Delight Gifts: Sending Mesmeric Experiences to India - by Sanjeev
We hear various stories of NRI entrepreneurs from UK and US who have made
successful ventures in India so it was real pleasure to meet an Australian
Indian couple who have made inroads into India with their enterprise during
my recent visit to India.
Australians Siddharth and Pooja Lal relocated to India in 2009 to pursue
their passion in the emerging world of E commerce. Siddharth Lal (SL)
secured a licence from Bruce Clay Inc one of the global leaders in search
engine optimisation and marketing while his wife Pooja Lal (PL) set up
Delight Gifts - India's first experiential gifts company in Gurgaon.
Here are excerpts from their interview
SN: What prompted you all to leave the comforts of
Australia and your successful work environments there to return to India?
SL: After having studied and worked in Australia for over 10
years we felt the opportunities that India presented were huge because of
its population and business base. The marketing gaps in India are big
especially when you look at it from the western perspective. The dollar
investments are relatively small to begin a venture here besides we had age
and an extended family on our side that made this a worthwhile experiment.
SN: How did you all go about choosing your area of
SL: I have been in the e commerce space for a while now and ran a successful
portal selling phone calling cards in Sydney. When I was looking at India I
felt that spaces around marketing and making e commerce more effective would
be the way to go. In one of my several conferences I met up with people from
Bruce Clay which is a global digital marketing agency. We got around talking
and they showed interest in joint venturing with us for India. I made
several visits to India to study the market and fine tune my business model.
I also had the benefit of getting a client interested early on that spurred
PL: For me I had several years of Business Development experience working
with Visa Inc. in Dubai and Sydney. Within the payments domain at Visa we
had enormous focus within emerging payments so looking at something to do
with E commerce was natural also. However, leaving the comforts of a
corporate life was not easy so when I relocated to India I initially worked
with American Express Corporate cards before honing in on the gifting
SN: Siddharth would I be correct in saying that
your success was classically tied to finding a gap in e commerce marketing
in India and then getting a US joint venture partner to train and guide your
resources. Is that right?
SL: Right-it was bringing all these together which was Key.
SN: Pooja I am really keen to understand how you
developed your business idea especially transitioning from a high flying
corporate life. Tell me how you came up with the business idea for your
PL: When you come to India after several years in the Western culture you
notice several differences in the way things are done that can be done
better and with a difference. Whenever I had to gift in India it looked very
passť - usual chocolates and flowers besides many lacked both quality and
presentation. It is not uncommon in India to get melted chocolates or
withered flowers. I felt the new India needed something different to
complement the traditional gifting industry. I hypothesized that a single
stop company like Red Balloon in Australia, that pioneered experiential
gifting, combined with aspects of the concierge services at Visa or Amex for
Platinum cardholders could add that touch of difference.
I spent long hours researching the India market to identify such Gift ideas
then I conducted extensive consumer focus groups with prospects both in
India and overseas to see what they felt about such gift ideas. The results
of these research efforts were very positive. People wanted new novel
experiential gifting ideas and a reliable service that offered real value
they could go to. This helped me to cement the business idea.
SN: It must have taken you quite a while to take
this idea from concept to execution. How long did it take and what were the
critical road blocks?
PL: Well I followed a project management approach and I set a 6 month start
date which was July 1, 2012 and worked backwards on all things that needed
to be done- it included company formation, registering a domain name,
identifying and signing contracts with prospective vendors, creating
website, marketing, staffing, training, ordering software, doing test runs
on execution keeping end customer experience in mind. We started modestly so
that we could manage well and ensure all are bases were covered. Yes,
working in India has its challenges but if you are stickler for details and
timelines people generally adapt to your style. Getting good people is of
SN: How do customers order on your website and what
is the exact process? What would you say is the difference between
PL: Ours is an online site
www.DelightGifts.in Once customers go into the site they can choose from
any of the Gift Experiences and place an order with their message. All the
gift experience vouchers are sent to the addressee printed on handmade paper
and is packed in beautiful gift boxes with handwritten personal message.
Unlike conventional Gifts we can ensure no withered flowers or damaged
boxes! We cover all the major cities in India with the biggest advantage
being with experience vouchers you can never doubt the quality of the gift.
SN: Who are some of your key Gift vendors? Can you
give us an idea of your experiential gifts range?
PL: Our website now boasts over 100 partners in the areas of dining, wine
tasting, spa, salon, adventure, art, craft, entertainment and sports. There
are experiences available across all price points from Rs. 250 to Rs.
Some of our partners include Oberoi Hotels, ITC Hotels, Olive restaurants,
VLCC salons. We keep adding new experiential gifts but some of the
favourites are scotch tasting experience with renowned whiskey and wine
tasters of the world, stay at boutique hotels at exotic locations, touring
on a heart throbbing Harley Davidson, chilling out at legendary Balinese or
Swedish spas, going on a hot air balloon ride, golf coaching lessons or
fresh water fishing in the gushing rivulets.
Delight Gifts has an array of gift experiences for all ages. We have a team
of well-versed gifting specialists who ensure that family and friends
receive memorable experiences that remain etched in their minds forever.
SN: Gifting in India is really getting big come to
think of it- India today celebrates all the days and events like they do in
the West- Mother's Day, Valentine Day, Father's Day in addition to the usual
Holi, Diwali Rakshabandan, Christmas and people's wedding-do you sense you
will have block out periods for gift redemptions?
PL: Experiential gifting does not have a block out period but there can be
occasional waiting periods for popular gifts. That is why we like our
customers to book their experiences early. In exceptional situations we even
offer flexibility of an exchange.
I wanted to add that we manage bulk bookings if someone wants to send say
Diwali gifts to a list of family & friends in India. We also offer a handy
email reminder a few days before the occasion with a list of suggested
gifts. For Weddings, Delight Gifts has launched India's first online
registry service for the couple so they can choose the gifts they want to
receive on their special day.
SN: Thank you Pooja and Siddharth. All I can say
life remains an ongoing celebration at any age and for any rhyme or reason!
And I wish Delight Gifts all success to celebrate every such moment. Good
luck to you both.
For more information on Delight Gifts log on to
www.DelightGifts.in and on Bruce
Clay India log on to
www.bruceclay.com/in Sanjeev Nandkeolyar is a Director of Instock
Australia Pty Ltd - a boutique consulting outfit on Strategy, Research and
International Business with a special focus on new start ups. Sanjeev is