Open Talk @DSIM
An Interview with Co- Founder of Stitchwood.com, Ajit Shegaonkar
Stitchwood is an online customized furniture store that empowers you to design and create furniture that fits your requirement. Stitchwood was founded by Ajit Shegaonkar and Vikas Nair.
Stitchwood not only offers an easy-to-use online customization interface but it also allows you to visualize your creation to the finest detail. Stitchwood bring to you beautiful, unique and personalized furniture at affordable prices in an easy and hassle-free manner.
Q1. Hi Ajit, it’s really a nice time to have this interaction session with you. Thank you for taking out the time. We are curious to know more about you?
Ans. Firstly, I would like to thanks to DSIM for inviting me and giving me opportunity to speak about my company and let the world know about my business. Before starting Stitchwood, I worked as an investment banker with Deutsche bank for six years. I have completed my graduation from IIT Bombay in Mechanical Engineering, B.Tech in the year 2004. Soon after I pursued my masters in Systems and Entrepreneurial Engineering from University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and completed it in the year 2007.
Q2. Stitchwood is India’s first online customized furniture store. The idea of design and create furniture as per your desire is quite interesting. Tell us, how did you come across this wonderful idea?
Ans. It all started with my personal unpalatable experience when I was looking to have a wardrobe made. While running from branded stores for readymade furniture to local carpenters, I realized that the space is poked with problems. Even if the local carpenters customize furniture, issues of aesthetic sense, pricing, quality, delivery, installation or after-sales support leaves a lot to be desired.
Vikas Nair (Co-founder and COO) and I took time and brainstormed over couple of meetings and discuss various business ideas. But this idea struck us during these discussions and finally we decided to take the plunge and do something about all these pain points.
Q3 .What challenges are you facing in operating this business?
Ans.The challenges we are facing is very common for this sector. The market is fairly disorganized, hence there is a lot of pressure on the logistics and operations end to get the right quality at the right price
Q4.Stitchwood is a unique business model and has been successful in India. What is the overall role of digital marketing in your business as a startup?
Ans. Being an online portal most of our marketing efforts are focused on digital marketing and social media marketing. In the offline medium – events and other focus group activities have worked out immensely good for us.
Search Engine Optimization & Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Engaging Evangelists and Influencers, creating Blogs, etc. have been at the core of our overall marketing strategy.
Through all these mediums along with some offline effort we intend to increase traffic to our website so that the users experience our interface and make an informed buying decision.
Social media marketing activities have allowed Stitchwood to actively interact and engage with existing and potential customers.
For example: We have built communities on social media platforms like Facebook. Where we invite and engage people who are interested in home and furniture decor.
Q5.Where do you see the future of digital marketing in the industry?
Ans.Furniture Industry has adopted digital marketing as a medium very rapidly as it understands that no business can grow without having a successful online presence or leveraging e-business technologies to interact with users.
Q6. Can you tell us something about Stitchwood journey? What is your vision of what Stitchwood should look like in the future?
Ans. Currently, the customized segment accounts for nearly 85% of the home furniture market in India with carpenters, interior designers and other unorganized stores catering to the market demand. Other players in the furniture market include FabFurnish, Pepperfry, UrbanLadder, etc. and they primarily cater to the readymade furniture market. Hence, we see a massive scope of growth in this space.We are currently in the manufacturing of customized sofas and have plans to launch more product categories like customized dining table, beds and wardrobes. Soon we will be expanding our operations to all major metros and tier I cities.
Q7. Customer trust is a very important factor in this business. How do you leverage tech to ensure this?
Ans. E-commerce has witnessed a paradigm shift from viewing customers as passive receivers of value to co-owners of it. Their engagement in the product creation/ production process has become extremely critical. Customers no longer buy online rather they ‘shop’, which means we have to focus on enhancing their shopping experience. Technology is going to play a key role in creating effective solutions in our business model.
Our goal is to enable the consumers to use technology to not only design their furniture but also help them visualize it even before they decide to buy it. We are investing heavily in technology to continuously improve and enhance customer experience.
Q8. Anything you would like to say to the emerging start-ups and aspiring entrepreneurs?
Ans.Entrepreneurship is quite like a roller coaster ride, even more so during the initial days. As the company grows, the challenges change significantly and we have to continuously adapt in order to take on these challenges. It’s all about executing things step by step, as fast as practically possible, while simultaneously keeping an eye on the broad strategy.
“It was fantastic talking to you Mr. Ajit. Thank you so much for giving your time and providing us valuable information. Team DSIM wishes you all the best for your future.”