Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Overcoming the Greatest Challenge - Logistics


Kraftinn Lamp at Client Location
(... continued from Kraftinn Journey- Learning the Process)
We see bamboo home furnishings and lamps as a winning opportunity as there were no other players in this area but we realised after making many mistakes that the best delivery and the best customer support systems will only win the game. When we were ready with the product, we realised that there is a very limited option for delivery. Quality service sometimes has a surprisingly high cost and because of geographical disadvantages of operating from Assam, it was very difficult for us to find reliable resources.The logistical challenges of delivery are far more challenging and costly than we anticipated. The challenges of delivery cannot be compared to delivering books, clothes or electronic items.

There were many secondary materials like good quality electrical wires, holders and packing materials etc. were not easily available. We got the wired sourced from Bangalore. Then the challenge for us was to identify packaging materials that are fit for our products at a minimum cost and with minimum environmental impact. At the beginning we tried a mixtures of materials like bubble wrap, corrugated box and heshion cloths for outer layer packing at a surprising high cost.There were times when we spent the whole night engrossed in packing the lamps to ensure that the product reaches safely to the customer. We have verified several number of times that the product is satisfactorily packed and appropriate to get the delivery to the customer’s place safely. When you are in a startup, you have to do all the things on your own to ensure that everything is perfect especially when it is the first order.

Packages meeting the weight and dimension requirements of courier companies are not the easiest. Our products were very light in weight but very voluminous in dimensions and the shipment cost of a particular consignment was much higher than the actual cost of the product. Customer experiences cannot be compromised regardless of issues you cannot control. Then we decided with a approval from the client, to dispatch the shipment via speed post services of Indian postal services which charges the consignment on the basis of weight. So we managed to ship the items.

After the first layer of packaging
Unfortunately for us, out of the 8 packages we shipped, 4 packages were completely damaged during transit. For us, our reputation and customer service is of paramount of importance, so without taking much time, we immediately replaced the damaged lamp and I personally went to Delhi and hand-delivered the lamps at the clients place. The client really appreciated the service and very satisfied with the product. So, our first order, was a complete loss but we have learned a lot by making mistakes. We realised that, despite how good your products are but if you are not able to deliver it safely it has no value.

After the second layer of packaging
Given the fact, and taking so many measurable steps, most of the lamps arrive broken at the client’s place. Unfortunately this is an all too common problem, one that results from rough handling during shipment. We knew that we cannot control the handling of the Indian Postal Service, Blue Dart or any courier services, so we need to make sure that the lamps are fully damaged proof prior to shipment. I would also like to share as per my experience, the differences between the various courier companies and Indian postal services aren’t any, because none of them handle packages gently than the others. Indian Postal services are good, but if the item is bigger, they don’t deliver at home, you have to collect it from the nearest post office which many customers don’t prefer. So, we need to reach a balance by de-risking the delivery into multiple courier companies.

The product after final layer of packaging
We cannot afford to ignore the packaging and transportation and the ever-rising cost of shipping makes it desirable to keep the packing as small and light as possible. We need to facilitate safe transport with minimal expense. It is the time; we need to assess the packaging as a part of the product. We need to monitor each element of the packaging process. So, we make some changes in the products and avoided products which are easily breakable and very voluminous.

The Product remains safe even if a man stands over it
The selection and use of packing materials is very important. This is another area where economics play a part. Corrugated box. thermocol, bubble wrap or foam and the cost of packing has significantly impacted our expenses. This is where recycling comes in. We visited few of the warehouses or small retailers who like many tend to have many packages coming in and we started collecting what can be reused. I've found that the thermocol which used to protect electronic products such as computers, TV and such can be easily cut to fit. We used newspaper as filler so that the lamp is centrally positioned inside the package and the shape of the lamp is not distorted. We used foam to wrap the lamp so that the slit of the bamboo doesn’t come out while unpacking it. After that, we cut the thermocol according to the size of the lamps. Then the package is stitched with SDP or heshion cloth as the outer layer so that the product inside is intact. Given, the effort and values of Kraftinn products, we cannot afford to run risk of having the lamps broken again. So, we have started a practice where all the ready packets has to survive the drop head test, wherein we drop the products several times from top and check whether the package can withstand several such drops and what happened if something weighing 50 Kgs dropped on it.

Finally, with some little effort and learning from mistakes, we have overcome the challenges of packing and our approach varies from one product to next. Now, we can practically guaranty that our products are shipped damage free and it is well reflected in the feedback and reviews of our product.

