Prior to launching Frapperz, Rimjhim co-founded Unmarketeer where she has worked with several startups and corporate to strategize their digital footprint. Rimjhim was previously Business Head at the Leo Burnett group. She worked for several years in the UK with companies including TCS and Tata Communications, where she led the acquisition and integration of new businesses. Rimjhim dropped out of her MBA at Imperial College, London to stand by her family in a period of crisis. Later she opted for an MBA at SPJIMR, Mumbai.
Rimjhim is also an author. Her first book, ‘7 Women. 7 Secrets’ was launched at the Kolkata International Book Fair. She has often been ranked as a top influencer on Twitter, writes for The Huffington Post and also contributes to several other publications. Rimjhim loves trekking and has a marathon or two under her belt.
Rimjhim Ray in an interview with Suman Prasad, spoke in length about different aspects of her venture Frapperz which she started with her husband – Jyotirmay, learnings from their first venture – Unmarketeer, about her recently launched book, future plans and other interesting details.
Excerpts from the interview.
On the the idea to start Frapperz
Frapperz is a community based home improvement startup which brings together professionals, products, ideas and designs. It is India’s first home and living community targeted at people who are setting up or managing their homes. Frapperz is built on a browse-talk-book principle. After launching the first version of Frapperz, 4 months ago we have now launched Frapperz Lounge.
Frapperz Lounge is a geo-tagged online community where advice, experience, stories, updates around your home and local communities come together. Frapperz Lounge lets users browse through curated offerings, catalogues, content from leading professionals in this space and get advice from experts and other users. Through our powerful video technology, consulting with anyone anywhere becomes easy. Users can also book the right professionals through bidding and matching platform for their next home project.
As a couple, Jyotirmay (JK) and I, we have stayed all over the world. We have moved across UK, Kenya, Switzerland, Finland to name a few places. We realized that setting up and maintaining a home anywhere is a challenge. Frapperz is our initiative to address this challenge. By connecting you to professionals and other residents near you in a community backed platform Frapperz makes sure that you are no longer groping in the dark when it comes to creating a warm, comfortable home. We could generally abstract the key problems we faced in setting up our own homes, across several places, into a few key learnngs which we have used to build Frapperz.
On taking risk to embrace entrepreneurship
One thing was common in us – both hate peace. We have the devil’s workshop in our minds even though they are never idle. This devil constantly makes us question status quo and try new adventures. We have moved across places in the UK, Switzerland, Finland, Kenya, Germany to name a few. We had plenty of opportunity to settle down to a peaceful life in India or abroad. I think entrepreneurship was always in us. For some time we debated on the right time to jump in. And then when we were in the UK, my mother-in-law was affected with cancer. It was an advanced, 4th stage one which she eventually recovered from. But it jolted us enough as we were suddenly facing questions of mortality. We realized that there is no right time to jump in. You have to do it now.
In fact when we were thinking about Frapperz, I was also expecting my first child. We cannot really predict the future but our conviction is to stand till the end. Add to it the strong initial response to Frapperz and we believe this is a platform that is here to stay.
Audience response to Frapperz after launch
We are in operation for around 4 months now. The response has been overwhelming. The app has registered nearly 20000 downloads. We have always believed in the same mantra – new things will be a part of life of people only if they make lives better. We believe so far we have been able to make people happy. We see about 66% returning visitors in our web-app. We receive continuous flow of service requests in our mobile app. This is possible only if we have been able to add value with our offerings.
Key learnings from Unmarketeer that helped you establish Frapperz
Unmarketeer has been one hell of a journey – we have had a lot of fun making it happen. But I don’t want to gloss over the uncertainty of being a first time entrepreneur by saying it is all fun. JK and I went through quite a bit of struggle to get Unmarketeer up on its feet and make it a rock-solid proposition. Our professional backgrounds helped but still as an entrepreneur you basically start from scratch. You are the only brand name as there’s no ‘large company’ tag. We overcame this problem and went on to work with some cool brands and innovative startups and crafted some memorable campaigns. I guess a lot of that learning of scaling up marketing for others is helping us in Frapperz. We have been able to acquire customers at average costs which are way below the online/ecommerce industry average.
Making tough decisions in life
Yes, giving up the Imperial MBA was a difficult decision. I did go through a phase of depression but I guess the strongest point for us as a couple has been supporting each other. JK and I always talk a lot to each other, pulling us up each time we are down. The encouragement acted as a springboard and I was taking on life again. As I said both of us hate inertia. We hate feeling helpless about a situation. ‘If there’s an itch, that needs to be scratched. If it’s broken, it got to be fixed’ is our mantra.
About ‘7 Women 7 Secrets’
7 Women 7 Secrets released in February and the response has been very strong. The book is published by the Times Group. The first edition of the book is sold out in 2 months. It trended as a best-seller in the Indian fiction list on Amazon. The book explores the many facets of a woman, her relationships, her infidelities, her digressions. It challenges the notion of ‘Sita, Sati, Savitri’ as the ideal woman. A lot of my personal experience and interactions with real women shaped the book. The book is therefore very raw in parts, very real, very relatable.
On being a Twitter ‘Influencer’ and how this word has lost its charm in last few years
I think yes, the word ‘influencer’ has lost its charm, especially with most of the so-called influencers tweeting about Hajmola one day and a political party they know nothing about on another day. Planted influencer campaigns and ‘influencers’ not standing for an ideology has diluted the tag. I still think that social media is a very powerful medium but yes we have to be careful about how we use it or how we come across on it.
Frapperz in the next 5 years
5 years is a long, long time. But we are invested in this for the long term and hope to have built a platform which makes people happy and solves genuine problems for them. Technically we are focused on creating permanent IPR. And of course we want to build solid returns for everyone who believes in the platform – customers, partner businesses, the team and our investors.
Advice for people who wants to be a genuine entrepreneur
If you are still thinking about it, you are probably not going to be an entrepreneur. A lot of entrepreneurship is about jumping into the water and then learning to swim. But as JK would say don’t ignore the most important aspect of a startup – that’s your cash in hand. Because the last thing you want to do is burn out and go back on your startup dreams. Stay in it for the long term and it can be really – one hell of a story (quoting one my favorite lines from ‘Gravity’).