At a young age an ambition driven Saptarshi Nath, an entrepreneur with a simple goal made high-quality consumer electronics available to everyone. His brain-child Overcart manages customer returns of business ventures and liquidates their unsold stock directly to end-consumers and smaller retailers, in the categories of cameras, mobile phones, laptops, games and accessories. Here’s an insight into the mind of the man himself.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE EPISODE
- Evolution and Growth of Overcart.
- Analysis of an ongoing process of competitive ecommerce venture.
- Life Changing Decision – “Quitting a cushy job”.
- The insider’s resources: entrepreneurial hacks used by Overcart.
Quotes and Takeaways
- Analyzing competition is always an ongoing process and isn’t that different for start-ups.
- Once you know what you stand for, everything you do or say must align with that vision.
- Every day, you make new mistakes and learn new things.
- There are many smaller instances of snap decision-making that determined the future of the company, but many of these decisions are not serendipitous—they come from months of observation and experiments.
How did you get you conception for Overcart? What motivation did you have for it?Tell us the idea behind Bootstrapp. Why did you and Alexander Souter come up with this idea? Did you find a market for it?
My co-founder, Alex and I spent close to a decade in consulting. We were also geeks who loved technology products. That said, in India, buying current-generation electronics is expensive. We did a lot of market analysis and finally launched the first avatar of Overcart: a portal for gamers to trade games and electronics. Customers could trade in their old products for credits to help buy new ones—we’d provide all the logistical support including door-step pickup of the old product and delivery of the new.
We realized early on that we’d need to diversify outside of gaming, and we did that pretty quickly. As we scaled the business, we realized that door-step pickups were quite demanding on our (then) infrastructure. At the same time, e-commerce companies were just starting to get worried about customer returns. So, we began working with them to help build a returns and liquidation process. We realized that a huge proportion of these products were functionally perfect: the trick was to determine which ones could be certified for re-sale. We invested significant time, effort, and money to set up our quality infrastructure to ensure that our customers get the best products for the best price, without compromising on quality.
What are the best ways to analyse the companies which compete with a startup in the market?
Analyzing competition is always an ongoing process and isn’t that different for startups. You’ve to realize that you’re solving a problem for someone—be it individual consumers or large companies. How you solve the problem differentiates you from others in the same space. All companies in our space are still evolving and experimenting—and as a startup, it is infinitely better to focus on your own execution than on the strategies of competitors.
Which were the small subsets which led to unexpected turns in the business?Which were those small decisions you took in your startup journey that led to unexpected turning points in your life.
One of the downsides of start-up life is that you usually don’t have the time to reflect on small events. I think the first decision that impacted our future was quitting a cushy job to focus on the company full time—we had been running the business for a few months before we went full time. It was an evening over drinks when Alex and I decided it was time to take the plunge. It wasn’t a small decision for us, but it literally took a five second conversation to determine that it is the right time to take the step.
There are many smaller instances of snap decision-making that determined the future of the company, but many of these decisions are not serendipitous—they come from months of observation and experiments. And sometimes, a simple visit to a client’s warehouse.
What entrepreneurial hacks have you developed to stay focused and keep your day productive?
Staying focused and productive is probably the most difficult challenge most entrepreneurs face in the early stages of their business.
For founders, it’s essential to build a team that can make decisions on its own, so your time is utilized for tasks that will impact the future of the company. Thankfully, there are some great apps out there to help you organize your time. Personally, I depend on Wunderlist, an app that helps manage my tasks and Evernote, another app that I use for note-taking. The team at Overcart uses Slack for internal communication and Podio for collaborative projects that helps me stay updated on what’s happening across different departments without needing to spend time in update meetings.
How is the way you think as a leader to process information affecting your organizational culture?
Alignment between founders on the kind of organizational culture you want to build, is an imperative to building a sustainable company. Once you know what you stand for, everything you do or say must align with that vision.
One of the pillars of our organizational culture is providing ownership at a very early stage. Opportunities that you receive at Overcart will force you to go beyond your comfort zone. We are not replicating what others have done before: so we have to run experiments quickly and efficiently to identify the best way forward. Personally, I encourage our teams to try what they think, what will work and iterate on it until it actually does.
You said you were thinking around with the idea of importing classic cars from England/France. Are you still having thoughts of it?
Hehe, back when we started out, that was the second business plan we had in mind, in case our first venture didn’t work out. Since then, we haven’t given a thought about it but we still love cars. So, I wouldn’t rule that out! (Come to think of it, refurbished cars from France sounds like a good addition to our expanding categories!)
Can you tell us the reason why you hold to being an entrepreneur?
Being an entrepreneur is exciting because you can see something you built take a life of its own. Every day, you make new mistakes and learn new things. You see your team taking on new responsibilities and evolving with the company. When we started out, it was the two founders, one employee, and a basement office. Today, we have 80 employees and offices in Delhi and Bangalore. It is all-together different, than what a regular high-paying job will give you in return.