You can check our ebay Feedback

- +Parikshit Borkotoky 
Founder, Kraftinn 


(to be continued..)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Kraftinn Journey - Learning the Process

(... continued from KraftInn - The Journey so far )

Many people discuss about the quality workmanship of bamboo handcrafted items, but the challenges of retaining its originality require different techniques and treatment processes. At the beginning, we thought of supplying the lamps sourced from a group of artisans and the workmanship of these artisans is very excellent, but if the item is not treated, it outweighs the quality. And, moreover, sourcing introduces a lot of delays, and quality and delivery of suppliers is an issue and overall transaction is not financially prudent. We learned early that we would need to have a setup wherein we can have full control of the quality standards and supply chain. 

Immediately, we made a small bamboo shed wherein we could accommodate people to work for us. It was very difficult to find skilled artisans and we had to provide good incentives while persuading them to move to Kraftinn location at Jorhat. We visited more that 15 villages across Assam to search for the right people and finally hired two artisans. 

Bamboo is a rapidly growing fibrous plant and is abundant in mostly tropical forests. It mainly consists of roots, culms and leaves. They are usually hollow and vary in sizes, diameter, colours and textures. The cellulose fibres run along the length of the culm and carry nutrients between roots and leaves. Because of its cellulose fibrous nature, it is one of those materials that have very high tensile strength. But, bamboo, because of its high starch content, has very low resistance to biological degrading agents. 

Bamboo Treatment - The firewood used is waste bamboo for its low pollutant residue
We needed to ensure that the bamboo we use need to be treated to enhance the durability of the bamboo. We use the immersion technique where we immerse bamboo culm in 6% solution of boric acid and borax as suggested by Cane and Bamboo Technology Centre(CBTC), Guwahati, Assam. But, in this process, selection of bamboo also plays an important role. We start by individually hand picking mature bamboo which has to be between 3-5 years old, otherwise the bamboo would shrink and crack when dried. Also, for harvesting Oct-Nov is the ideal time when the starch content in bamboo is at the lowest level. Once the bamboo is treated, it needs to be left to bask in the sun for 4-5 days depending on the sunlight. Then the bamboo needs to be dried in a dark shade to weather.
Bamboo Kept for Drying

Finally, we are ready with treated high quality bamboo for our use. Luckily, our first client was very co-operative and he showed full trust in me and I was able to convince him to extend the delivery deadline.

We didn’t want to take any risk in executing our first order and we started our production and are ready with the desired lamps. As a normal human nature, we prided ourselves on the final outcome of the products regardless of how will we manage to deliver the products safely to the clients place. When, we received the order, we were not very sure about the logistical challenges and quoted the price accordingly. But, the logistical challenges of delivery are far more challenging and costly than we anticipated.

 - Parikshit Borkotoky
Founder, Kraftinn

(continued at Overcoming the Greatest Challenge: Logistics)

Friday, December 7, 2012

KraftInn - The Journey so far

After coming fresh out of my college in 2004, I got a job with an MNC bank in the sales division. But, you may say, because of peer pressure or whatever, I started to believe that to make a solid career in the corporate sector, you need to hop around jobs. Because of no reason, I started looking for better jobs as I was not very clear of what I really wanted. By this time, I ended up in a start-up software company and heading the BFSI domain for the Northern Region.The experience in working in a start-up company was incredible. In a start- up company, you are master of your own destiny. It may be scary sometimes but the sense of responsibilities and ownership drives you to work incredibly hard and allows you to enter into a territory which was unknown to you. There are no cleared defined roles but you will need to get involved in all aspects of the business. This helped me a lot to sharpen my entrepreneurial skills and gave me well rounded view of how a business operates. During October 2009, there was a massive economic slowdown in US, which directly affected the business in India. The company where I was working had to be shut down. I was left with no job and almost no savings of my own.

By virtue of our experience in a start-up, I realized that I too can also build a company. With few of my friends/colleagues, we started a consultancy firm “ROPeS Consulting” named after the initial of the partners name. But, we were not able to match up with the competition and failed in our attempt. Not to mention that recruitment is not among the most lucrative of spaces during a downturn :). The experience made me realize that building a company requires a good understanding of the area in which it operates and also the importance of building core competency.

I packed my bags to Bangalore to start afresh. My brothers are well established in software companies in Bangalore. I discussed with my brothers about the intention of starting a business. There were few ideas spinning around our head at the time but I was not very clear about how to start . Finally, we zeroed up with a thought to start something which can promote the crafts and hand-looms of NE India which has a lot of potential and is being unexplored and untouched. My brothers, sister-in- law ensured their full support and confidence in me. Immediately, we brainstormed about the name for the firm and booked the domain name www.kraftinn.com.
 
