Guest Articles

An Unstained Interview with Silus Reddy (Co-Founder, MyWash)

Nothing chains down the free spirit of a bachelor in a big city quite the way as the evil necessity of doing laundry. The mere thought of laundry crossing someone’s mind on a Friday completely demolishes all plans for Saturday morning. Even staying in bed till 12 is not an option. The same problem was faced by Balaji Ashok, Raghu Bharat and Silus Reddy. They took it upon themselves to solve the problem, and as they have articulated so elaborately on their website, www.mywash.in“We wanted an easy way to get laundry done. We couldn’t find one. So we built one.”

The Brandworms Team recently caught up with Silus Reddy, a.k.a HeaDShoT, and we tried to understand what it takes to make an idea that is so simple yet brilliant and elegant to really work in the real world. Here’s what he had to say.
  1. What ignited the idea of a start-up in this sector? 

    Raghu Bharat, Balaji Ashok, Silus Reddy - The co-founders of MyWash

    Raghu Bharat, Balaji Ashok, Silus Reddy – The co-founders of MyWash

MyWash is an on-demand dry cleaning & laundry startup. We are a tech startup trying to bring a change in how the laundry industry works. Even when I was studying in BITS Pilani we always had a dhobi coming once every week take our clothes and deliver them back (though the quality was horrible) and we never felt the wrath of doing laundry on our own until I started my professional career in Bangalore I had to go to laundry players here. In the days when house can be found at tap of a button, groceries can be ordered in a tap of button, I seriously looked for a good laundry service and we couldn’t find one. So I and my friends started working on this. The idea.

  • What are the problems you faced while pitching for the funding of your start-up?

The VCs are usually very cool and helping in nature. I will agree that they take time but they do take solid decisions. The VC firms we spoke to took decisions very quickly. Angels are usually slower and cautious. We never really faced any serious issues.

  • What is your target segment?

We target bachelors & IT professionals who value time and money alike. Doing laundry is such a pain even when you own washing machine. So we want people to work hard and party harder while we solve their complete laundry problems. We also believe that nuclear families are a good customer segment because of our only Iron & Dry cleaning services.

  • What are the opportunities and threats you foresee?

The opportunity is very big and right in front of the eyes. We can see so many thing we can do in this industry. We want to be like NETFLIX who started with selling DVDs and now make the movies itself. Probably we will get into clothes manufacturing itself in the future. The opportunity itself is too big. Threat is that customer it is getting difficult to meet customer expectations and our demand is more than we can handle right from day one. I foresee the same case for a foreseeable future.

  • What does your business model look like? Are you going to tie up with un-organized players in the market or completely own the business by yourself?

As of now we selectively choose vendors who are unorganized players in this market. We are still tuning our operations model.

  • How do you market MyWash? What has been the formula for success of marketing yet? 

Facebook has been our most successful channel. We try ads and actually most of the time our organic posts itself get huge traffic on the site. As of now are ranked 9000+ in Alexa, which is huge for a 2 month old startup.

  • What are the expansion plans in the future?

We want to quickly prove our model in Bangalore and expand the same across cities in India. We are currently actively raising funds and our expansion plans are tied up with that resource.

  • What advice would you want to give to the people taking step towards entrepreneurship?

Entrepreneurship is awesome. Do take the jump. More than idea you need a team. In fact I first had a team and then we looked for problems and a solutions for it. I suggest people to do it. Having an idea and looking for team won’t work at all. Have a team first should be your approach. I am lucky to have found co-founders like Raghu and Balaji.

  • What does your revenue generation model look like?

We generate revenues right from day one. Our model is simple we do laundry & dry cleaning and the customer pays for the same.

  • How much profit do you foresee for the next financial year? 

We don’t want to disclose the numbers but we see a good growth for the future.

The power of branding – Turning a blind eye

turning-a-blind-eye

I, as an individual like to possess things that define me. Likewise, the brands associated with the products/services I possess/use matter to me tremendously. But like most other teenagers I couldn’t always possibly afford these expensive branded goodies, except on a few occasions.

A couple of years ago, I purchased a branded wallet, costing a bomb apparently. Nevertheless, I was quite happy with the purchase as the wallet totally appealed to me. One fine day, after using it for about four months, I noticed a cut on its edge which only got worse as time passed (courtesy of my usage). So, I knew I would need a new one sooner than later. But after my experience with the existing one, I didn’t as well as couldn’t invest the same kind of money on the next one. Later that month, during a visit to my parents, I accompanied my mother and her friend to a local fair. While waiting for them to finish their shopping, which as it turned out was more of a gossip/critic show, I saw a young chap rigorously trying to sell his products at a tent. I must say he was doing a commendable job as he created a curiosity in me to step towards his tent that exhibited all sorts of accessories from caps to socks. My eye locked in on a bundle of wallets. I knew that the brand logos a few of these sported were not for real. But the material quality and the feel of the wallet convinced me otherwise and before I could think further, the man acknowledged my presence and said, “a good choice for a happy price of only 200/-“. As I knew that a ‘genuine’ one would cost at least five times the price, I told the man it was not original. To this, he immediately grabbed another piece of wallet and showed me all its insides and replied that I doubted its originality only because it lacked a huge price tag and a place in a fancy store with well suited representatives trying to sell it, well may be. At last after a few failed negotiation attempts, hey don’t judge me, I bought the wallet. I thought if it survived for a little over couple of months, I got a good deal. If not, well, I didn’t lose much anyway.

