Bluegape : Let Your Products Carry Your Attitude
Successful student start-up stories like Bluegape are rare in India and that makes them even more interesting. Bluegape lets you flaunt your attitude through the products you carry. Sahil Baghla shares more about the journey of Bluegape:
Tell us in brief the story of Bluegape.
Bluegape was started from IIT Kanpur in our dorm room. Bluegape is a destination for quality customized products. We started with posters in September 2011 and now have expanded to other personalized merchandise such as T-Shirts and Mugs. Initially, we started without a website and accepted orders via email from IIT Kanpur students. Now, we are delivering our products all over the country through our online platform. People can either shop from our gallery or create with their own artwork. There’s no minimum order compulsion, people can even order single piece of their own artwork. We soon plan to expand to other personalized products as well.
So how did you come up with this idea?
Whenever I looked at the empty bare walls in my room, I would have this uncanny desire to bring them to life. I wished to have posters of my favorite quotes and favorite photos on my dorm room wall. After searching for a few days on the internet I couldn’t find such a service. Then we searched for some offline places to get the posters printed. The whole process was very cumbersome. I wanted to get my posters done much more easily and that is how I came up with the idea of Bluegape. But now we have expanded the idea to include many more customized products.
Why the name Bluegape? (it’s quite catchy!)
Thanks J Blue was my suggestion as it is my favorite color and I guess blue color relates to the youth too. As we were building something for the youth, so it’s fair enough to have it in the name. My co-founder came up with the suggestion for ‘Gape’ as we started up with posters and we believed people will start gaping on their walls more often after they get posters from Bluegape
You started from campus and now sell products all over the country. How did you make this transformation happen? How did you convince courier partners and printers to work with you?
Few things were really challenging in the beginning. Yep, it was hard to talk to the courier guys when we were hardly getting a single order a day. Also the printer guy was 20 KM from campus. So it was hard to make him print 2-3 posters a day for us, initially, and offer at a good price. We had to bear some loss in the start but things worked out eventually
You started with posters which were not offered as a central product by any other company or start-up in India. Not that you aim to become a merchandising company, how Bluegape plans to be different from other such companies?
May be right now there is a clash in product line with many other companies but we are building a platform where people can buy anything that can be personalized. Soon we are adding many more personalized products that no one is offering in India. We want to give people a way to flaunt their attitude with everything around them. People can speak their mind through our products like “I like Messi”, “Steve Jobs is my god”, “I love Avril” or whatever.
What are the problems you faced while running and establishing the company?
Convincing parents to not participate in regular campus placement interviews was a tough job. Juggling between being a regular student at India’s premier engineering institution and being at the helm of a young start-up was difficult too. We had to study for exams, do assignments, answer orders while sitting in a class room and ensure everything was running smoothly, all at the same time.
Getting a good team in place was the most difficult task while starting up. It was also difficult to find a good web developer to make a website. Fortunately we did find a junior (Ayush Varshney) who was good at web designing and delivered a great website in only 10 days! The other problem was to get a contract with a good printer who could deliver quality posters in time. It was especially tough with just 5,000 rupees in bank account! We didn’t have money for customer acquisition or marketing. Initial cost for everything like packaging and courier was high. Somehow things worked out
How do you manage packaging and delivery costs?
We give free shipping on order of 150 or more. We have good margin on all the products that we are selling right now. So shipping and packaging cost is covered out of the profit.
Tell us about the team at bluegape.
Akash Rastogi : Akash defines the BlueGape experience. He is dedicated to creating an inspiring and effortless user experience through sharp, intuitive design and crafts the product roadmap to make it so.
He tweets at akashr050
Ayush Varshney : Ayush is the guy behind this remarkable and easily accessible website. Apart from what is visible at the front end, there is work involving sleepless days and nights at the back office to put everything together. Still in his sophomore year, he undoubtedly deserves an award for young CTOs of the country.
He tweets at ayushvars
Mukesh Chopra : Once an order has been placed, a lot needs to be handled at our end to ensure that the order reaches the customer safely and within the stipulated time. A mechanical engineer by chance, he handles all delivery operations at BlueGape. He is the official DJ at TLabs
He tweets at auchler
Sahil Baghla : Sahil drives the company’s vision, strategy and growth. Entrepreneur, Foodie, Day Dreamer and Microblogger is what defines him. One day he wants to fly like Superman; until then he will be chasing his billion-dollar company dream.
He tweets at sbaghla
Brainstorming with mentors at TLabs
Any funding till now?
We got incubation and seed fund of 10 lakh rupees from TLabs (Times Group Incubation Centre). We also raised small seed fund from a seasoned entrepreneur turned angel investor from internet / e-commerce.
What would you advice to other young entrepreneurs like you?
My only suggestion for fellow entrepreneurs who are planning for starting up is to start very small but have a big picture in mind. “Make a product/service which you really need in your life”
Have patience, work hard, stay humble and everything will fall in place!
How can readers connect with you or contribute to your work?
We are always in search for champs who can make a difference to our business. Go to bluegape.com and see what value you can add and I would love to discuss it over a coffee/beer with you. It’s very easy to reach me. Just tweet me at sbaghla or drop a mail at email@example.com
We are also looking for brand ambassadors across all colleges of country. One can apply at : http://bit.ly/AaoWKV
-As told by Sahil Baghla to iitstories
Contact Bluegape at: