Prateek’s will to do something different laid the foundation of KalaChashmaa !

wingedclub Prateek's will to do something different laid the foundation of Kala chashmaa
Prateek Srivastava – Co-founder, KalaChashmaa

“I completed my schooling from DPS, Agra, my native city. My father is in a government job in the health department and my mother is also a qualified optometrist. Therefore, optical was our parental business. We had a store in Agra which is run by my mother. Having my interest in Computer Science and IT, in 2011, I joined Graphic Era University to pursue an Engineering Degree in CS. I had a great time there. The teachers were very supportive.

As last year was for placements, I got placed with Infosys and Wipro. I chose Infosys over Wipro because, in Infosys, we were being called for Spark Training. In the last semester, we had to go to the Infosys office for training and finishing the final year project. It was a great opportunity to get the taste of the corporate world before joining. I completed my training and was back to give my final exams. While I was doing a final year project with Infosys, we had openings for the Infosys Centre of Emerging Technologies (formerly known as Infosys Labs). It is a kind of internal R&D unit of Infosys – that worked for the projects which were used by the Infosys itself to streamline their process.

The day had come when I had to join the headquarters of Infosys in Bangalore. The initial days were good and I had the privilege of working with the best department in Infosys. My journey in Infosys was for two and a half years. Then I decided to experiment and grow my skills in the start-up world which was working as a Hyper-Local Delivery Model for electronics. Everything was going well and I worked with them for around one year or so. But gradually while working there, I realized working 12-14 hours for someone was not something which I was looking to do for the rest of my life. The first thing, I thought was to quit my job and switch my job. But that was something which I’ve already done and was not an option that looked good at that point. My aim at that point was to explore all the options. I resigned the following day and flew back to Agra.

I took some time to think and helped my mother with our business in Agra. It was the time that I took for understanding the flow of my thoughts. Understanding my parental business and the need in the market, I thought of expanding our store and open two more stores so that I could earn to start something on my own. There was not a single day I enjoyed what I had chosen after coming back from the corporate world.

Within no time, I was able to set up other two stores and the business started growing. But this did not satisfy me as I wanted this opportunity to be reachable to all customers across the country. Funding sounded easy at that time but actually it is not. If you have an out-of-the-box idea, you will get investors but that was not the case since I was still exploring the opportunity to all widths.

Coming from the technical background did not solve the problem. There are two things that are considered to have a successful business – funds & tag from IIT, NIT, and IIIT. These can easily attract investors and push your idea and also shape it. But these parameters did not stop me.

While discussing with my friends, they suggested that when I have an established family business in the optical world, why not take this to the next level- ONLINE. This thought didn’t leave my mind very easily and grew day-by-day with questions and ideas to grow. In our shops, we were selling spectacles of international brands worth 5000 to 30000 and why would anyone pay this much to buy it online? You need funds to start the business. To start the opticals online – as per the estimate around 300-500 products needed to be added to the website. Secondly, marketing comes as an additional cost attached. I had two options in front of me- either ask my family for the funds, which was an easy step, or use the money that I’d saved from my previous jobs. My partner Shweta, who was my ex-colleague also had some savings. The second option had me going because of my self-dependent nature and we registered our company with it. Considering that we have a budget for 8 months, we decided to give it a shot.

Registering a company does not finish the work. The market analysis and in-depth study of your competitors is a must to set the base. I then looked for competition in the industry like Titan Eye Plus and Lenskart since we needed to fight with them as the market was the same. It is a hefty process to arrange everything and at the back of the mind, you have to keep reminding yourself of the purpose to start and never give up.

Passion is the pillar to convert your idea into an existing thing along with alertness. The third base of this dream was to have a small and crisp team. A good team is required to run any company or business. When you are in your initial phase and you do not know what you’re working on will give results or not, it becomes difficult to hire people. It took some time to construct the core team.

Then to understand the mindset of a user, I started a survey with my ex-colleagues and friends about what is the first thing that they look for while shopping with any online eye wear shop? The answer I got was “economic pricing”. It has to be economic so that students and new joiners in any job can easily afford it. This survey helped in making pointers for our business. The thing that can make us different was to make “economic but an effective” product. We started working and I noticed there was a drop in the price of Lenskart as well. This change pushed me back to thinking and looking for a creative edge to differentiate us from these giants.

We were not aiming to be like any well-established eye wear online store but the technology, products, and the supplies were restricted. Our entire worth was their three to ten days marketing budget. My thinking nerve did not stop with this and I again started putting questions everywhere in different groups – friends, family, and ex-colleagues why and why not would you buy from stores like Lenskart.

One thing that I understood from our competitors was that they have a vast range of options to explore which is confusing for the customers. They have to scroll till they find the perfect lens for them. From there, the thought of keeping the inventory small and trendy for my users became another base of our company. At max, we’d show 100 frames but those will be trending and will suit the users. Keeping the stock trendy and pocket-friendly became the focusing point – as my target audience was similar to the age group that had been a part of my survey and research.

The third area that needed attention was the name of the venture. It had to be something picky so that people instantly remember its name. Hence, with numerous options to select, we went ahead with ‘KalaChashmaa‘. We are a team of 10 to 12 people and with a picky name, the website should also be creative and in sync.

I was clear with everything. We covered all the points and started the website work for our new venture, KalaChashmaa. We indulged in finding economic solutions for the tech-driven generations to easily access high-quality and expertly advised eye wear in a creative way. This company was started during the pandemic when there was a huge rise in the usage of digital devices and a downfall in the economy. Our website is economically offering trendy eye wear and people are giving good responses. This makes me happy that people are liking what we are offering to them.

Motivation to do things comes with an idea. To get motivated, you need to have an idea. To get that idea, you need to have passion in life. Get motivated with your passion and take a step towards converting your idea into reality. When you take one step forward, you will get the support of another person to take your second step. But you have to take that first step on your own. If your heart is not in sync with what you are doing then don’t do it. Look for something that inspires you.

Before quitting anything, think of what you’ll do next. Money once wasted could be earned but the time wasted could not be earned. Failure is the part of life and each failure brings one or the other lesson to learn from it. Your contenders could be big but your passion should be bigger than them to drive you. Life has plenty of opportunities to offer you but you have to decide which opportunity is made for you.”

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*The views expressed in the above article are of the writer and not Winged Club.