The increasing popularity of personalised gifts has boosted the growth of the online gifting industry, and led to the launch of umpteen customised gifting startups. Standing out among the many is Mumbai-based ecommerce startup The Messy Corner, which focuses on stylish travel and lifestyle accessories.
The Messy Corner (TMC) was founded in 2015 by siblings Aayush and Aanchal Poddar, who love travelling and would often get personalised gifts for each other. The lack of Indian companies offering personalised gifts and accessories that are stylish, good quality, and affordable led them to start TMC.
“Why flaunt designer labels when your name can be your own brand?” Aanchal, 28, tells YourStory.
The Messy Corner
Aayush, 33, is an MBA in marketing from the University of Mumbai and has been managing the family business of technical textiles, Shree Textiles, for a decade now. Aanchal, on the other hand, has a master’s degree in marketing from the University of Bath, UK.
The duo bootstrapped the venture and started it from a small corner of their house. “We had a spare room and we used that since we were just starting out. The effort and steps it takes to make a finished product is not a very pretty sight,” Aanchal says.
“Our mother used to keep shouting at us to clean the room and we did try. But, in minutes, it became a mess again. So, we decided to name the company ‘The Messy Corner’. It signifies the efforts and mess it takes to bring the product to our customers,” she adds.
The founders initially invested Rs 10 lakh in the business. Since then, it has been transferring back all the profits back into the business. The Messy Corner currently is a 20-member team, including full-time employees and freelancers.
The siblings make sure to separate their personal relationship from the venture. “Partners during the day and siblings by night,” they say.
Built from scratch
TMC offers products in categories such as travel, lifestyle, stationery, and tech accessories. The top-selling products include passport covers. It does not specifically target any particular audience, and all products are priced between Rs 299 and Rs 3,999.
The startup designs its products in-house. It sources the raw materials from local markets in Mumbai, Delhi, and Chennai, and manufactures the products at TMC’s factory in Vasai, Mumbai, which was set up in 2015.
“The personalisation process begins as and when the orders come in,” Aanchal says. All the products are handcrafted to ensure that the quality and packing is maintained.
TMC also has a strong corporate base. “Our products make great gifting options for corporates during festivals, offsites, and conferences,” Aanchal says. The startup’s B2B clients include Google, Zee TV, HUL, IIFL, Deloitte, Zydus, Airtel, Harman, Nearby.com, and KPMG, among others.
Aayush says TMC has a customer base of 1.5 lakh users and the startup has so far fulfilled more than two lakh orders, comprising almost four lakh items. The founders claim the startup recorded revenues worth Rs 6 crore in FY20. “Our target for FY21, not considering the COVID-19 situation, is expected to be Rs 10-20 million,” Aayush says.
Aanchal says starting up was not a cakewalk. The siblings struggled to find teammates with the right skill set, and say syncing wavelengths with partners was challenging. Additionally, they had to put in efforts to bust the myth that personalisation could be achieved online.
However, the duo remains optimistic. “If we are facing challenges, it means we are moving ahead,” Aanchal says.
Since the startup focuses on travel accessories, it noticed a drop in demand ever since the pandemic put travel off the charts. However, TMC is constantly trying to explore new product offerings, and recently introduced a UV Care Steriliser and cotton masks. Both products have been “selling like hot cakes” in the time of coronavirus.
The multi-functional UV Steriliser, which was launched on April 26, 2020, claims to kill 99.9 percent germs that live on the surfaces of one’s smartphone, earphone, watches and other daily accessories, in just three minutes. It is priced at Rs 3,999. The startup has so far sold more than 1,500 units of the steriliser.
The face masks are priced at Rs 100 and TMC has so far sold more than 25,000 units. “We are also planning to launch a few more products in the health, safety, and lifestyle segments,” Aanchal says.
The gifting market
Management Consultants Technopak estimates that the total size of the Indian corporate and personalised gifting market is Rs 2,50,000 crore, currently. It suggests that the market is growing at a CAGR of 200 percent, per annum. This is a huge opportunity for startups to tap this market and thrive.
“Our USP is speed and packaging. We changed the perception to show that personalised gifts can be delivered as fast as off-the-shelf products,” Aayush says. The startup competes with the likes of Chumbak, DailyObjects, Ferns N Petals, Vista Print, and Presto.
Aanchal says the startup has not yet raised any external funds and is waiting for the right strategic investor. “We plan to launch five more categories this year and add depth to the current categories,” Aanchal adds.