Ishan Shah lives in Surat. And he has a story to tell.
He leans back in his chair and studies a report on his phone once every 45 days. The 28-year-old runs a jewellery website, Sarvada Jewels. And this website got almost 300,000 impressions on social media in August ’16 and that too just before the big sale season. Decent mindshare. The way Shah looks at it, his Surat-based company, with 12 employees, is getting popular. Don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t heard of it. Not many have.
Shah doesn’t have grand plans to be a Tanishq but he does think he can be a Bluestone. And sure, nothing stops him. He hasn’t raised money from a venture capital firm but he does have a modest marketing budget. And just enough to create a semblance of recognition in the market; he has gone “digital”.
Shah has a family business selling loose diamonds. The company caters to jewellers and middlemen. The margins are thin and the sales, dangerous. So, like most of his peers, he decided to sell online. But there are several others who sell on the web. Diamonds and dreams. Shah needed to stand out. Nothing less would do – it was a business his grandfather and father put their back into, so, he decided to market the company. And took to Facebook and Twitter.
“I know Facebook but I don’t know how to sell on Facebook,” says Shah. As things stand today, he sells about 20 products a month right now and believes that with his new marketing effort, he will reach 50 by March. That’s at the very least, sales of Rs 50 lakh per month.
But why did he decide to go online?
You may think, young guy, startup boom and a certain awareness of social media. Yup. But there was a bigger reason: Narendra Modi and his digital India dream. And it isn’t just Shah who has seen the opportunity, scores of small and medium enterprises (SME) have too.
In 2014, when Narendra Modi won the General Assembly elections, he did everything. He went full Tupac, he tweeted obsessively, collected followers and posted on Facebook. He sent texts, made robocalls and often these calls called people to the party’s social media accounts. This may not have been the only reason Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) won the elections with an astounding majority, but Modi reached a whole new population, which his rivals and predecessors could not.