When they sold 200 T-shirts on the first three days of going into business, the founders of Hangoutstore.in knew that their decision to cater to the anime and gaming aficionados was not work that would go down the drain. Hangoutstore is an e-commerce website that offers anime, manga and gaming based accessories like T-shirts, laptop skins and posters.
Vikas Sharma, 26, an Electronics Engineer from Bangalore was a Software Engineer with TCS before starting up with Hangoutsore while Piyush Kumar and Sonap Garg are third-year engineering undergrads at Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi. As the two student entrepreneurs put it, “Our hostel rooms were filled with boxes and boxes of t-shirts. We don many roles: Co-founder, Packing guys, Customer care rep and Designers.” With three full-time workers now, they also use the services of freelancers to expedite their operations.
The story of this startup began with a friend of one of the founders, a gaming enthusiast, searching online for a t-shirt for a gaming event and finding none available. It struck the founders that there was room for business there. Piyush and Vikas set up the company on March and were later joined by Sonap.
“Our business idea was born and conceptualised in January this year. At first, we did not have a website and accepted orders through email/phone calls. It wasn’t easy. But within two months, we had the website up and running and are now delivering T-shirts all over the country,” says Sonap.
On being able to manage their studies along with the activities of the Hangoutstore, Piyush says, “It does get hectic, especially during exam time. Planning and managing studies is the only way to come out a winner.”
They are also planning to start providing personalised gift items and add newer products such as hoodies, key chains and full sleeved T-shirts. Hangoutstore has tied up with courier services like FedEx, Aramex and Delhivery to ensure speedy delivery to its customers.
“We love competition. In fact, we believe that it is good for business, as it would help us be more aggressive. We are not concentrating too much on TV-series based goods, as there are competitive players in that segment. We have also tied up with Parshu, a new comic book superhero character based on Parashuram, the mythological character from Ramayana. We sell their comic books as well as their merchandise on our platform,” says Vikas.
Piyush’s success with Google’s Online Marketing Challenge has helped them market their products online while they are also investing time and money on Google ads, social media promotions and campus ambassador programmes to market Hangoutstore. They are selling more than 150 products each week and are planning to break even in a year’s time.