Home Who’s Who Anirban Poddar, Founder, ShopHop

Anirban Poddar, Founder, ShopHop

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Anirban Poddar
Founder

For Anirban, nothing in life till date has been mediocre, be it his education, his internships and now even his business startup. He studied at the Cathedral & John Connon School from grades 1 through 12 where he was well involved in extra-curricular activities. He was a member of the high school Rugby and Model UN Teams. He also represented Bombay Gymkhana Rugby at the National Level where his team won the National under-19 championship. Anirban was also a member of the IAYP Club (International Award for Young People) where he received Bronze and Silver Medals and served as a Unit Officer.

Post Cathedral, Anirban attended Columbia University in the City of New York. He joint majored in Economics-Philosophy here with a concentration (minor) in Computer Science and received Dean’s List honors in multiple semesters. While at Columbia, he also interned at the management-consulting firm Booz & Company, and also did an investment banking internship at Rabobank India during Winter 2012/2013. However, he always knew that he wanted to start something of his own.

Growing up, Anirban was consumed by ideas of how he could do new things and do it differently. During the fall semester of 2012 at Columbia, while taking the semester off, he decided that he wanted to do something productive with his time. This is when he first started ShopHop as a hyper local initiative that brought 10-15 of South Mumbai’s most popular stores online across a range of product categories including arts, stationery, groceries and books.

Until mid-2015 – ShopHop was run primarily as a side project by his mother and 2 dedicated employees only for SEO + Digital marketing and one for deliveries. At this time, Anirban was fairly busy with college in New York and had a very limited budget for marketing and growth. Unfortunately, ShopHop’s hyper local model never really picked up due to a combination of limited organized effort and a business model that was quite tough.

Post-graduation in May, he joined the management consulting firm Strategy& (formerly Booz & Company) in New York as part of their Financial Services practice. During this time, he also continued to work on ShopHop over weekends and during his free time.

In mid-2015 – Anirban decided to re-think the ShopHop’s business model and was focused on building a discovery based experience that has both a B2B component helping entrepreneurs while also providing a rich and exciting B2C experience for customers to discover new and exciting brands. At ShopHop, he is looking to build more than just traditional e-commerce or marketplaces. The vision is to build out a community of people that connect with the overarching mission of wellness and discovery through ‘natural, artisanal and homegrown’ foods.

After adequate research and study, Anirban re-launched the new website and business model of ShopHop in December 2015 to a great response and the business has been growing rapidly since then. His long term goal with ShopHop is to become the ‘go-to’ platform for food & wellness entrepreneurs to showcase what they do and for consumers to discover exciting new foods and products they will love. He gives due credit for his inspiration to Etsy and Try the World. Etsy for building out an entire ecosystem of likeminded individuals and becoming the most attractive marketplace for artisans and craftsmen and Try the World for a great sampling and discovery food concept.

In May 2015, Anirban decided to return to the Mumbai office and return to the drawing board to give ShopHop a dedicated 100% shot. After working in the Mumbai office for 6 months from August – February, Anirban is currently on a long-term leave of absence from Strategy& to focus on ShopHop fulltime with the blessings and encouragement of the PWC staff. Anirban’s journey of experiences has helped him learn a lot, which in turn has helped him plan his strategies for ShopHop.

Some of Anirban’s favourite items from the ShopHop store are Chicken Shile Bata (stoneground chicken paste) and Prawn Kashundi by Big Bong Kitchen, Sundried Tomato Pesto by Saucery and Flax Seed Jam Cookies by Flat Tummies.

Being a dreamer, a music lover, a soccer fan, a foodie and an optimistic, Anirban plans to build a new community centered on food and also run a successful IPO in the next 5 years.

ShopHop – The Brand Story

ShopHop is a curated marketplace for natural, artisanal and home-grown foods and wellness products. It is a place for food and wellness entrepreneurs to showcase their products and stories and for customers to discover and explore new and exciting brands. The USP of the brand is not just an e-commerce marketplace. It aims at becoming a community and a discovery based experience.

With the growing technology and accessibility of the world at just one click on the Internet, ShopHop also aims at offering a web-space that will help in preserving cultural heritage by marketing and selling these products.

ShopHop first started as a hyper local initiative which brought 10-15 of South Mumbai’s most popular local stores online ranging from different categories which included arts, stationary, grocery and books.

In late 2012 – online shopping was just picking up in India and Anirban wanted to use technology as a platform to organize popular SMEs across South Mumbai. Shophop partnered with Winners Bookstore, Warden Collections, Komal stores, Art lounge and many more popular establishments across the city that had established loyal customer bases and become ‘go-to’ stores for their specific categories. The goal was to bring these stores online to expand their sales outreach with logistical support – and for their loyal customers to continue shopping from them conveniently from home with quick deliveries.

