The man behind ShoeVival: Shashank Bharadwaj | SupportBiz

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The man behind ShoeVival: Shashank Bharadwaj

Bangalore-based ShoeVival is a laundry of a different kind – it launders shoes! Set up in the Vidyaranyapura area in September 2011 by Shashank Bharadwaj and Chitra Ambarish, ShoeVival has seen a steady growth over the past six months. ShoeVival has crossed the initial hurdles that a start-up faces with elan, and boasts of a 2,000-odd customer base at present.

In an exclusive interview with SupportBiz, business partner Shashank tells us about how it is to be the man behind this unique venture, the challenges that he faces, and his proudest moments as an entrepreneur.

1. How long has ShoeVival been in operation?

ShoeVival came into existence on September 1, 2011. It has been in operation for about six months now.

2. How has your experience as an entrepreneur been so far?

It has been a thrilling journey. Business was slow initially, but once people understood exactly what we do and the efficiency of our services, it picked up. We have a customer base of approximately 2000-odd at the moment. We are all set to enter a tie-up with the famous Bandbox laundry.

3. What were you doing prior to establishing ShoeVival?

Prior to ShoeVival, I was working with CNBC’s TV18 as a news producer. When the pressures of corporate life became too much to bear, I decided to take a break. It was during this break that I went to New Zealand to do my post-graduation.

4. How did you come up with the unique concept of ShoeVival?

When I returned to Bangalore after completing my studies in New Zealand and working there for a short while, I was looking for a professional cleaner for my shoes. However, I was disappointed in this regard. I realized that there was huge business potential in this area, and decided to set up a shoe laundry.

5. Why did you choose Bangalore to set up ShoeVival?

Bangalore is my hometown, so it was naturally my first choice when it came to selecting a business location. Incidentally, Bangalore has the largest middle-class population, which I felt was ideal for my kind of business. Contrary to what people believe, ShoeVival is not a niche service provider for the elite class. We cater largely to the middle-class. We want everyone to wear clean footwear, and our service is for everyone who can afford to buy a pair of shoes worth INR3,000-4,000.

6. What are your biggest challenges as a small-scale start-up?

Our biggest challenge is marketing. Since the concept of ShoeVival is rather unique and difficult to explain and understand, marketing becomes a little tough. It was tough to get our first few customers, but once we had served them, it was a smoother ride from thereon.

7. What have been your best learnings as an entrepreneur?

I do not come from a business family, so whatever I have learnt about business was hands-on. With what must sound like a bizarre business proposal, raising finances was an uphill task. I would say that learning to raise finances was my best learning as an entrepreneur, closely followed by innovative marketing.

8. What advice would you give to a potential entrepreneur?

A B-school can give you a degree in business, but an entrepreneur needs to have hands-on knowledge on various aspects of business: raising funds, managing finances, cost cutting, marketing, research, and so on. Only a person who is willing to learn these things hands-on would make a successful entrepreneur.