Kapil Hetamsaria, ’05, left a thriving corporate career to launch a start-up that sells design-your-own jewelry in India and abroad.
- October 10, 2015
“I began to wonder, can technology shake up what is happening in this market?”
The jewelry retail side here in Mumbai and across the world remained traditional. Stores continued to invest in inventory, assuming that people would come and buy whatever was in stock. I learned that even jewelers who had been in the industry for decades weren’t working off the most profitable business model. They couldn’t react to fast-moving trends because they were carrying inventory that didn’t always sell. The consumer, on the other hand, wanted to see new designs more often.
I began to wonder, can technology shake up what is happening in this market? How do you give customers what they want and not keep inventory? I thought of using Dell’s model: sell made-to-order product, going from order to design to certified delivery within 10 days. Velvetcase.com doesn’t stock inventory, so we have no reason to push a particular product. We play an advisory role, matching buyers with a network of established designers and manufacturers in India, as well as Hong Kong, Turkey, the United States, and the United Kingdom. We average about $1,000 per order.
Even though the products—computers and fine jewelry—are entirely different, the sales strategy is the same. To create Velvetcase.com, I drew on the demand for structured thinking that corporate experience gives you—from learning how to best work with large teams solving large problems. I also respected that the network you build along the way is an asset for life. Establish that trust and collaboration and people are always willing to go the extra mile for you.
I’ve found that formulating ideas is easier than executing them. At McKinsey we would make the most intelligent of suggestions to clients—and then wonder why they weren’t executed. Now I understand you’re facing operational challenges involving regulations, shipping, logistics, fraud prevention, and other matters. As an entrepreneur, it becomes clear how much easier it is to formulate ideas than it is to implement them.
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The entrepreneur and financier reflects on how the foundational skills he cultivated at Booth continue to help him chart new pathways to opportunity.The Book of Booth: Kendrick Foster Ashton Jr., MBA ’04, JD ’04