Entrepreneur: Papiya Banerjee
Business Name: Books and Beyond
Welcome to #eoindia #startupstories Episode 36.
Each week we will ask a new Indian entrepreneur 11 questions so that we can all be inspired by their stories.
Ever week we remind our readers that the internet has brought fantastic opportunities to Indian Entrepreneurs and that every business can harness the power of the net to increase their sales and find new opportunities.
The holy grail of an Internet business is to develop a Subscription based model whereby your customers pay a monthly fee to get a service or product delivered to them on a regular basis. Major software companies now use this model to deliver their products.
Today we meet an Entrepreneur who has developed a subscription service for Book Lovers. Let us introduce Books and Beyond and it’s founder Papiya Banerjee.
Books n Beyond is one of its kind company for Book Lovers. Call it a Literary heaven, where you can find Customised Bookish Goodies, Subscription Boxes, Exclusive Journals, Book Sleeves and much more.
They procure and design Fandom Boxes like Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Sherlock Holmes. They have Monthly and Quarterly Subscription Plans that their customers can subscribe to and be surprised with Latest Books in Fiction Genre along with Themed Bookish Goodies of premium quality, such as Mugs, Notebooks, Totebags, Candles.
By developing the subscription service they have turned a normal bookselling business on it’s head a developed a stable business model.
1) How did you get your idea for this business?
I have been an avid reader since the age of 5 or so (as far my memory goes). As I finished one book, the other needed to be ready otherwise I would go under a slump and spend days finding the right plot or series to read. As fate would have I used to subscribed to a Health and Wellness Subscription box and I would wait for it to reach me every month and then get happy as a child to open a box full of items from various brands which I wasn’t aware of. The thought struck, why not have a Book Box. Why not give readers a surprise every month. A box full books and other related merchandise that would enhance the experience of the reader and will also take away the burden of looking for a new book every month. And thus the research started
2) Why is “now” a good time for this idea to exist?
If it isn’t now, then when? There’s no fixed answer to this question as to why Now. India is a developing company with a huge reader base and specifically under the age of 25. The concept of libraries don’t really exist here and the youth is open towards exploring everything the world has to offer. There was no market for readers as such existing in India, particularly the Young Adult Fiction segment.
3) What was the reaction from your family when you first decided to become an entrepreneur?
I have had a very successful career in Human Resources for 11 long years and did very well for myself. My decision of becoming an entrepreneur was fully supported by my family as they are the ones who inspired into reading in the first place. Though everyone was skeptical at the beginning, however, my husband supported me wholeheartedly. He never let me back away. I owe Books n Beyond success to him.
4) What was your biggest mistake in business and what did you learn from it?
There hasn’t been any such BIG failure for me yet, except that there have been many Hurdles and Obstacles such as Finances, Legal assistance specifically with all the GST rules, there were and still are hardly any CA’s who has given us clear understanding of what do we have to do. This is definitely a point of stress for us. Logistics again is a huge problem. Courier companies sometimes play really unfair and charge exorbitant amounts of money.
5) What is your biggest obstacle in the next 12 months and how will you overcome it?
The biggest obstacle I think is logistics. First of all, it’s very costly to send one parcel from one part of this country to the other. Sometimes the boxes get lost in transit and sometimes damaged badly. Nobody really owes up any responsibility and it eventually leads to a very big loss for us. We need to have a stable logistic vs partner who can safely deliver our packages and does not make a hole in the pocket.
6) What habits contribute to your success
Promptness. Honesty and Constant communication with the Subscribers.
7) If you had the opportunity to start this business again what would you do differently?
I wouldn’t change anything. I am very happy with the way things worked out considering it’s a one man show till recently.
8) What is your favourite inspirational quote?
“Shoot for the moon, even if you miss it, you will land among the stars”
9) Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration everywhere. Nature. Friends. Foes. Everyone has something to teach. Also to the innumerable Fictional Kick-ass woman characters who are always strong-willed and kind.
10) What is your favourite book?
Its like asking who is your favorite child. That’s the most difficult question you can ask a reader :).
11) What advice would you give to someone starting out?
Perseverance is the key. Don’t give up cos the path just got tough. There will be obstacles and there will be times when you will want to leave everything behind and go back to the comfort of your old life, that is exactly when you should push yourself harder.
A big thank you to Papiya Banerjee for taking the time to be interviewed for this feature.
Papiya’s approach shows that with a little innovation it is possible to create a unique business in a niche market that really meets the needs of your customers and is a sustainable business.
Books and Beyond now deliver 200 subscription boxes per month – which is an awesome achievement. Well done.