Shobhit Arora tells us how WorldArtCommunity is a peer-to-peer marketplace for artistic creations across various mediums and materials.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded WorldArtCommunity.
Shobhit Arora: I guess the way we’re conditioned at some point in life, it’s not surprising to have that urge. Most often than not, one reaches a comfortable position in a corporate environment, and there’s this constant feeling of doing something on your own. It happened to me, too, around 2 years before launching WorldArtCommunity. For me, the key driver, though, was to create a difference in people’s lives.
I thoroughly enjoyed my corporate career, and quite frankly, the learnings I had over the 14-year corporate life with companies like Standard Chartered Bank & General Electrics come in handy every day of my start-up journey.
The fundamental anchor for the concept of WorldArtCommunity was to create an organization with a sense of purpose, a model that was scalable and resonated with the growing trends.
A lot of time was spent evaluating the current social structure and people’s issues. I realized that creativity is an element that defines what we seek in our lives – and yet doesn’t find its logical fulfillment due to our limitations. I saw creators of art and craft searching desperately for ways to pursue their passion and some struggling to make a career out of their passion. Their resources were limited, but the opportunity was not. With immense support from like-minded people who were passionate about supporting our cause, WorldArtCommunity was born.
Do you have small habits that made a meaningful impact on your life and business?
Shobhit Arora: Start-up founders are often lone crusaders, and with so much going on 24×7, 365 days a year, they tend to lean towards anchors. To me, my anchor is Yoga and Meditation. My practice has helped me to be in control in the toughest of times.
How WorldArtCommunity market its product/services online?
Shobhit Arora: In the initial days, a significant effort was made to discover the platform via paid campaigns and advertising. As we speak now, we have a reasonable following, a strong existing customer base, and good brand recall to have ~70% of our traffic that comes directly. Programmatic campaigns drive 30%.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to manage your online marketing?
Shobhit Arora: Over time, we’ve built the expertise needed to run the digital presence and don’t have to rely on service providers. There are tools available that are easy to operate, and we use a wide range of them, whether it’s for analytics, mail automation, browser notifications, AI-driven targeting tools, etc.
What is your hiring policy/process, and how do you retain your employees?
Shobhit Arora: The best of the team members come via staff referrals. To us, having the right attitude is more important than qualifications. The small team is like family, so well bonded and open that the work culture becomes the most important retention tool.
How are you funding your growth?
Shobhit Arora: We did raise funds in the early days of the company. The business breaks even now and doesn’t need capital to sustain itself. We’re exploring growth paths right now and might be evaluating a fresh round of fundraising.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Shobhit Arora: The massive market with over 7 MM livelihoods dependent on it is extremely fragmented and unorganized.
The opportunity is immense, and there are multiple players in this space, albeit at an early stage. There are 3 large players who operate with private labels, which is a slightly different model.
Our vision is to deepen our presence in the artisanal ecosystem and truly enable functional and business inputs much needed in this space that’s currently completely unorganized.
India has a rich cultural heritage, and there’s a lot of room for many players to do their bit towards promoting and preserving Art and Craft. We view competitors as comrades working towards the common cause.
Tell us a customer success story of yours.
Shobhit Arora: Our business came to a standstill once the lockdown was announced. Unlike other categories, the impact in the handcrafted category was immense as the livelihood dependence on the sales was direct.
This was when we aligned our efforts towards creating hand-made, washable, re-useable cotton fabric masks in partnership with our artistic sellers. The government made masks mandatory, were classified under the essential category, and could be shipped in an otherwise locked down logistics. After following guidelines and thorough research, we knew that a basic cloth mask offered more than adequate protection for those not on the frontlines. It was also comfortable in summer, allowed for ease while breathing, and was eco-friendly since it could be washed and re-used.
Our partners, who were in various craft forms, aligned themselves to the process of crafting high-quality cloth masks that were aesthetically appealing and functionally superior. Procuring the suitable fabric, designing the mask, and ensuring consistency of quality and workmanship while producing numbers in times of social distancing and working from home – involved extra effort and motivation, but the bet paid off.
During the COVID lockdown itself, we supported over 400 families for their livelihood, with over 100,000 masks sold.
Your final thoughts?
Shobhit Arora: The way we look at adversity is purely in our hands. It calls for our determination, hard work, and passion for converting what they call poison into medicine.