A Few Customers Who Bought, Said!
Here's some stuff my customer-turned-friends or friends-turned-customers have said :)
Varun, 28, New Delhi
Snehal, XX, Pune
Shantanu, 28, Bangalore
Sreechand Tavva, XX, Bangalore
Aksah Shah, xx, Mumbai
Soumen, XX, Gurgaon
Udit Sood, 21, Queensland, Aus
Saurabh Nigam, 32, Delhi
Anupam, XX, Bangalore
Kunal Shah, x, Mumbai
Om, 29, Chennai
Megha, XX, Delhi
Sayantika, 26, Bangalore
Ashish, 25, Bangalore
Shantanu, XX, Bangalore
Apoorv, 28, Mumbai
Achin, 27, Bangalore
Dushyant Gupta, xx, Bangalore
Nitin, 29, Chandigarh
Shashank, 23, Bangalore
Yogi, 35, Navi Mumbai
Amit, 31, SF
Mudit, XX, Delhi
Anamika Khadikar, xx, Mumbai
Kaps, XX, Pune
Aritra, 27, Bangalore
Prerna, XX, Mumbai
Anagha, xx, Pune
Varun Nagpal, 27, New Delhi
Gaurav Porwal, 28, Hyderabad
Prateek, 29, Bangalore
Disha, XX, Bangalore
Kripa, x, Navi Mumbai
Sonika, xx, Bangalore
Kalpana, XX, Pune
Gaurav, 26, Jaipur
Partha Roy, xx, Bangalore
Vedang, xx, Pune
You are here because ...
1) a loved one of yours told you;
2) you are a customer-turned-friend of mine;
3) you are a friend-turned-customer of mine!
That's it! Toubé Bäs has never put any ads on Google (or else where), neither do I have the money to do such mass advertising! Plus, as Tim Robbins says, "The more advertising I see, the less I want to buy." I think it's so true. Today's media world is over-loaded with messages about selling and buying. I would rather not be a part of that circus.
T-shirt wearers crave for a certain feel of privilege. Meaning ... you do not want just about anyone to wear a t-shirt that you have been sporting so lovingly. You desire exclusivity. That's why I stop selling a particular design after having sold 501 pieces of those.
(That's also why people who visit this site do not use the share button above ... but here's something: share this site with friends of yours who are not close to you geographically!!!)
That design goes into the history books - forever! The 501 people who bought that design ... will be the only bearers of that design - ever!
Naturally, then, things like adverts in the newspapers, pamphlets, strategies like luring customers to "tell 20 friends and win a free t-shirt" are all methods to attract a whole lot of people, but not the kind of customer I hope/want to deal with at Toubé Bäs. A typical Toubé Bäs customer is far more prudent, dignified, and sophisticated than that. Plus, slightly richer as well!
I plan not to worry about the masses, or the huge business opportunity that I lose with them. My concern would be to cater to the few elite people, and give them all the customer service I can afford to. That's where I won't like to fail.
Thankfully, that's the business wisdom my grand father felt like sharing with me recently.
Also, Toubé Bäs is not about 'designer' t-shirts ... where a flutter of butterflies, a fleet of birds ... and things like that contribute to some immensely colorful design. The t-shirts here will always have a strong message to deliver ... a message that you will either connect with instantly, or not connect with at all. These are meaningful t-shirts, and may make sense to only a few people who are passionate about the core meaning. In your group, or at a social occasion, these t-shirts will certainly give you that "Hey Nice T-shirt!" response ... serve as conversation starters (about your passion), and make you feel happy about it.
Looks like the ride's going to be tough for me, right?! I hope so too!
Me, And This
In 2008, my dad happened to mention some Gitagyaan, "If you can do something well, and you choose not to do it, then you are committing a big sin." So I resumed my drawing, and my farting around ... and Toubé Bäs was born. I thought t-shirt designing would be a nice thing to do - but it turned out to be an incredibly fascinating experience in the industry of 'expression'.
Today, it's just the youth (at heart) that prides in wearing witty and unique tshirts. The poppa-kinds are happy wearing their kurtas and polos and shirts, while the bachcha-party are too kiddish to appreciate most of the wit! In the Western parts of this world, t-shirts are the primary street/campus/lounge casual wear - meant for you to flash your attitude while the (slightly) lesser mortals take notice of you and your beliefs/attitudes!
T-shirts Don't Hide. They Reveal.
91% of urban population claim that they have a "favorite tee", which they will never discard in their lives! Come what may.
