The Journey of Our Physical Newspaper
Hi, I am penning this down finally, as this is one of those things that many entrepreneurs would benefit from and our customers would also learn about. This also happens to be my first blog on our website. I plan on writing a piece every week, chronicling the research that goes into our project, the team, the thought process of the company- which is a team of mothers, just like you, our readers. However, this article chronicles the initial hiccups we faced when we started our physical newspapers.
I distinctly remember that The Young Chronicle was one of those startups that were the most appreciated, at the Mom Achievers Summit, organised by Gurgaon Moms, which had over 25000 members then. The Young Chronicle was just an app then, our newspapers were yet to be launched. We happened to win the pitch competition there. While this victory did us good, it also got us great competition. A number of people, including the jury, asked me if I was worried about screen time, and my response was that we cannot shun technology, and should use a healthy combination of tech and physical books and products. Somewhere, in my presentation, I also had a physical paper mentioned, as an aspect we could use to diversify our product lineup and grow.
Lo and behold, within a month, we had competition. It looked like many saw potential in building a newspaper/ portal for kids but took the plunge only after seeing how our pitch was received. One paper decided to launch with a name that was very-very-very similar to ours. I learned of this paper on 1st August, and they had been in operation for a month.
Needless to say, this paper’s name was unnervingly close. Now, I had plans of starting a physical paper too, but not so soon. Thankfully, our trademarks had already been sanctioned, and I had proof of the same. I quickly consulted our IPR lawyer, and she helped me draft a legal warning. I quickly sought the email address of the founder and sent the letter. The letter stated that we plan on starting that our trademark has been filed in the newspapers category too, and we plan on starting the same, in 10 days, and so they must change the name of their paper within a month (which they eventually did). The important point is, that I had the wisdom to file for trademarks, as soon as our company got registered, although my team and people around me felt this could wait. I would maintain, if you have a brand name you love, even if it is a fairly new business, do these 3 things asap: Book a domain, set up your business email, and TRADEMARK YOUR BRAND NAME AND LOGO.
We were already creating content for our app. I just needed to put it in a layout and set a price to launch it. At this time, the launch was primarily to ensure that the competition would change their name. I hadn’t thought of shipping yet, as everything needed to be executed in no time. And quite frankly, who would respond to our first post!
I also put out a post in a few communities, and what I hadn’t expected or planned for, happened. I got over 500 messages across all communities I had posted in. WOW! Without a subscription management system, sans a logistics team, sans a delivery partner, I had to launch this paper on 15th August.
I quickly signed up 2 delivery boys for local deliveries, as we DTDC wasn’t forthcoming then, e-commerce logistics companies said that this was a document and hence it came under courier services, that they did not have a government sanction for. So all I had was 2 delivery boys, and no system to track shipments- even though the delivery boys clicked pictures of the house numbers they delivered to, there was no way to determine those who were not available that day, were actually not at home. But we set sail.
People liked our content, but they wondered why we don’t have Amazon-like delivery. Sorry to burst your bubble, but Amazon also incurred Rs. 70 to 100 expenditure, in shipping. That too for local goods, the fact that they have been investor-led, and are the richest company now, is why they can spend this amount and get your deliveries done in a day( they have warehouses- I am an Amazon Prime Seller now, so I know how it works), at no cost. But believe me, Amazon despite all this, also charges their sellers a bomb.
That said, after the initial hiccups, DTDC signed up with us and luckily, logistics has not been an issue since then. However here is what I learnt:
1) The agility to start something, as of yesterday is definitely the USP of an entrepreneur, but if I wasn’t made to rush, due to circumstances, I would have started only when I had the deliveries aspect figured out. Unluckily, my delivery boys were not reliable.
2) Connecting well with customers, helped me, but many still don’t want to get to my website to pay. This is an inconvenience. They expect me to keep track of their subscriptions via their WhatsApp messages, which is an impossible task. Moreover, booking via WhatsApp also enables them to ask for discounts, which is a bit discomforting for me.
3) Some customers did attrite due to irregularities in delivery and I couldn’t get them back once we had DTDC on board, so we lost a few customers who could have been very loyal, and I will always regret that. But then again, I couldn’t have learnt all this without jumping into it. The first 3 months were tricky, but post that, it all smoothened out.
4) However, we have a set of very loyal customers who we love, and who love us back. What keeps us going is the value these guys see in us, and it is they who are helping us grow.
That said, as a team, we are committed to serving our consumers some awesome content, that is only getting richer and better, and that too, on time. We have a very reliable delivery partner who helps us with tracking codes too. So we know where each shipment is, real-time. So no delays now. Thankfully our customer base is also increasing Pan India.
I just shared this for fellow entrepreneurs, and customers to learn from and know a bit about the hiccups in our journey. If you have any delivery related issues or want to fix your IPR, do connect with me, and I will certainly try and help. I hope you learnt something from this piece.
Our next post will be on how we built our team and what they thin about our organisation. So stay tuned.