Everything is getting online. From vegetables to groceries. From food to furniture. Would you like if you get all type of food online? From snacks to sweets to fast food? A Surat based entrepreneur is just doing that. He has created online store- Apka Chotu, where you’ll get sweets, snacks and meals. Surat city is known for its food. And Apka Chotu will be known for serving Surti delicacies to the world as per the founder, Amit Sankhla. Have a look at our conversation with Amit Sankhla.
Who is Amit Sankhala? Introduce yourself.
I completed my Post graduation from J P Dawar Institute of Information Technology, Surat in 2006. After that I worked for 4 years in Pune in Web Designing and development. Then I started my own IT company.
Besides that I am a foodie and I love to travel.
Tell us about your venture Apka Chotu
Apkachotu.com was made to deliver the tasty food of Surat to any foodie like me, living in or outside Surat. This website is a platform for all small retailers/ wholesalers to sell their product online. We want to distribute Surat’s famous Farsan, Sweets and Bakery items to everyone in Surat, across India and even to other countries.
Why did you choose business over job & how did you start your business?
I started my company in 2010 because I wanted to do something new in eCommerce business. Being a foodie, I always felt that there was a lack of quality and variety in food that I can get online and get it delivered to my doorstep. That’s the reason behind the formation of Apkachotu.com. It was always my dream to be a successful entrepreneur and with this business I am following that dream.
We started by collecting information about various brands in different categories of food and started approaching them. We are getting good response from the suppliers. We now have over 20 brands listed on our website. I designed the website on my own. I made it very simple and made it so that it was easy for the user to find/choose the products.
How much time and money did it cost to initiate this venture?
We have worked very hard on this product. Since December 2014 we have invested 2 to 2.5 lakhs in the project. All of it was invested in activities like Marketing, Delivery setup, Resourse setup, etc. The website didn’t cost anything but time, as we developed it ourselves.
How did you manage initial funds?
The initial funds were from my IT company. All the earnings from my IT business are poured into Apkachotu.com.
How big your team is?
Right now, we have 5 members in the Team. 1 brand manager, 2 delivery boys, 1 customer support executive and 1 operation Manager. The team size is likely to increase with the work load.
How is Apka Chotu different from competitors?
Most of the eCommerce websites focus mainly on Restaurants. We are focusing on the smaller segments like Farsan, Sweets, Mukhwas, etc. This is the main difference. Our aim is to promote local vendors online and help in increasing their sales. We are dedicated to delivering the products on time and at the same rate that other retailers are selling. So it will be cost effective for the customers. We are always eager for feedback from our customers and will be working hard to add more and more quality products and services to our website.
What are the biggest challenges of starting up a business?
Farsan and Sweets are items which people prefer to buy on their own. So the biggest challenge is to spread awareness about our services and ensuring that the customers get the same product with the same quality and at the same price.
What keeps you motivated?
Orders :). We are constantly getting orders from Surat and across India. Providing creative products like fancy chocolate items is also something I enjoy. And happy customers are always a bog motivation.
Where do you see Apka Chotu five years down the line?
We want to get Apka Chotu in all corners of India. So by the next 5 years we are expecting to cover at least 10 cities. By then we will be an established business.
How will you compete with giant competitors like Zomato, Swiggy, Dazo?
Our business is different from these big companies. They focus mainly on instant food and restaurant food. There are some competitors like farsankart.com and namkeenwale.in but we are one step ahead of them. We have added snacks to our list of products and we are working very hard on online marketing and improving our customer service. We are constantly trying to increase the range of products that we offer and are also looking into offering special discounts and other facilities to the customers. We want to make it a fun platform and not just another eCommerce website.
What advice would you like to give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Every entrepreneur should have a burning desire for their goals. They have to work hard and give the best possible service to their customers. They should believe in themselves and not pay attention to people who would say “Yeh Idea nahi chalega” (This idea won’t work). Avoid such negative people and do your best to make your product the best. And never compromise on your service.
What’s your opinion on BuddyBits?
BuddyBits is growing bigger day by day and I believe it will be one of the most popular Online Media brands of India soon. My best wishes to Nishit and his team.