What prompted you to set up The Roadside Bookstore?
From a young age, I have been buying books from the famous roadside vendors of Fort. Mumbai, close to my school During the pandemic I continued reading numerous books bought from these vendors, but these vendors themselves were struggling to make ends meet due to the lockdowns. I came up with a system wherein these vendors could sell their books online at half the prices the big bookstores sell. I realised that people tend to buy products online due to the comfort of home delivery. And during the pandemic home delivery has become an asset for conglomerates to make greater profit. Therefore. I introduced the system of dropshipping, wherein a person could place their order on the website, after which the details would directly go to the roadside vendor. Consequently, they packed and shipped the books to the customers using shipping providers I had tied up with. This system has worked efficiently, as I have expanded the vendors reach from just small areas of Mumbai to more than 10,000 people per month from 40 different countries. I ideated this start-up also to help millions of booklovers throughout India. Rather than buy books at MRP from big stores, they now get books with at least 50 % off MRP, delivered straight to their homes. This is how The Roadside Bookstore came into being.
What is your role as founder & CEO of The Global Investing Forum for Teens (GIFT)?
My fascination for the stock market began at a young age. At the age of 10, I started investing in online stock simulators, which enabled me to explore the world of investing without risk. Gradually, under the guidance of my father, who is an investment banker, I started investing. With the seemingly promising markets of 2020, many individuals have ventured into investing, solely on the basis of speculation. With personalities such as Elon Musk tweeting about cryptocurrency, teenagers too have been investing without any fundamental understanding or technical basis. Witnessing the dearth of resources for teenagers wishing to learn about the stock market. I launched GIFT, along with a classmate, wherein we teach teenagers fundamental, technical analysis, and the principles of value investing, as financial literacy. Till date, we have had students from five countries, including India, the U.S., UAE, Switzerland, etc. utilise our articles, newsletters, and website. We are also organising talks from reputed traders and investors, and even hosting our own stock simulation competition soon.
Tell us about your consulting start-up MicroCurve Consulting, and the impact it has had.
MicroCurve is a social entrepreneurship start-up that I established alongside two teenagers from Delhi and the U.S. During the pandemic, high school and college students have struggled to get internships, and simultaneously, a lot of small businesses and MSMES (Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises) have struggled to transition to the digital age. Given that most of them had only physical stores, they needed to develop an online presence to sell their products, which required various services such as marketing, graphic design, and web development. We launched MicroCurve, a non-profit organisation that provides these services to MSMES, non-profits, and student-led organisations on a pro-bono (free of cost) basis, while also providing internships and and experience to numerous college and high school students. Starting off in April 2021, we have already secured 12 dients from four countries, while boosting their revenues by $600,000 and increasing their reach to 1,00,000+ people per month. We have provided internships to students from various IITs. and top engineering colleges in these months. In effect, we provide a long-term solution to the internship crisis while helping small businesses who cannot afford highly priced services.
You've been given the young entrepreneur award. Do you think entrepreneurship should be given more priority as a subject?
I have been awarded the Young Entrepreneur Award 2021 by the Indian Achievers Forum, Government of India. It is a huge recognition! And, yes, I believe entrepreneurship is a very important aspect of life. While running my start-ups, particularly The RoadSide Bookstore, I learnt a few important skills in life. While negotiating prices and rates with the booksellers, shipping providers, and payment services providers. I learnt the skill of diplomacy and negotiation. While solving more problems with my start-ups, I also learnt the Indian method of jugaad' or adjustment. I strongly believe entrepreneurship must be included in every curriculum One can learn various skills in life when one works with people at the grassroots level, who do these negotiations on a daily basis.
What challenges have you faced in your journey?
While launching The Roadside Bookstore, I faced numerous struggles. My primary concern was that the vendors didn't have faith in me. I believe this is something numerous teenage entrepreneurs face while starting off People presume we're doing this for fun, or to enhance our resume. However, I genuinely had a passion to help these people, and I chalked a plan for them to earn their trust. I promised these vendors I would get 50 of their books, sold online within a month, which was more than their usual sales. I worked so hard to upload hundreds of books and market them to booklovers all over India that we managed to sell 100 books in just two weeks! Even with MicroCurve, I had to come up with similar plans to prove myself to my clients. I think getting people to have faith in me was one of my greatest challenges as a teen entrepreneur.
Picture Credit : Google