Name: Avani Shah Goiporia
Company Name: Vilyoo
Company URL: www.vilyoo.com
Avani Shah Goiporia has found her calling in the immeasurable creativity that our country offers. A creative person herself, she is now providing an avenue to artists and buyers to connect. Her venture is young but Avani sees a lot of potential and satisfaction in providing this service to the unknown artists.
Stars of Startups takes a peek into her nascent career of this woman entrepreneur:
This woman’s day, how is being a woman entrepreneur relevant more than ever?
Traditionally a professional like me who gave up work to raise a family would have to be content with a part-time role or a ‘low pressure’ job, which often felt like a compromise. I believe that three important changes that have come about in the last decade have made entrepreneurship for women very relevant and preferred path to use their strengths and skills.
Firstly, success of local startups has generated respect for risk-taking and entrepreneurship. Secondly, the evolution of social media and connectivity has provided enormous flexibility in how we work and collaborate with customers and coworkers. Finally, the cost and complexity of setting up an online platform has reduced drastically.
It is because of these changes that women like me can chose entrepreneurship as a route to professional achievement and fulfillment without a sense of compromise.
How did your journey as entrepreneur start? Do give a brief about your company.
It started more than 10 years ago during my stay in the United States.
Being at home to raise my one-year-old son was a pleasure but at the same time frustrating as I was not able to fulfill my desire for some achievement beyond raising a family. While flipping through TV channels, I came across DIY Network (Do It Yourself) by HGTV. The channel opened my eyes to the amazing creations that artists could craft at their home.
I started learning different crafting techniques like scrapbooking, polymer clay and studio pottery. Along the way I started a blog on such techniques and what they can lead one to make. That was my first “Blog/site” named “apnehathonse”.
When I returned to India, the hunger to be ‘back-in-the-office’ made me take up a job. Perhaps it was the joy I got from crafting, or the routine of office life, but being back at work did not give me the enjoyment I had imagined.
I quit within a few years and started an information website, www.hobbymela.com, which had everything about crafting techniques, craft classes, stores, projects etc.Hobbymela.com still has many followers and runs contests on regular basis.
Through this venture, I realized that there are creative crafters in India who make different “out of the box”, exquisite products and their only avenue to sell is Facebook and local fairs.
There is no single website that caters to a craft-artist’s requirements and at the same time, there is no single e-commerce site offering exclusive handmade and exquisite products, craft workshops, DIY kits, customization services and craft supplies.
From the desire to fill this space, vilyoo.com was born as an online marketplace dedicated to contemporary artists and crafters, for individuals who value, treasure handcrafted and high quality products with original designs.
Vilyoo means “will you” buy or sell. It has been two months since we launched and we are seeing a healthy flow of enquiries for these exclusive products. Artists can reach wider audience beyond the city they belong to and buyers get wide variety to choose. They do not need to wait for local art fairs for their needs. “One-stop shop for Everything Crafty” – that is our USP.
What challenges did you face during this journey?
Challenges are never ending in any new business. My first challenge was to find a partner or co-founder who would share my vision and commitment and complement my skills. Finding suitable logistics solution for artists, coping up with technology needs, building brand awareness and differentiating ourselves in the market are challenges we tackle on a daily basis.
To whom will you give credit for your success?
There is no replacement for hard work and belief in one’s vision. Apart from being diligent, committed and persuasive, you need to have belief in yourself – that is most important. I would give credit to my family who have been patient with me and supported me in my endeavor. Also, credit to my co-founder who took on the responsibilities from the day he decided to be partner in the venture.
What do you think are your strengths?
I am hard working, creative, pushy and committed.
What is your support system and source of inspiration?
My family is my support system and my source of inspiration is all the artists who have been creating amazing products with precision, dedication and passion.
If you were to mentor or guide women-led startups, what would be your top three advices?
Imagine big, be prepared to adapt and do not try to do everything yourself – that is what I would suggest to women entrepreneurs.
What is that one change you suggest that will make women entrepreneurship blossom?
I do not think any of the challenges that I face are because I am a woman.
However, I feel that very few young women feel that they can succeed as an entrepreneur. Policies or programs that create greater awareness of entrepreneurship as a career option for women in schools and colleges would definitely have a positive impact.
How do you measure success? Is it different for men and women?
Success is different for every individual, not just men or women. I see success through my artists’ eyes. I am most happy when an artist is able to reach a new customer or get an unusual request via vilyoo.com. Through this venture, my measure of success would be to see more and more one-of-a-kind products, handmade by these wonderful artists reach large number of house. Having said that, generating a profit is essential to run business and I look forward to achieving that success very soon.
Would you like to share a funny or memorable anecdote that had gender bias or happened because you were a female?
I have been fortunate and have not seen real gender bias in my life. I grew up in a family where my parents viewed me as competent and successful as my brother. In the company where I worked – IBM — women were highly regarded and offered benefits. When I started my venture, I never experienced any gender bias.
What the mind believes, it achieves. Avani Shah has created a bridge between the artist and the market through her venture Vilyoo. Here is wishing Avani Shah, success on the Women’s day 2016 eve.