Allowing any brand, from a large technology based to a mid-sized enterprise to leverage merchandise as a means to build the brand, is Jivity. Mukund Mohan, CEO, Jivity shares the brands’ journey as well as aspirations for future.
Abha Garyali (AG): What inspired you to venture into an online store with ‘Jivity’? How has been the journey of the brand so far?
Mukund Mohan (MM): The Company allows any brand (from a blogger to an author, from a large technology company to a mid-sized enterprise) to leveraged merchandise as a means to build their brand. This has come as an outcome for brands that could be built by leveraging merchandise. Most small companies cannot afford advertising to build their brand, so we had to look for alternative options. So far we have grown dramatically in the nine months of being in business. Over 50 brands including companies like DELL, MindTree, Ford, etc have all leveraged our online and retail stores to build their brand.
AG: When and what motivated you to adopt the franchise route for expansion? Where do you see the brand in five years?
MM: We adopted the franchise model to expand operations to give us quick expansion all over India. We see the large opportunity among small and mid-sized companies. To enable these companies which need a local person to help with customising the merchandise, strategy planning and brand development, we chose the franchise route. In five years we will be a $150 million business with 12,500 franchisees in more than 600 cities and towns in India.
AG: How is Jivity different from other social commerce companies? What is its USP?
MM: Our technology platform allows a brand to customise and get their online store up and running in less than two minutes. We have invested heavily in making our platform easy for franchisees to operate and manage and track their commissions in a quick and simple way. We are the only merchandise company that offers customisation of our merchandise in a range of over 200 different categories of products and over 2,500 products.
AG: Do other social websites pose a challenge for you? What strategies have you adopted to face this competition?
MM: Social websites are our partners, leveraging their connections to build a brand more effectively is what we do. Our competition is local unorganised players in the bulk order business. They tend not to have brand management and brand development experience and have not invested in their technology platform.
AG: What according to you is the scope for aspiring franchisees in this business? Is the future of this industry bright in the years to come?
MM: Online brand merchandising is the fastest growing part of e-commerce in India. Over 200+ million users are expected online to buy merchandise (non travel) worth over $5 billion in India by 2015. It is by far the fastest growing, the largest and the most exciting franchise business.
AG: How many franchisees do you have presently? What are your future expansion plans?
MM: We currently have franchisees in top six metros and are looking to expand our presence in these as well at other cities.
AG: What are the qualities and qualifications that you seek for in your franchisees? How much investment is required by aspiring franchisees?
MM: There are no specific educational qualifications required. People having cordial relations with multiple marketing agencies and companies are preferred for partnership. Initial investment in building a sales pipeline tends to be about Rs two–three lakh. No investment in inventory is required from franchisees.
AG: How does the company support and train franchisees?
MM: We organise both regional and city wise trainings every month. Online training with videos is available for self paced learning. We have 24 hour franchise support line for all franchisees. We offer e-mail, phone and web based support for both questions and sales related opportunities. We provide a target list of companies and possible targets in any given city / town for all franchisees.
AG: What challenges do you see for your franchises? How can they overcome the challenges?
MM: Building an active sales pipeline and developing local brands is the biggest challenge for all franchisees. The way we help them is to provide them active training in spotting and managing brands. We also provide a regional target list of possible brands to grow and manage.