FirstCry – From Fathers to Successful Entrepreneurs is a story of two friends Supam Maheshwari and Amitava Saha who had a tough time buying baby care products for their first child. While for most others it would just be another pain point, Maheshwari found a business opportunity in his problem. Finding the right baby care products certainly are a hard task for generally young parents today and he wanted to set up a business to address this section.

They both used to travel abroad in their previous jobs and during that time only they both had become fathers. As choices for baby products in India were fairly narrow around eight years ago, they used to buy a lot of stuff for their kids from abroad. They discovered a prospect in this and thus conceptualised

baby products

The business idea that was germinated in 2001 ultimately became a reality in 2010 when Maheshwari and his friend Amitava Saha founded an e-commerce portal that began by providing a range of 4,000 branded baby care products.

Maheshwari and Saha pooled in some money as opening investment in the new business and spent a lot of time in designing the portal efficiently and setting up a supply chain. The duo also spent substantial time researching on consumer behaviour, something that facilitated them when they ultimately got the ball rolling.

Unlike other e-retailers they decided to franchise their brand, so that it could be seen in stores. They opted for franchise model fairly recently in 2012 and already opened six stores in cities like Bhilai, Haridwar, Dehradun, Kanpur, Bharuch etc.

As they were getting a great response on their online shopping stores, a deliberation struck to them that most of the people in the Tier 3 cities might not be open to buying online. So they adopted the franchise model to open retail outlets.

They got a few inquiries and were determined to partner with few creative, like-minded professionals and opened these franchise stores.

Their game plan or let’s say their five year plan is very straightforward. They said, “have this inherent desire to be omnipresent. When people think of baby products, the first name that should come to their mind should be ‘FirstCry’. This is what motivates us to work hard” also has an added segment whereby they lure consumers to shop online and that is through FirstCry discount coupons. It is a well-designed website that can be accessed by everyone and has offers displayed on the homepage for the convenience of the user. What makes as unique as there are other brand names in the market catering to the same segment?

They have the largest numbers of Stock Keeping Units (SKU’s) and they offer the leading assortment of products. They also put in close to 200 SKU’s on an everyday basis. It is like a megastore for parents. From maternity wear to accessories for nursery, clothes for kids till the age of 9, diapers, school gear, toys, strollers, prams, car seats etcetera, they have it all.

They are the one stop shop for all baby requirements. Most retail stores for kids do not stock a diverse SKU. If it is a clothes outlet, consumer would find clothes only of that brand or maybe toys. Their USP is that they present a grand customer experience and an astounding variety at the most reasonably priced products.

There are way too many portals which have opened in recent times and have created their loyal customers but their team stands out in delivering an exceptional consumer experience right from ordering to speedy delivery with immense convenience and thus generating very high recurring purchase behaviour.

Another competitive means is offline world where there are a small number of organised players and so with their integrated offline franchisee partners and online retailing – they stand to achieve a lot more than their competition.

They are convinced in this line of business that depression will never have an effect on it. People will carry on having kids and the requirement for kids products will forever be there. And what sets them apart is the superiority of products that they put forward. So yes, the potential of this business is bright! With a payback of 18-24 months, their franchisee partners would grow a lot along with them in starting this business.

They had six franchisees in 2012 and aimed at expansion plans and whereby they wanted to open at least 50 franchisees by end of 2013.The duo had tied-up with over 300 brands such as Disney, Barbie, Funskool, Zapak, Huggies, Farlin, Pampers, Hotwheels etcetera and to their surprise got a good number of orders in the initial two months.

Though they haven’t thought of establishing retail stores yet but spreading wings to newer markets is very much in their aspiration list. While Saha adeptly administers business expansion and marketing across Indian markets, Maheshwari is the idea tree thinking about new plans and looks after the financial section.

As their business across portals stabilises and they reach new markets in India, they further plan to venture into other Asian markets like Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka etcetera.

They fund their ambitious development plan and to strengthen its incidence across a variety of markets, the company has been talking to few venture capital firms to raise up to $10 million. For Maheshwari, who previously has tasted accomplishment as an entrepreneur in his previous venture Brainvisa, convincing VCs about this venture might be easier.

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