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An Interview with Kaushik Mukherjee, Co-Founder of FABBAG.com

07/01/2016
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Founding Team - Fab Bag (1)

Open Talk @DSIM

An Interview with Kaushik Mukherjee, Co-Founder of FABBAG.com

FAB BAG is a beauty/grooming discovery and subscription platform. It offers beauty & grooming “subscription packages” via which members receive a curated “FAB BAG” with 3 to 4 top-rated products from global brands every month at their doorstep. FAB BAG also has an extensive range of premium & prestige products for sale online and frequently hosts offline workshops and product launches in collaboration with beauty brands.

Q1.Hi Kaushik! You are a part of the startup culture in India. Tell a little bit about FAB BAG and how it works?

Ans.FAB BAG (www.fabbag.com) is a beauty & grooming discovery service where you can sign-up to receive a monthly bag of the best products from top global brands right at your doorstep. For as low as 399/- a month our members can receive both full-size and travel-sized products worth more than thrice in value. Each members can fill in a short fun quiz that tells our experts a bit about their beauty preferences and this helps us deliver products that they are most likely to love.

Q2.Great offering Kaushik. Most Entrepreneurs are afraid of not finding that great idea to start a business. So how did your idea come up?
Ans.The ‘discovery commerce’ or ‘beauty subscription’ model was first popularized in the US and European markets. From the word Go, we made our-self more accessible to prospective buyers. With newer global brands entering a fast-growing Indian beauty market, we just felt that we were in a rare ‘right-place-at-the-right-time’ situation that had to be taken to the next step.
FAB BAG was a brilliant sweet spot that my co-founder, Vineeta and I accidentally stumbled upon during an evening coffee meet in Powai. Both of us had a very different view of the business – while Vineeta was excited about the beauty/grooming angle of this, I was supercharged about building an internet product that could revolutionize the way brands reached out to customers and vice-versa in India. Today, we have a 35-member team and are based out of our Powai Office and Bhiwandi Warehouse.
Q3 . Kaushik, if we talk about today’s scenario, there are a lot of new companies out in the industry. So what’s your success recipe?

Ans. Planning a FAB BAG involves more science than what one would imagine. If there’s anything we’ve done well in the last 3 years, then it is learning from every box and every bag that we have shipped and collecting data points from our members for every new product that we have shipped. For a month’s bag, we typically start the planning process 2-3 months in advance, where we take a look at the last 3 months’ collection of products, the segmentation of our audience and lastly, the brands who partner with us. We keep the product collection fresh by not repeating SKUs, hand-pick specific problem-addressing products from members who flag a beauty need and lastly, are very selective about which brands we allow into a month’s bag.
From Day 1, we have worked very hard to build credibility with brands by ensuring that a sampling program delivers the desirable ROI and can be seen as a continuous and conscious choice for new customer recruitment. We are transparent with brands when we explain the working arrangement and make no bones about the fact that sales conversions happen only after a full-blown 360-degree sampling + social media campaign. Many brands have seen this channel outperform their other sales channels and have worked with us on multiple occasions.
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Q4. Nicely explained! Can you tell us a few words about your target customers? How do you find them? You seem to have a very well organized site, but what else you do to find customers?
Ans.Our target audience is typically women ageing between 21-30 years in India – social-media savvy, opinion-shapers and early adopters. I think it is very important for a business to become a thought leader in the space it operates in – having a point of view on the space helps in building loyalty/followership. While it is the job of a “company” to generate “sales” – it is the job of a “brand” to “inspire” its followers. As a business, we are squarely focused on building a brand first and we’ve seen that “the stronger the brand presence, the greater the loyalty and referral-driven new customers.”
Q5. So, how important is the web presence for a company now? What is the role of digital marketing in your business?

Ans. Social media is a great way to scale the reach of your brand and we rigorously measure the growth and fluctuations in reach across all social media channels we leverage. Each channel has a unique way of translating the reach, to eyeballs… and ultimately to the traffic that we get on our site. With more customer engagement, we could see our brand reach the “timelines” of prospective customers who were not directly connected to or aware about us. This prompted a further increase in customer engagement… and this was not about people just liking our page or commenting on pictures… they were actually sharing their thoughts of what they liked, why they liked that and very actually engaged.

We started with Facebook, but Facebook doesn’t work for every business. It largely depends upon the audience a business is targeting. Our customer segment was the 21 to 30 year old, a very smartphone friendly, Facebook and Twitter user girl, who loved sharing and talking. They are very vocal in their opinion… if they like something they will strongly endorse it and if they don’t then they will trash it. It was being aware of the power of each individual member that helped us spread the word.

We launched our Twitter and Instagram profiles in the second year and the strategy over there has been more conversational. Today, we have 20K+ followers on Instagram and 10K+ followers on Twitter – both critical channels to building our brands amongst old and new members.

Q6.What’s next for you and how the future looks like?
Ans. These are very early days for the “discovery commerce” business model in India and for now, we’re focused on being rigorous in presenting a viable business case to our brand partners while amplifying the word beyond the “frequent-internet-user” member-base that we have been able to build till date.
Q7. Kaushik, if you want to change something going in back, what would you do different?
Ans. In the early days, our social media strategy was mostly one-way communication where we pushed content to our members. After a few contests where we invited members to submit their own pictures, we realized that our community had a lot of really creative, enthusiastic women and instead of always pushing our own content – we should aspire to be a platform where every member is encouraged to share self-made content within a group of like-minded members with common interests.
Q8. So, before we finish it up, one last question. If you were to define your company in an elevator pitch, what would you say?
Ans.FAB BAG gives millions of women in India access to high-quality beauty & cosmetics products for a small monthly subscription fee while giving brands a unique platform to activate, engage and retain their customers.

“It was nice talking to you. Thank you so much for your time and providing us valuable information. Team DSIM wishes you all the best for your future.”

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