SupportBiz presents an exclusive chat with Shubhra Chaddha, the founder of Chumbak, which is well-known not only in Bangalore but throughout the country.
How long has Chumbak been in operation?
We started in March 2010. That makes us almost two years old.
What were you doing prior to starting Chumbak?
Before starting Chumbak, I worked for several years in the field of marketing. I have worked with firms like Nortel.
How did you come up with the idea of starting Chumbak?
As a part of my marketing career, I travelled to several places within India and abroad. I loved the travelling, and as a souvenir of these places, I always used to bring back a fridge magnet depicting them. I was once looking for a souvenir, particularly a fridge magnet, from India – something that would represent India – and I was highly disappointed. A little bit of research revealed that we were sorely lacking in that field. I started Chumbak as a means to bridge that gap. I wanted to create souvenirs that would spell out ‘India’ in different forms and colours, which would, at the same time, be modern and quirky.
In 2007, I took a break from my corporate career as I entered into a new phase of life with motherhood. It was during this period that I started thinking of starting my own venture, doing something that I loved. That was how Chumbak was born.
How did you decide on the name ‘Chumbak’?
‘Chumbak’ means ‘magnet’ in Hindi. Since the idea of the business venture started thanks to a fridge magnet, I thought it would be an apt name. Moreover, the name was funky and had a nice ring to it, and it suited the products that I planned to sell as a part of the brand.
Do you have any retail outlets presently?
No, we do not have an exclusive retail outlet of our own yet. We have tie-ups with about 150 stores throughout India, who stock our products. We also have a tie-up with a store in Japan, for providing a retail outlet for our products. In addition, we have a small presence in the US.
Any plans of setting up an exclusive retail outlet?
Yes, I do plan to set up an exclusive retail outlet, but that will take some time to happen.
How big is your team at the moment?
Presently, we have a team of three, including myself. We also have a team of 10 people at our warehouse.
Which are your most popular products?
I think our boxer shorts, fridge magnets, bobbleheads and passport holders are the most popular.
What has been your proudest moment as an entrepreneur?
Every day, I get a lot of feedback mails from our customers. Most of them state how happy and satisfied they are with our products, and how different our products are from other stores, and how much they love our brand. This makes me feel the most satisfied and proud, as an entrepreneur.
In spite of being such a small team of 13 individuals, we get a lot of job applications for different positions. That is so very flattering, at the same time making me feel humble.
I know we are quite popular in Bangalore, but I recently realised how popular we are in Mumbai as well. We had a stall at the Kala Ghoda festival in Mumbai this year, and we heard people shrieking in delight on seeing it. That made me so happy and proud!
Whenever I visit Japan and see people buying our products, I realise that Chumbak has an international appeal and, as a brand, has reached out beyond the country’s borders. This, too, makes me feel proud and happy about Chumbak.
What are the major challenges that you face, as a small-scale entrepreneur?
The major challenge that I face as a small-scale entrepreneur has to be lack of time. I have had to learn everything – from arranging for logistics and paperwork to packaging and registration. Being an entrepreneur is an extremely satisfying journey, and you learn a lot along the way, but it is not easy. I would love to operate with a bigger team, hire more people, but that is not possible at the moment.
What advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur?
To an aspiring entrepreneur, I would say – ‘Be ready to get your hands dirty.’ You will have to do and learn a lot of things in the course of your journey, and you should be prepared for it.
You have to be prepared to invest yourself 100 percent in your business. You have to be prepared to give up the security of a plush corporate job, if you are in one. Sometimes, whether or not you will have your next meal depends on how far you are ready to go to make your venture a success – that is the level of commitment that you will need.
Lastly, I would say – ‘Believe in your business. Trust your idea.’
Corporate Website: www.chumbak.com