Undergraduate girls turn entrepreneurs, export cards to UK and USA. They have just shipped an order by post to California. Jharna H. Makhija and Chaitra Salimeeti doing their third year in Computer Science Engineering in Velagapudi Ramakrishna Siddhartha Engineering College (VRSEC).
They have still a year to complete their engineering. But that has not stopped them from making a success of a business that most people consider unviable or impossible. Making and selling greeting cards abroad in the age of whatsapp and email is a small achievement for the young entrepreneurs.
Making customised greeting cards is their USP. They have just shipped an order by post to California. Jharna H. Makhija and Chaitra Salimeeti doing their third year in Computer Science Engineering in Velagapudi Ramakrishna Siddhartha Engineering College (VRSEC) have successful bagged and executed nearly 200 orders in less than a year.
Starting with regular greeting cards they diversified to a variety of customised cards including the ‘explosion’ box greeting cards, invitations for a wide range of occasions and more recently flyers and tickets for commercial programmes. The brand name they have given for all these products is the highly catchy phrase, Keep It Simple Silly (KISS).Customised fare
The big attraction in the customised cards, which often have photographs of both the senders and receivers, is that they are permanent. “Whatsapp messages, emails are temporary, but our cards remain forever. They are mementoes which can be collected to remember all the important occasions,” said Ms. Makhija.
The book “How I Braved Anu Aunty and Co-Founded a Million Dollar Company” inspired the girls to start the business. The college E-Cell gave them a little nudge by permitting them to have a stall on the campus for a couple of days.
With their creativity and computer knowledge they design the customised cards, which often have many pages, using graphic design software like CorelDRAW, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.
The cost of the cards ranges from Rs. 15 for a regular card to Rs. 600 for an explosion box greeting card (explode into several pages of photos and text when the lid is removed).
It is not that the two-girl team had no competition.
A few months after they began the business in July 2013, a few boys from another engineering college started a similar enterprise. But having a head-start gave KISS an advantage, Ms. Salimeeti said. The real advantage is the wonderfully maintained Facebook page that attracted customers from as far as UK and USA.
Wedding season is hectic time for KISS. In the beginning the parents resisted, but extended logistic support when the orders began flowing in.