About 5.4 million tshirts are sold worldwide! Daily.
More than 60% of the all urban population owns atleast 10 tees each. 19% own more than 30 tees!
These are statistics - but there's one very generic reason why people wear tshirts: to express. People mistake T-shirts as apparel. They are not. T-shirts are, instead, a form of 'media' - and a much more 'personal' media than the radio or tv can even hope to offer. When someone wears a t-shirt with a message on it, he or she is devoting 50% of the body to that message ... for an entire day. That's how siginificant t-shirts are ...
T-shirts are about one's personal beliefs and thoughts - and that's not the end! T-shirts are a casual, cool, and carefree manner to express one's attitude in style, and in a unique way.
That's why I always maintain, "T-shirts do not hide the body. No. Instead, they reveal your mind!"
Still, that is NOT the reason why a t-shirt becomes someone's favorite - so much so that that's the only thing they will sleep in. There's something else ...
Emotional involvement. Yes - researches have shown that the one piece of apparel that people develop maximum emotional bonds with are their tees! A tee may be a gift from your girlfriend (better - it may belong to your girlfriend), it may remind you of that marathon run, it may have a message about your passion and belief, or it may simply reflect something about your school or college - but once ppl get emotionally involved with their tees, they don't want to discard them - no matter how batterred the fabric may be! This is one relationship where there's no breaking-up.
There's little wonder in the fact that almost 33% of the sports world revolves around merchandise, and almost 43% of revenues that colleges in the West generate are through sales of merchandise - and a huge chunk of that is t-shirts.
Garment industry?! No! I think I am in the media industry! :)
Delivery Around India In 4 Days!
Unless one is Dominoes Pizza, it's impossible to commit on delivery logistics in India and live up to those. No wonder even FedEx took some time to set base in this country!
I must have sent more than a thousand couriers - tried BlueDart, DTDC, and experimented with a host of other big names - but have always found Maruti Couriers, Professional Couriers, and Bom Ind Couriers to be the most pragmatic and, hence, efficient of them all.
My observation, and a semi-commitment too: it won't take more than 3-4 working days for your t-shirt gifts/packets to reach anywhere in India - so you can go for some last minute gifting too! I spend quality time packing and shipping the stuff myself ... so yes ... you can be sure that I am personally involved in your order till the very last minute.
Payment Methods Here
CreditCards/DebitCards/Direct Net Banking
Oh yes! This is serious business - we have tied up with CCAvenue to bring all the security and conveniences to your payment process. CCAvenue is India's largest payment gateway (they must be really good, right?) ... and provide for payment through global credit cards ... and also debit cards & simple online banking of almost all the banks in India!
T-shirt Care, Wear, and Tear!
- Please don't iron on the print. Put a kerchief if you have to, or iron them inside-out.
- Please don't leave the tee's soaked in a bucket of water for absurdly long hours. They don't suffer of dehydration!
- Please don't hang them in direct sunlight for long hours. They don't suffer of rickets either!
- Please turn the tee's inside out if you think they are in a rough treatment either in the washing machine, or from your kapde-waali-bai.
Toubé Bäs: The Mad Lessons So Far
8) Money is Easy!
Yes, it is. I used to believe that easy money is evil. But it's not. To me, money is good, money is my friend. And all I have to believe is that every moment, money is joyfully coming to me in abundance.
I think this is a necessary attitude to have because once this belief becomes a part of you, you can start focusing on things that really need your focus. Money should not be your focus at all. Your focus should be on your operations, and innovation. Money will be a beautiful by-product.
Ofcourse, being pragmatic helps. Like, a very wise thing I have learnt (it's a very simple thing, by the way, but simple is usually difficult): to have money, you need to learn to do two things. Save some of what you earn, and invest some of what you earn. That's the key to become monetarily-rich.
7) Long-term Planning is a Joke!
Yes, it is! Believe me! The gods smile at you pitifully when you plan your life - imagine how loud they will laugh when you try to make a 2 year plan of your business in an excel file, with goals very clearly mentioned in there! While you are doing it, one of your 27 other competitors has already sold his product. My small advice is ... think small, think small term, and make sure you do it. Stop ideating after a while. Get executing - asap. For instance, meet a real customer and test the product on her and take a genuine feedback. As far as your investors, angels, managers etc. are concerned, tell them, and make them repeat it 20 times, that your poorest customer is far, far more important than anyone in the business you are running. Because, he/she really is.