Assam is well known for art and craft skills. It is home to 140 different tribes and every tribe practices a different style of craft. The sense of simplicity, style and richness of handicrafts and hand looms in this part of India is truly limitless. So, the name Kraftinn struck, its a slight twist of two words- ‘craft’ that symbolizes our desire to design unique products and harness the skills of artisans who have evolved over generations and ‘inn’ where people passing by, can experience a little bit of the local culture. We envisioned www.kraftinn.com as a place where people can get a little bit of the unique north east culture and take it back to their homes as tangible artifacts like lamps and bags.
 
Once we had decided on what type of business we would like to run it was then just a case of doing some research work. We looked at various websites and drew up a list of products which were selling and were popular at that time. For the first three months, much of my time went on extensive field research, meeting artisans of different crafts work across the region.

At the beginning, we have chosen bamboo because of its characteristics and availability in Assam. Bamboo home d├ęcor has a good demand and this market is largely disorganized and it’s largely a very niche and untapped category. Besides this, we wanted to start something which will address sustainable income to the artisans, environmental and social awareness by using Eco-friendly products, reviving the dying art forms of Northeast.

I went to Delhi, with some of the samples collected from a local shop from Guwahati, and showed some of the samples to few known exporters. Luckily, we got a lead from a exporter and they introduced me to a reputed designer who was working on a bamboo project. And to our rescue, we clicked our first order of 100 lamps with some amount of customization. That was great sign to start and we were at the top of the world. We were very happy with the start as we were not aware of the challenges of delivering.


- Parikshit Borkotoky


Founder, Kraftinn

Friday, November 16, 2012

Customer Feedback

Recently, one of our customers bought a few lamps for her home from KraftInn. She sent a picture of her home after installing the lamps.





Things to buy online for men

Since we went online a couple of years ago, we have also spent quite some time buying things online. Here are a few e-commerce sites that we think are pretty cool - we have also included ourselves :)


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Top eco-friendly materials

Green living is slowly becoming a lifestyle choice but how do you decide which material is good for the environment. Here is a starter list for reference


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Virtual Cards in India for Safe Shopping



India is the fastest growing internet consuming market after China and each day we hear about a new e-commerce website being launched. Even then, most of us don't feel safe while shopping online. So, here is the solution. Virtual Cards also known as "Single Use Cards". 



So, what is a Virtual Card?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

KraftInn at IIT, Guwahati for Startup Showcase,Techniche'12

In a recently organised event, Startup Showcase as part Techniche, an annual technical fest of IIT, Guwahati, KraftInn was invited as one of the top innovative startups to showcase themselves in front of a distinguished audience which included personalities like Amit Ranjan, COO, Slideshare, Satish Kataria, Consultant (DARE), Cyber Media Publications, Anil Joshi, Pesident, Mumbai Angel Venture Mentors and Navin Honagudi of KAE Capital.   It was great time interacting with these people and the curious students of IIT, Guwahati, who aspire to entrepreneurs. We are sharing some of the pictures of the event. 





Wednesday, August 15, 2012

KraftInn awarded Best Enterpreneur of the Year

The Govt. of India, on Independence Day, each year awards people doing commendable work in their respective fields. These awards are given in each state. These year, KraftInn was awarded with the Best Entrepreneur Award in MSME Sector by the Govt. of Assam. 


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Heavenly Bodies

Like everyone else we also get better when we get a few words of encouragement. Freelance writer Dagny Sol recently bought a few lamps for herself and a friend. Here is what she has to say about,

Star- studded walls...

I saw this a long time back... someone sent me a link to a site... I browsed and was held captive. This bit of magic was created in a land far from my home. But what does that matter? I saw this. It lured, it enticed, it held my imagination captive. A few clicks and I was assured that it had begun its journey from that far away place. In three days flat, I was cutting away the awesome packing. Stout burlap encasing a thermocol box inside which, this nestled in yet more packing. Such a delicate thing, traveling almost 2000kms, arriving with not a scratch..! AND in three days..! At a price that can only be called 'throw- away'.

For three months I waited to have this put up because there was repair/ renovation work going on in the house.

Last night I took it out of its packing for the last time and waited while it was being put up.

Then the stars came home.
Kraftinn Starnet Pendant Lamp
No, I didn't expect this. I knew it would look nice... but when it got installed I realized that to use the adjective nice (one I've always disliked), was to insult this magnificence.

I didn't expect this magic. I didn't expect the stars suddenly springing up on my walls.