Initially, Anirban ran ShopHop as a side business owing to his busy college schedule in New York and a limited budget for marketing and growth. They first operated out of one bedroom in Anirban’s house. Anirban’s mother headed the operations then with 2 dedicated employees only for SEO + Digital marketing and one for deliveries. The original ShopHop hyper local model never really picked up due to a combination of a limited organized effort and a business model that was stifled with margin pressures that did not cover logistics costs. Players such as Grofers and others performed much better and it was time for a major re-think or exit for the brand.

Post-graduation in May, Anirban joined the management consulting firm Strategy& (formerly Booz & Company) in New York as part of their Financial Services practice. While he continued to work on ShopHop over weekends and during his free-time. In mid-2015 – Anirban decided to re-think the ShopHop business model and was focused on building a discovery based experience that has both a B2B component helping entrepreneurs while also providing a rich and exciting B2C experience for customers to discover new and exciting brands. At ShopHop, the founder is looking to build more than just traditional e-commerce or marketplaces. They are looking to build a community of people that connect with the overarching mission of wellness and discovery through ‘natural, artisanal and home-grown’ foods.

After adequate research and study, Anirban re-launched the new website and business model of ShopHop in December 2015 to a great response and the business has been growing rapidly since then with 100 per cent month on month sales increases since January with limited marketing. His long term goal with ShopHop is to become the ‘go-to’ platform for food & wellness entrepreneurs to showcase what they do and for consumers to discover exciting new foods and products they will love.

To elaborate on the current business development model, all ShopHop products adhere to one or all of the following three broad criteria:

• ‘Natural’ products include organic OR sustainably produced OR with natural ingredients only and without any use of artificial additives and preservatives.

• ‘Artisanal’ products spanning across ethnic, gourmet and hard to find foods that are made in unique ways and are handpicked by ShopHop’s sourcing team to ensure the highest quality products, that not only give you the best taste but also give you an entirely new experience. Last but not least – each of the brands under ShopHop has a fascinating story that adds to the flavour of the product – with unique methods of production.

• ‘Homegrown’ products are handmade by budding chefs and artisans in kitchens across the country or made farm-fresh and naturally produced on Indian soil

The current ideas behind ShopHop are not based on a concept from the US that the brand owners are simply trying to replicate. ShopHop as it stands today i.e. a discovery platform for ‘natural – artisanal – homegrown’ brands has grown organically over time based on what excited them and what they thought would be an exciting new experience for both entrepreneurs and customers. That said – there are different websites and models abroad that are centred on different elements of what ShopHop aims to do.

In the future, ShopHop aims to provide customer data analytics and support to entrepreneurs to understand consumer preferences better for their brands. Furthermore, the several free of charge marketing initiatives that the brand undertakes to showcase their partner brands are unparalleled. These and other entrepreneur benefits and features that the brand provides, demonstrates their commitment to entrepreneur growth. On the customer side – building a great user experience and connecting consumers with brands they will love ensures they will keep coming back to explore and discover further.

Another key aspect that ShopHop is currently working on is integrating popular food bloggers and critics across Mumbai into the ShopHop community. Bloggers and critics will play a central role in sampling products to provide budding entrepreneurs with feedback and also to publicly share their curations, reviews and recommendations to help customers discover new feeds with some advice.

ShopHop was selected as an ALPHA Class startup for RISE Hong Kong. RISE is one of the world’s largest and most prestigious tech conferences with less than 10 per cent of startups that pitch selected to be a part of the ALPHA class. Way back before it was a $60 Billion business etc. Uber was once selected as part of RISE Alpha as well.

ShopHop will soon be launching a unique monthly sampling box called the ‘Taste Case’ to showcase their products. These sample boxes will allow customers to discover amazing new brands every month and involve themselves in a community of like minded food lovers.

The concept behind the boxes is to engage a large consumer audience in the ‘discovery’ activity that is central to ShopHop. As an upcoming brand, ShopHop aims to push the excitement and joy that comes with tasting/trying interesting new products out to customers. The best way to do this is through the sampling boxes that allow customers to taste and learn about exciting new brands every month. Not only would these boxes enable customers to learn about exciting new food entrepreneurs but also build the behavior akin to tasting/sampling at farmers markets and food exhibitions. The Taste Case will spice up the food discovery in Bombay in a very convenient and enjoyable way.

The experience through discovery of a unique collection of ‘natural, artisanal, homegrown’ brands from farmer’s markets and kitchens across the country also make ShopHop unique as a curated hub for this distinct set of products.