6) The Customer is God ... but ...!
That's what we Indians have always been taught, haven't we? That's what the marketing gods Jack Trout and Al Ries have said, and that's what Theodre Levit said in his HBR classic, "Marketing Myopia". This is a rule that should be followed as a superstition, and yesterday, my 93 year old grandfather advised me to do the same too. When I say, "God", it doesn't mean you sacrifice just about everything for them. But respect them, their wants, and make them happy. They are feeding you, afterall. Oh - my MBA never mentioned a word about it :) MBA is for jokers. I was one when I did it :(
5) The Supplier is Not Satan Either!
Well, it would be wrong to say that the suppliers are Gods too - but they are somewhere close as well. I have had the great fortune of working with splendid suppliers. I make sure they get their quoted figures in time, and they ensure that I get the best quality one can produce. if you don't expect your customers to keep postponing their payments, don't do it to your suppliers as well. As for the 'cash-flow', you have to make the sales happen to take care of it. If that isn't happenning, there's something wrong in your core business ... or perhaps no point being in business. Really. Warren Buffet himself hates the concept of 'credit' ... and you know who he is, right?!
4) Credit Doesn't Work
I have always been told to 'maintain my cash flow' by paying my suppliers late, and taking money early from my customers. However - in business it's essential to realise that good relationships (even Adi Dassler says this) are much more important than credit periods, plus yours is not the only bank account that feeds on money! Hence, I do not sit on my customer's head to make the payment as if my leg is breaking away, neither do I keep my supplier's money with me just for the sake of it. Brings me back to the point of money: it should not be your 'focus'. Let it be where it is ... don't run behind it. Don't hold on to it. Probably this needs to be applied to everything in your world.
3) Dispassion > Passion > MS Excel
Many people start their businesses based on their passion, and before taking the plunge, try to evaluate their passion in figures keyed in an MS Excel mesh - thinking, "Should I, Shouldn't I?" My suggestion (who am I, btw?): if you are passionate about it, jump in anyway - lest you may regret it when you are 60, and have on foot in the grave. I started designing and selling t-shirts without blinking an eye-lid. Money went, money came, money went. I may have had 'challenging times' - but did not realise them in all the fun. Only 11 months later did I make my first excel file to organise myself. A day later, I deleted it. Plus: an excel file makes sense only when you have numbers with some experience behind them.
After a while, though, comes a time when you step back, and look at the entire setup with dispassion, with no attachment whatsoever. Passion is powerful, and great to get you started, to motivate you, but it's quite an over-hyped concept. A business, or anything in this world, prospers through a balance of Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh (wisdom, capital, power). Strike the balance. This is where I struggled immensely.
2) "F*** It!" Bolke Kar Daalne Ka
When I was but a freshie bachcha in IITB, and tried to apply my brains in usual hostel activities, my seniors had this one suggestion: "Bahot zyaada nahin sochne ka. Bas 'F*** It' bolke kar daalne ka." That's what I do - in life, in the football ground, in Toube Bas: I think about things for some time - giving all due respect to the situation. But that's it ... once the subconscious (gut feel) feels right, I don't give a damn: I say, "F*** It!" ... and I do it. Plus, that's what Sir Richard Branson said too, right? Remember the book, "Screw It ... Let's Do It!" One of my all time favorites!
1) Read Jack Trout and Al Ries
No businessman should be allowed to start a business until he reads a couple of books by these two divine marketers! My father introduced me to the book, "Focus", and then I dug up "Positioning", "Differentiate or Die", "Marketing Warfare", "22 Immutable Laws of Marketing", and "In Search Of The Obvious". Even if you are not about a business, please do read them! They talk complete sense. Just like Toubé Bäs t-shirts!
0) Keep yourself healthy.
This suggestion will be my top-most suggestion always, to anyone. Not just business people. Not just start-up nerds. To anyone. When you board a flight, you are instructed to wear an oxygen mask yourself first (in case of an emergency, of course), and then anyone - including your new born baby. It's logic: if you can't take care of yourself, ghanta you will be able to help anyone else.
By health, I do not really mean you should have a six-pack. However, yoga, pranayams, cardios, push-ups, crunches ... these things should not be ignored. Meditation is even better.
But here's the sad part - no one can ever be reasoned into getting healthier. These mind and body things, you see, have to come from the mind and body. All I can do is say.
I shall keep populating this section just in case it benefits a few more unreasonable, mad people who may be looking for some encouragement.