Awesome... I wish the photos could have captured the wonder of this...

Kraftinn Starnet Pendant Lamp

Angel's wings... studded with stars. 

My kid's eyes went round as saucers... flying saucers... like the UFO thingies..? Yeah... those saucers.
       
Kraftinn Starnet Pendant Lamp

More, more, more....
Kraftinn Starnet Pendant Lamp

And even more...

Kraftinn Starnet Pendant Lamp

The flimsy veil... the added allure... the enhanced magic...




Saturday, July 21, 2012

Making of a delightful lamp

You have always appreciated our lamps so we decided to show you how we make them. The following is a video of one of them.
 



Friday, April 20, 2012

Coloring Happiness

"It isn't just a color, it's an attitude."


                                        -Anonymous


When it comes to interior decorations, it is very important that the decor represents your personality properly and colors are an effective way to do that. So, we in KraftInn decided to add some colors to our products. The first and foremost challenge that we faced is that bamboo does not have a surface that will make conventional paints to be applied easily. So, we tried applying stains to our products but that also was not easy. Sometimes, the colors faded away, and at times the colors get into your hands. Some stains cannot be applied uniformly while others do not look. Finally, we got the desired results after many tests and failures. We tried to apply the following colors:
  1. Olive Green
  2. Grass Green
  3. Lusty Red
  4. Chocolate Brown
  5. Sienna Brown
  6. Smoke Brown
  7. Ash Black
  8. Soot Black
We were not successful in applying all the colors at the present but we are sure we will be coming up with those. Presently, we present you with the following colors:
  1. Grass Green
  2. Lusty Red
  3. Smoke Brown
  4. Ash Black
  5. Soot Black
We now bring you the initial products with colors with a promise to bring more colors and products so that you have a wide variety of choices. These colorful products give your home a vibrant look and a cheerful environment is created.







Sunday, April 1, 2012

Presenting Atlas Shrugged

Yesterday, we showed you an image of Atlas Shrugged, the book shelf that we have been working since last month. Today, we are proud to present the final product before you. We hope that you will love our latest offering. More details would be soon available in our website.

Atlas Shrugged

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Atlas Shrugged: Work in Progress

Last month we spoke about a design that we were working on through a post. Now we would like to say that it is almost ready with only a finishing touches to be done.  The novel's title is a reference to Atlas, a Titan of Greek mythology, who is described as "the giant who holds the world on his shoulders".  We believe a man(or a woman) is able to bear the weight of the whole world if he (or she) is a well read person and hence the book shelf to reflect that philosophy. We are presenting you the first images to you and will soon update you with the final images.

-Team KraftInn


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A peek inside the KraftInn workshop - Part - I





Bamboo Selection Process

Bamboo Being treated against termites (Open Boiler Tank Method)

Kept for drying post treatment - 2 days under direct morning sunlight. Later on, they are shifted to shaded area and kept fro 3 months for seasoning





Meshar Ahmed - Chief Craftsman of KraftInn at work,



Aamer Ali - Craftsman, KraftInn at work







Giving Final touches

Jogen Harijan - Craftsman, KraftInn doing the final checks

Candle Shades kept for drying.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Work in Progress: Atlas Shrugged

Being book lovers, we have been always coming up with new ways of storing them. We in KraftInn believe that best decorative piece in any home would be their bookshelves. Our Wisdom Tree in the past has helped us bring many appreciations. Looking at the response, we decided to sit for our next design of bookshelf. Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged happened to be there at that time, and that lead us to our design, "Atlas Shrugged." For book lovers, books define their world completely. 
The following are the initial images that we are working on presently:



The globe would hold from 35-40 books. Let us know your feedback.

- Team KraftInn


Monday, February 6, 2012

Welcome to KraftInn Blog

Welcome to our blog! We are the KraftInn team. We are into manufacture of contemporary handicraft items and we strive for excellence in what we do. 

Through this blog we’ll discuss things about the company and the handicraft industry. The mission for our blog is to share information that will help make everyone feel part of our creations. We hope to get your thoughts on what is important to you, what you like about our blog and products, and where we need to improve. And through our discussions, we hope to deliver with you products that meet your needs.

KraftInn was established in June 18, 2010 in Jorhat, the cultural capital of Asaam, India. It was a humble start, with two craftsmen in work, we started working with various designs and came up with 10-12 designs. In August, we got our first consignment from Design Inline. After that, there has been no looking back. Today we have a wide variety of handicraft products and they are available all over India through various online channels and our Showroom at Jorhat, Assam. Do visit www.kraftinn.com for more details

.