Business services Sep, 06 2010

Picture perfect franchise opportunity

By Ramanjit Kaur
Picture perfect franchise opportunity

ZoomIn, an online and offline service destination enables customers to store, share and print their digital photos easily and affordably. In an interview, Sunny Balijepalli, Founder and CEO, ZoomIn shares the origin, growth and future plans of his company.

Ramanjit Kaur (RK): Could you please shed some light on the origin, growth and success of ZoomIn?

Sunny Balijepalli (SB): India has a visual culture with deep family bonds. Photos are perfect visual representation for the celebrations of those moments of magic every family experiences. That combined with the fact that due to globalisation people are moving apart in different cities, and different countries around the world made for the perfect opportunity for a service that connects people through photos. We therefore, created a service that allows families to securely share photos with anyone around the world and also created treasured prints and gifts that can be sent anywhere.

RK: What is ZoomIn all about? What kind of services it offers?

SB: ZoomIn is a popular destination for the following reasons:

  • For celebrating and sharing life’s moments – defined as baby’s first steps, a wedding, first day at school, a memorable holiday, celebrate love, a reunion.
  • A 24-hour gift shop for creating personalised gifts such as calendars, t-shirts, mugs, photo books using photos, themes or personal messages. 
  • Convenience through ordering photo prints for delivery to any doorstep in India, US, UK and Canada.
  • A small company wishing to create personal and memorable gift for its employees or business partners. 

ZoomIn has built a world class platform and online infrastructure for photo sharing, and printing.

RK: What inspired ZoomIn to take the franchise route to expand the business in India?

SB: We decided to expand via franchise route because it offers quick and sustainable growth and also typically franchisees are owner as well as managers who have a greater appetite for growth.

RK: What are the eligibility criteria for selecting the franchisees of the company?

SB: For franchised outlets, the space required lies between 350 to 500 sq. ft with an investment of Rs five to 10 lakh, which is based on the size of the store and the infrastructure required.

We are keen to partner with existing photo retailers with a loyal customer base. ZoomIn can bring in the right technology and the product experience to ensure that existing photo retailers can grow their business significantly.

RK: How many franchised outlets do you presently have? What are your future target locations to expand?

SB: We currently have one franchise partner in Warden Road, Mumbai. Additionally, we have six shop-in-shops in partnership with Crossword Bookstore located in Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad and Kolkata. We are exploring opportunities in Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Delhi and Kolkata.

RK: What kind of training and support does a franchisee get after partnering with your company?

SB: Our training modules involve classroom and on-job training about ZoomIn products, software involved in creating products, and POS skills. The initial training session is supplemented with training documents and on going refresher courses, along with the product samples, sales tips and more.

RK: Have you faced any challenges while establishing your business? If yes, what were they and how did you overcome those challenges?

SB: ZoomIn is a service built in India, for India serving a diaspora that is connected through memories and their celebrations through photos. Our challenges included those that any innovative start-up would encounter trying to break ground. We built our infrastructure of logistics and on-time worldwide delivery of products through lot of learning and filtering for reliability. We also learnt that Indians are much more comfortable paying with cash and introduced new payment methods to tackle this challenge. Finally, widespread broadband usage was an issue and we had to introduce innovative offline tools to upload photos that were not bandwidth intensive.

RK: Any advice for the young entrepreneurs?

SB: An aspiring entrepreneurs needs to:

  • Be passionate about what s/he does
  • Be patient
  • Be sure there is a market for the product / service that s/he would like to offer
  • Be frugal in how s/he spends his/her financial resources
  • Attract the right talent in the early days of his/her start-up because they in turn will attract the right people with whom s/he can build a great business 

RK: What are the future plans of the company in terms of expansion through franchising?

SB: We will continue to expand our product range to include innovative canvasses and materials for users to celebrate their memories. We also have plans to explore new avenues for distribution, in total we are looking at 25+ retail points by the end of this year. This would be a mix of franchised, company owned and shop-in-shop retail locations.

Related: Treat franchisees as brand ambassadors

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