‘The Lost Founder Series’ today’s story is about the e-card startup InksEdge story. Let’s know the reason behind the failure of an e-card startup, the reason behind shutting down, the economic impact, overall impact on the industry and the mistakes they made which led the start-up toward Death Valley. “The Lost Founders” is a series in which we will discuss the start-up stories and the reason behind the biggest failure of the start-ups. Let’s begin with the online platform of e-card startup InksEdge story behind the failure – the Indian start-ups’ shutdown in 2017.
Founder(s): Anuja Ranjane, Rohini Chakravarthy
Category: E-card platform
Closed in: Nov 9, 2017
Funding: The startup raised $1.5 Million (INR 9 Cr) amount of fund as seed funding in March 2016 from New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Pinnacle Ventures and Milliways Ventures. Some of their investors were Anil Kamath, Gokul Rajaram, Mark Perry, Nickhil Jakatdar.
Bengaluru-based startup InksEdge was an online DIY e-card platform customized for Birth announcements, Kids Birthday Party Invitations, Diwali cards, Christmas cards, New Year cards, Holiday Party Invitations. InksEdge was a DIY (do it yourself) online e-cards platform from where the users can select any design and drop their pictures with the message or select any personalize greeting cards according to their needs. Then the cards were couriered to the customer’s address.
Well, the major loss is to the employment sector, the job opportunities raised by the startups also demolished with that startup too. A pure loss for investors and the initial amount invested by the co-founders all got in vain. Major competition of Inksedge was with the multi-brand gift card store Giftbig.com, a Bengaluru-based company. The reason behind shut-down remained unclear and the decision informed when the startup failed in raising the required follow-on funding to sustain their operations.
As we always discuss the loss of employment cause it is linked in many ways other than sitting job done by the workers, the loss of employment. Due to the shutting down of the InksEdge, employees lose their jobs.
“The company, which offered about 2,000 products, competed with the likes of Evite and Tinyprints for a pie of the estimated $2-billion global cards industry,” according to a report in The Economic Times in March said.
Some reviews about the start-up who had dealt with the companies in past, in short, their old customers and employees describing their experience with the company. Some of their past customer’s reviews were satisfying that they were happy with the customer service. Although there is no such negative review about the startup, in fact, the users were recommending their services. So the customers were satisfied with the InksEdge startup. Rest the review itself explains the entire story of the start-up. Below are some reviews:
“…great startup…lots of opportunities to learn and contribute…teams work together and are motivated to perform their best…great location to work…” – an ex-employee
“…I have nothing but praises for Inksedge creations…loved the design and even more in love and impressed when I received them in the mail…super pleasant experience connecting and collaborating with the team at Inksedge…packaging was wow- very impeccable and professional…” – a customer
“…healthy work environment…helpful and understanding management…supportive team members… a lot of projects to work on…sometimes deadlines can be stressful… but had creative freedom to experiment and learn…” – an ex-employee
“…wonderful site…really helpful…cooperative and patient staff…quick service of the samples as well as the cards…got the cards printed just how I wanted it…loved the quality, the work, everything…will definitely recommend InksEdge to everybody…currently the best online invitation card shop…they do a fantastic job…” – a customer
According to the LinkedIn profile of the InksEdge owners, it showcases that Rohini Chakravarthy is still associated with the venture. The other co-founder, Anuja Ranjane has now joined Walmart’s global ecommerce division in February as a senior product manager. But according to her LinkedIn account, she was a part of the InksEdge venture until April.
Lack of Proper Outlining:
The e-card is not a strong market currently, the wedding cards, are provided by the particular designers; exist already and for the corporate events, the manager designs the card themselves. If the startup was targeting a specific segment of a specified category than the customers are required, whereas the demand for such stuff should be high. The startup InksEdge was at very niche level and if they focused on that particular specific segment than they were lacking in terms of customers. Other than this birthday, valentine and any other occasion cards are available at the brand Archies, Hallmarks etc. why people wait for this much for such services and the services they were providing a photo with the message on the card are also available at various places.
Another point is they expand their business in two different countries, where both the house’s market is different in many ways. According to their LinkedIn profile, one headquarter was in Northern California and offices/teams in India. This is quite confusing where their operations were running exactly, according to some sites they were working in both the region but it is not very clear. Let say if they were earning from California and their operations were joint operations for both the countries than it is difficult to sustain their expenses when their customers are totally different according to the region. The startup when it was at a niche level then they should have focused on a particular area to sustain their business successfully rather than expanding it in two different countries. If they wanted to expand their business then they should expand only in India otherwise in other cities of the US region.
Where did InksEdge Lack?
During the reign of InksEdge, the co-founders were also associated with other companies too. When a startup begins it is necessary to pay heed to the startup. InksEdge was a niche level startup and if the founder was not able to give his/her full time then it is very challenging to sustain the business. For a startup, the founder needs the passion, the zeal to grow the work other than the expertise. As the InksEdge co-founders were also working in different companies other than InksEdge. Employees can’t handle the work same as the founders of any startup, so just involvement of the co-founders in the startup was not enough if they’re working as a part-time.
The Area where InksEdge can expand:
People are not very much aware of the product to use this platform very frequently. In coming years the trend will change people will use such medium but right now there is no awareness of such product use. Specifically, the e-cards used by the corporate planners for their corporate events, whereas such product service is provided by the event management team hired by the corporates for their events, such services already budgeted in the same packages. Moreover used in the wedding, so for such purpose, specific wedding planners provide the same services as this is also included as a service of theirs. So why anyone expends more on the same services whereas it is easily available with other services in the budgeted package.
They can focus on the B2B business model rather than focusing on the B2C business model. The B2B business model would be more relevant to their business despite focusing on business to the client they can easily focus to business to business, where they can approach any corporate event management company, wedding planner company, etc. The corporate event management company, wedding planner company are working in this particular area they have lots of clients so they would have easily tied-up with the team and it could be more beneficial for them in the long-term growth. They missed the opportunity cost, they had the opportunity to earn the profit but they lose although they had not the amount in hand there is a chance they could earn. Their market might be had the chance to increase if they go with the B2B business model but they lose the opportunity.
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Anuja Ranjane, Craft Driven Market Research, CraftDriven, DIY, InksEdge, market research, Milliways Ventures, New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Pinnacle Ventures, Rohini Chakravarthy, satrtups, The Lost Founder series, The Lost Founders