Startup > My Story > Vineshkumar Kunhiraman
Vineshkumar Kunhiraman

Vineshkumar Kunhiraman


Short Description

We all have some idea(s) – might be great, innovative but unless we execute it, we would never know its true potential. So believe in yourself and go and execute. Today start-up environment is quite favourable, so you will find a lot of helping hands and support from the community. And even if you face failure, there are lot of doors (companies/opportunities) open a for entrepreneurs like you. So, there is nothing like a dead end.

Brief about company, offerings and foundation of the company

High5store.com is an online mall with a fresh outlook on shopping for exclusive designs. Today online shoppers have a wide array of options to shop online, but on the downside it has affected the overall distinctive factors, or special needs of each individual customer. As a one-stop store for products of varied kinds, we intend to build an online community for designers, manufacturers, curators, retailers who are unable to tap the online market and connect them to local and global consumers. At the other end, buyers can grab hold of the most exotic products from a colossal collection, at our store. And as our company name itself has a social shopping feel, we try our best in making shopping exciting and fun filling for our buyers and sellers. I started the company in August 2012 along with two of my friends as co-founders.

Risks involved in business and way of addressing

Competition is something that cannot be alleviated but since we are focusing on a niche category, the risk level turns out to be minimal. Being into marketplace model, quality check and timely shipment of the products from our sellers need a special attention. To make sure items are shipped on time, we provide sellers with logistics support, arrange pick-ups from their place and make things easier for them. For quality, we plan to introduce photography support for our sellers and help them leverage most out of the display. We also encourage consumer feedback that helps us grow and strengthens our bonding with them.

Most critical decision

For most entrepreneurs, the most critical and difficult decision is to take the final call and start your own venture. I post-graduated from Great Lakes Institute of Management this April with well- paid campus placement job. But then I didn't want to join the bandwagon. I had done the ground-work for High5Store during the college days; so with the support of my family and my co-founder friends, I decided to take-off.

Some of the difficulties faced while building product/ solution

We initially planned to work with freelancer developers and designers to build High5Store shopping site. We identified few guys who had experience in the respective fields. But then the work and the output were not as per our expectations. We were just 1.5 months away from our launch date, so we decided to build everything in-house. Doing things in-house helped us in better understanding of the technology involved and also seemed to be cost effective.

Three big lessons/ mistakes encountered while building company

When we started, we did our biggest mistakes in identifying wrong minds to build our website. But we were fast enough to identify our mistake and resolved it by doing everything in-house. Also currently we are operating from a small office; it doesn’t give much space to the team and brings in constraints. Being a start-up, it would take us sometime to opt for a bigger office.

Different actions if I rebuild my company from scratch all over again

This time we would like to put more impetus on pre-planning, initial team building and branding.

Motivation and Drives factor

As an entrepreneur, the biggest motivating factor is the support from my family. Their support turns out to be a stress buster for me even at the most depressing moments and gives me strength to carry on. Find a job you like and you will never work for a day. High5Store is all that I am passionate about – websites, technology, and retailing. It allows me to innovate more and hone my skills. So, it is always fun and excitement to test , try new things, take risks and move upwards in the learning curve.

Unique about my way of motivating troops
I will describe that in a single word - Fun@Work. I have been doing this for a long time when I previously worked for an Indian IT giant. Having the right environment and culture at work is very important to attract and retain talented individuals. They know that there is something more than work that drives the team to be there on time, work wholeheartedly and give the best output. Moreover, I believe in giving team the freedom to take their own decisions.
Way of choosing my people
The idea is clear that we need individuals who have good knowledge in their respective field and an experience along with it is an add-on advantage. Through job listing in reputed portals, we are able to draw attention of talented individuals. When we browse through the resume, we look for the key areas of our interest and filter out the right ones. We provide them with internal training as it is essential to get good results Also I have mentioned about work environment, I like to mix fun with work.
The challenges and lessons learnt to get first customer
We had lot of brain–storming sessions on our pre-launch work be it website functionalities, UI, initial set of products, different processes like customer and logistics management. This strengthened our seller’s confidence when we first approached them. The challenge in convincing sellers was that we were new and for sellers, it was investing their time and efforts with a start-up. But as our website was LIVE even before launch, we won half of the battle easily. We also did a pre-launch marketing of 3 days in Facebook to get some initial attention. With all this summed-up, High5Store got its within an hour of our launch.
Experience of reaching out to potential investors
We have not approached any investor yet. But in near future, we do plan to do the same.
My role at different dimensions as the company evolved
Being a start-up, I have got opportunities to try different roles – be it that of a strategist, developer, designer, seller and customer relationship executive and at times even that of a delivery boy. I believe in being associated with all functional areas and have a hands-on experience. This helps to do a feasibility check, identify the gaps and execute things in a better manner. Also, I have experience that helps in cost cutting , which is a must for self-funded start-ups.
As a leader how I make sure that I am connecting the right dots
Since High5Store is all about designs, we make sure that all products listed on High5Store strictly suit the design criteria. Before displaying new listing products by our sellers, we have a set of points through which we validate every product and then approve or reject it. Whenever we find there is a great product but it lacks good photography or product description, we inform our sellers and they take it in a very positive manner. Also at high5store, we try to map experiences of different key players involved, know what went right and what went wrong, learn from them and then keep improvising.
My thoughts related to entrepreneurship/ leadership and management
There is no particular time as right or wrong time to set the balls rolling. If you have an idea, you need to validate it, redefine and polish it to make it better and then execute it. That’s when an idea turns into a business. Many want to be entrepreneurs, but only when we get into action is when we become an entrepreneur. Be disciplined and motivated. Only when you are motivated, you can motivate the entire team. For a start-up, initial team plays a crucial role. Make sure you have few experienced ones in the team, respect and believe in the team members, empower the team to take important decisions and build a culture for your workspace.
Best company I admire globally
Zappos, I like to talk a lot about this one company. The way has built the great company is very unique and today many companies try to adopt the good lessons from Zappos. The way Zappos treats its employees, vendors and customers is an example many companies especially in the service sector should look upon. At High5Store, I always talk about Zappos with my team and want to build a similar culture of open and honest relationship with my team, sellers and buyers.
Advice for fellow entrepreneurs
We all have some idea(s)- might be great, innovative but unless we execute it, we would never know its true potential. So believe in yourself and go and execute. Today start-up environment is quite favourable, so you will find a lot of helping hands and support from the community. And even if you face failure, there are lot of doors (companies/opportunities) open a for entrepreneurs like you. So, there is nothing like a dead end.