I think most of us as consumers and sellers do not realise the power of branding. When my branded wallet (the one I bought from an exclusive store) got damaged, I blamed myself for it and a majority of you would also agree that my rough usage damaged the wallet. And the brand’s quality/durability stands undisputed in our minds. On the other hand, the second wallet I got from the fair surprisingly survived for more than a year. And eventually, as I kept using it, I completely forgot that it was not an original one. However, had it not been durable for over a year and had it survived the same or less time my branded wallet did, I wouldn’t blame my usage but the fact that it was not a branded piece as the reason for its fragility. So the question we need to ask ourselves as consumers is, does branding ensure undisputed quality? And as producers how much further can it be extended?

Author: Raghav Dalmia

Raghav Dalmia Masters in Marketing and always fascinated by human behaviour, intellectually strong he is making his ground in  insights.

Marketing: Hype or Essentiality

Let me start with an anecdote once told to me by an Indian marketing guru. The country is Brazil. Product – tissue paper used in toilets. The association of tissue paper manufacturers of Brazil was staring at a problem. After a few years of rapid growth, the market was slowing down – so much that the industry was stagnating for the last few years and was facing negative growth in current years. After a lot of brainstorming, they decided to appoint a young Stanford MBA to solve their problem. The young graduate joined, and immediately decided to run a market research. The objective was to understand the cause of stagnation in the industry. The young MBA understood that the answer is camouflaged somewhere in consumer behavior. His research showed that the favorite habit of Brazilians was to read comics while using the toilet. So, his suggestion to the association was to print comics on tissue paper. The association accepted his recommendation and the industry immediately started growing, as consumption of tissue paper went through the roof.

This is just one example, among many, that shows how marketing has been instrumental in turning around the fortunes of organizations.

Now let us take a look at another marketing strategy, closer to home. India was liberalized (economic) in 1991. The buzz in the western world, faced with slowing growth, was the immense potential of the Indian middle class. According to their estimates, India had more than 500 million middle class people, which was double of what United States had at that point in time. So, there was a beeline for foreign brands to enter India and exploit the huge potential of the middle class here. One of the brands was Ray-Ban. They built a factory and went aggressively in marketing and selling their brand. Expectations and enthusiasm was sky high. Within a few short years, expectation gave way to despair. The numbers realized fell far short of expectations. As usual, trouble erupted and heads rolled. But, the core question remained – why? And, where did we go wrong? Ray-Ban went through its marketing effort in copybook style. They employed the most modern techniques of marketing – in a way; they were pioneers in some areas of modern marketing techniques in India. Root cause analysis showed that the reason was very simple, something which was common knowledge of every executive in the organization. The reason is that of wrong pricing. The market was just not ready to accept sunglasses for upwards of rupees fifteen hundred a piece. The headquarters in Rochester (USA) failed to apprehend that middle class in USA and that in India were very different in their purchasing power capacity. Fifty dollars were equivalent to fifteen hundred rupees, but in purchasing power parity and also in terms of consumer behavior, they were widely different. The result: Ray-Ban was a big failure in India and had to be sold off.

This is just one example where marketing mistakes and lack of consumer insight virtually ruins the potential of a brand and brings in the decline of a venerable organization.

The real life anecdotes serve only one purpose: the importance of marketing in today’s organizations. This comes at a time when questions are being raised from many corners about the importance and efficiency of marketing. Marketing has been the favorite whipping boy of financial whiz kids for a long time. Finance views marketing as a cost center, whose ROI is a question mark? I recently attended a conference where one domestic consumer company claimed that they have been immensely successful in the Indian market without any effort on brand building. They emphasized the importance of distribution and good product quality. I guess these questions will remain for some time to come. However, as the examples above demonstrate, there is no going back on the belief that what separates the men from the boys in the fiercely competitive market place, is marketing.

We all know that there are many facets of marketing and employing the right marketing mix is of paramount importance. In some markets, product quality and brand building may be the only solution, where as in other markets, distribution is of significant importance. Whichever factors are employed, consumer insight will remain the key to success or failure of organizations across the globe.

Author: Rahul Gupta Choudhury

Mr. Rahul G. ChoudhuryMr. Rahul G. Choudhury is currently an Associate Professor – Marketing at IFIM B-School, Bangalore. His fields of expertise include Marketing Management, Marketing Strategy, Sales and Distribution and Business Research. He has over 15 years of corporate work experience and 9 years of academic experience.