From Rajasthan where the bright hues of the traditional wear stand out brilliantly against the desert sand, to Kerala where the lush greenery makes the perfect ambience for the colourful Kathakali performances.
Inspired by these very colours of India that two young entrepreneurs 28-year-old Saurabh Mathur and 27-year-old Jagmal Singh have teamed up to form Rangiru with the aim of taking Indian Handicraft to the global market.
After completing his B. Tech from IIT Delhi and M.S. from Columbia University 2007, Saurabh worked for Google in California for four years before shifting base to India last year.
Jagmal also a B. Tech from IIT Delhi has worked for DE Shaw in Hyderabad for about 4 and half years ganged up with Saurabh to work on Rangiru from Oct 2011.
When did it all begin?
It all started in July 2011 when Saurabh moved back to India and wanted to start something unique for the Indian consumers at a global level.
“I was in conversation with Jagmal and among the ideas we discussed, one was to work on a website which promoted Indian Arts. There was clear admiration in overseas markets for Indian Handicraft and we noticed a latent market for such goods among the new households of Indian urban population.”
Handicraft is also the second largest industry in rural India, yet it is extremely disorganized in terms of retail. So Saurabh and Jagmal decided to bridge the gap between these artists and consumers and create a positive impact. The industry was also close to Jagmal’s heart as he is from Jodhpur, a hub of Rajasthani handicraft and so they both decided to start something new.
They started with an initial investment of 2-3 lakhs and since both of them are developers they built all parts of the platform on their own which helped to keep the initial investment costs low.
Rangiru has been coined using the words ‘Rang’ (which means “color” in Hindi) and “Ikiru” (a Japanese word, meaning ‘to live’); so Rangiru stands for colors to live for.
“We are on a mission to add colors to your life. Ikiru is also an acclaimed movie by Kurosawa (must watch in case you haven’t already) and I happen to be a big fan of that movie. Perhaps that influenced the name of our first venture. People associate us with a gala of colours and it’s our endeavor to never disappoint them through our products,” smiles Saurabh.
Both Jagmal and Saurabh had to face quite a few challenges in their venture beginning with the disorganization inherent in the market. “Just ensuring that a handmade product by an artist in some remote village of India reaches reliably to our customer in any part of India on demand (and in one piece) is perhaps the biggest, says Jagmal.
But they admit that as they are getting acquainted with the industry they are getting better at what they do now. Another big challenge is reaching out to the target audience. Through their blog they are also trying to build a community of artists, DIY enthusiasts, hobbyists and handmade product lovers.
“I think we have found a small base of people who like us if we can live up to that we can grow that base over time,” adds Saurabh.
Based on the feedback that they have received from their customers, Saurabh and Jagmal realized that the prices of designer and handmade products on other similar platforms were higher as compared to what was available at Rangiru.
“We are continually finding and partnering with artisans and vendors who either make the products themselves or have very reasonable prices. This is why we are able to bring down prices of popular items like jewelery and Indian ethnic arts,” explains Jagmal.
While on one hand this brings tremendous value to the artisan who is not well versed with the Internet and on the other hand it is inexpensive to the customer. Jagmal and Saurabh hope to deliver the same products to your doorstep at the same or better prices than you would be able to buy at your nearest crafts bazaar.
Rangiru is constantly looking up artisans who are willing to put their work on display on their website and then as the orders flow in they help them serve it. This involves taking pictures of the products, writing descriptions and answering questions that a customer would normally ask when purchasing offline.
Jagmal adds, “On the other hand we want to create a community of people and customers who like to craft things. Through our blog we learn from them, teach them and through our platform we help them market their products.”
The products range from INR50 (jewellery) to INR4,000 (hand painted products) with a commission of 15-20% charged on every successful sale made through Rangiru.
“As of now we just accept the products that the artisans make and help market them. Gradually we would like to involve in designers and creatives who can work with these artisans to bring in new designs,” adds Saurabh.
Rangiru adheres to a strict return and customer satisfaction policy. Even the slightest of damage or imperfection can cause customer dissatisfaction and return so as a practice they don’t work with low or mediocre quality products.
Jagmal adds, “Our artisans understand this and on many occasions, they have had to make a product multiple times for an order. We ensure the size, shape, color and fidelity of images for all products ordered.”
Rangiru promotes their products through social media like Facebook, Google ads and through their newsletters.