And so it happened…!

I remember back in the journey when we were hitting the bottom and people were either leaving us or we were firing, one of the ex-colleagues smoking her cigarette posed this question to me,

“Kamna, what’s your plan?” And I instinctually replied,

“I am going to stick till I turn this around.”

I was just an employee @ Avenir Labs then, we still hadn’t zeroed on the next product, clueless about strategy, team etc. But something gave me the confidence to say this to a colleague, I think that’s what leaders who are multipliers do. They help you grow and succeed in your own skin, that you are willing to risk it… all for a dream’s sake. I was lucky to have such a partner in my journey. Thanks, Amit.

So Back in 2014, after multiple pivots and research and learning on the go, and in person deliveries. I co-founded my first start-up, Giftsmate.

Kamna Hazrati Giftsmate at Fest

Here is how one of the first in person deliveries were, we tried documenting it then as an attempt to test video gift deliveries.
Watch here: https://cutt.ly/NjrOOlc

Post then, Sports shoes and backpacks became my best friends and one could find me anywhere in the office, on and off the desk, on stairs, on terrace, on the floor sleeping to calm my menstrual cramps at times, every floor and corner of the office (we have 5 floors!).

First thing first, we decided on the idea (after multiple rounds of market research, voice of customer exercises)

Giftsmate was going to be an e-commerce platform where we would sell customised gifts online.

Everyday was new, with small or big challenges, as a start-up owner you invent your daily battles. Literally, INVENT. Since, there is no pre-chartered path, you daily stretch your goals, widen the horizons, and read and meet a lot to learn and keep re-inventing the wheel.

My responsibilities juggled from cataloging, imaging, e-commerce learner, digital marketer, vendor negotiator, affiliate/channel manager, HR recruiter and policy maker, product roadmap and strategist, team motivator, project manager, legal aid, facility manager and everything else.

I served these roles at few times, and coached the team at few times.

PS: I was a simple Computer Science graduate then (with no inclination towards the subject) and a Post grad in Marketing (Management was always my favourite).
I had no formal education on start-ups or digital marketing, and everything I did or learned was on the go.

I was not a HR person or a graphic designer, I learned few things on the go when we were really short for survival and continuity.

So, in the first few years, I was making designs for Giftsmate. (And Man, I was terrible!) We updated those as soon as we could afford a designer! 🙂

On hindsight, all these multi-tasking and juggling between various roles prepared me for a better future as a professional.

Fast Forward to 2016

2016, was the time when we realised our strengths and the opportunity of launching a private label brand in the growing e-commerce landscape. And then came the 2nd start-up – TheYaYaCafe.

TheYaYaCafe is a private label brand with designs that enchant and products that make you smile with their quirkiness.

In the process of building Giftsmate & TheYaYaCafe we have transformed into a digital business led by design, creativity and utility.

Our products are bespoke, custom made, widely popular online, and we aim to delight you with the quality and quirkiness hoping to make your relationships more loveable with their use.

TheYaYaCafe, made a natural progression for us where we were now finally able to put all our hard work, struggles and learning to form and shape. A time when skies finally cleared around both our brands and the strategies became clear.

The journey has been relentlessly working on building brands from scratch – literally from ideas to maturity. Incessantly bargaining with the ecosystem, be it account managers or vendors for a steady cash flow and market space. Forever selling our vision and merit to all partnerships, to ultimately reach a place where the brands are easily resonated with. #D2Cbrands

From then on, the team and brands have grown YOY, we do over 10K products, in 40+ categories, and have served over half a million customers worldwide.

With a round of applause

The companies were also shortlisted for the esteemed Stanford SEED program for emerging businesses in developing economies, and attending the program as a woman entrepreneur in the foundation batch made me nothing less than proud.

Stanford seed

We have since then became one of the preferred festive sellers on Amazon India and have been rewarded for the same time and forth for the quality and work we bring to the table.

The start-ups continue to grow and thrive in these challenging times, impacting several lives in our way to the goal which keeps getting bigger and better.

My journey has been nothing but a roller coaster ride…
To be a young women entrepreneur coming from a humble background with not a lot of family support by my side. Continually resisting the urge to conform to the rules laid for women in our society, following my heart, believing in prayers, leading teams with honesty and integrity, and putting a strong face everyday while building the startups brick by brick each day.

My story has been of grit and determination, perseverance and integrity, honesty and pride.

As I embark on the 2nd leg of my career, I am certain that the experience of founding my own start-ups would play a very crucial role in shaping up the years to come. They introduced me to my strengths unknown, the undying spirit of a founder, the growth mindset, and taught me how to lead as a multiplier.

PS: I continue to consult & advise my own and few other start-ups. Have something in mind? Ping me at me@kamnahazrati.com

Published On: December 8th, 2020 / Categories: Start-ups /