heights.

How was Firstcry started?

Now during his days with Brainvisa, Supam had become a father and his work required him to travel a lot to the U.S. and Europe. So he used to bring back a lot of products for his newly born daughter as the quality of products available abroad was much trusted than available in local markets.

Now when he moved out of Brainvisa, he began searching for products for his daughter and couldn’t find the ones that he looked for. That is when he realized that, there was a huge demand-supply gap in the domestic market for kids-focused brands.

And even though, the standard of living & the spending capacity on children’s apparel, with better brand value and superior quality, had pointedlyamplified over the period of time, the market then also remained greatly unorganized, and customers didn’t even have easy access to international brands or for that matter variety and good quality products.

So all this was moving in the mind of Supam and hence the idea of what was going to be the next step for him had now become very clear. He wanted to create a platform which could bring easy access of quality baby and kids products for the parents globally. He wanted to bridge the gap for the Indian parents with his model.
Once all the things were idealized, Supam with his friend Amitava Sahacollected some fund from their personal resources and with seed capital of INR2.5 Crstarted BrainBees solutionsunder whose wings, they launched Firstcry.com in 2010.

Supam Maheshwari says, “Firstcry.com has an inventory of more than 90,000 items on its online platform. There is an inventory of around 15,000 to 20,000 products in our offline stores.”

Talking about their funding; the company has so far raised a total funding of about $65 million from various investors including New Enterprise Associates, Valiant Capital Partners, IDG Ventures India, SAIF Partners, Vertex Venture Holdings, Vertex Venture Holdings and Temasek Holdings. These rounds include $10 million (2015), $26 million (2015), $15 million (2014) and $14 million (2012).

Business model of Firstcry

FirstCry-store-690x390-640x360

Firstcry.com works on a hybrid business model. So, apart from the online presence, Firstcry.com also has over 100 franchise stores across India. Firstcry runs a unique programme wherein the brand reaches over 70,000 unique parents each month by giving out a Firstcry Box.

Marketing and Promotion

On the marketing and advertising front, Firstcry did normal TV and print ads in the beginning of their journey, they realized it was a low return, high cost model. Then they adopted advertisement through word-of-mouth and online advertising media. But now after raising funds in four rounds the company has endorsed Amitabh Bachchan as its brand ambassador.

The company has earmarked nearly INR100 crore as its annual advertising budget and the campaign including 6 films featuring Bachchan can now be seen in the television.

Firstcry is using social media platforms as its face of promotion. Facebook is the most engaging platform for the brand and it witness over 517000 fans over the platform. Its Twitter page has around 2100 followers.

Other than the digital media promotion, the company has devised a unique strategy of directly reaching parents. “We are reaching out to 60,000 parents each month at present, in close to 12-15 cities, where we give a Firstcry box to mothers before they leave the hospital. This box has samples of products of different brands, which the mother will use immediately after the baby is back to the home. It’s a beautiful box of products with an amount of around Rs.700-1000.” explains Supam.

This box also has coupons for its offline stores, coupons of international brands that people can use for their first purchase, but not after that. This is the biggest form of advertising and marketing that Firstcry does. They have tied-up with 6,000 hospitals to do this, and Supam says this model is very high on ROI.
Firstcry has also an agreement with Max Life Insurance to provide the right insurance guidance to parents, well in time. It has tied up with over 6,000 hospitals across 30 cities working closely with the top chains like Apollo, Aditya Birla group and Columbia Asia, among others. The campaign is being executed in all eight metros and most of the Tier I cities.

Vision and Future Plans

The company has been dynamically expanding its reachability through offline mode also. Till now the company has already crossed 120 brick and mortar stores and has plans to open 400 stores by 2017. The company aims to be the single leader in the market for baby products in India. If you want to order for your baby’s products, Firstcry.com has to be ‘the ultimate destination’. Atpresent, the company is distributing more than 60,000 Firstcry Hospital Boxes a month and plans to take this up to 75,000 in the next three months and then scale it up to one lakh by the end of this financial year.

In terms of category, the platform is witnessing a jet in the demand for clothes and shoes in the baby and kids fashion space. The biggest marketing challenge for Firstcry is to reach parents in the most targeted and cost-efficient manner, which it claims to have achieved through the Firstcry Box program.

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