Entrepreneurs: Jayashree and Venkatesh
Business Name: Happy Cubes
Welcome to Entrepreneurs of India #startupstories episode 110
Happy Cubes is the brainchild of two full-time engineers – Jayashree and Venkatesh – who are also best friends. It is an online store for personalised gifts. It’s a go-to place if you want to surprise your dear ones on their special days. They sell a range of exclusive handmade gifts – from scrapbooks to explosion boxes – at an affordable pricing.
For Jayashree and Venkatesh, Happy Cubes isn’t just a business that generates revenue. It’s a way of unleashing their creativity. They go to office on weekdays and manage the business on weekends.
As entrepreneurs, they are taking baby steps to build the brand. The products are sold exclusively through Facebook and Instagram. We catch up with cofounder Jayashree to unfold the complete story of Happy Cubes.
1) How did you get your idea for this business?
Ever since childhood I have been a creative kid. Drawing and portrait sketching has been hobby always. I used to draw whenever I find time. After I started working in Oct 2017, I hardly did any drawings. It was in May 2018, I made my first Explosion Box. I made it as a gift for my brother.
I posted a video of the Explosion Box in my personal art blog in Instagram (which is now the Happy Cubes page) and it was an instant hit among my family and friends. I made that explosion box just out of my love for art and crafts and I had no intentions of making it a business. But then a friend of mine asked whether I can make one for him.
So I crafted an Explosion Box on request. Even though my friend insisted on paying I didn’t accept any payment as I wasn’t even sure of how much to charge. That’s where everything started.
After I posted the video of my second box I started getting more requests. That’s when I thought, “Why shouldn’t I start doing this as a part-time business?”. After few months, I partnered with my best friend Venkatesh who also does awesome crafting and also helps me in the digital stuff. To sum up Happy Cubes wasn’t a planned business for me; it is the best serendipity that happened in my life.
2) Why is “now” a good time for this idea to exist?
Everybody would want to make their loved ones feel special and unique gifts are always on demand. What’s a better option than a personalised gift to surprise someone? We craft with an intention to make personalised gifts affordable to everyone.
It is now a great time for this idea to exist because we live in a world of internet and social media helps artists to showcase their talents. Rewind 10 years it wouldn’t have been possible to start a business with such less investment. Thanks to Facebook and Instagram for helping artists/crafters like us to promote their business.
3) What was the reaction from your family when you first decided to become an entrepreneur?
Business is something very new to my family and Venky’s family. None of our family members are into business hence they are as excited as we are and they are extremely supportive of our works.
4) What was your biggest mistake in business and what did you learn from it?
When we started taking commissioned orders we didn’t take any advance payment from our customers. We completed the orders and delivered them on time but never received payments on time. We got extremely stressed since both of us have a full-time job and it was practically impossible to run behind people asking for payments. That’s when we learnt that we should never take orders without payment, be it anyone.
Also in many instances we compromised on our charges (even though we charge a reasonable price) since people requested us. In long run we understood that we should never compromise on our payments if we respect our art. People who value your work will never ask you for a discount/ask you to do it for free.
5) What is your biggest obstacle in the next 12 months and how will you overcome it?
Time has been our biggest barrier. Since we both have a full-time job, we get to craft only on weekends and hence we limit to taking about 8-10 orders per month. We work on orders as they come by and we craft everything from scratch. Almost all our free-time goes into crafting and we are coming up with more time saving techniques so that we can take more orders every month.
6) What habits contribute to your success?
We both work as a team and the fact that we both are best friends contributes to our success. When you have a partner in your business there will be difference of opinions and there will be misunderstandings. But how you handle it matters and we both are glad that we have each other.
We take every single order of ours seriously and we are very generous in using our best papers and craft materials. We sit and plan on how many orders to take per month depending on our personal commitments and make sure we deliver all the orders on time.
7) If you had the opportunity to start this business again what would you do differently?
I cannot think of anything that I would do differently. Only thing is If I could time travel I would go back and start this business when I was still studying.
8) What is your favourite inspirational quote?
“Don’t work 8 hours for a company then go home not work on your own goals. You are not tired, you are uninspired”
9) Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in everyone I meet. I feel there is something to learn from everyone you meet. Everyone you will ever meet will know something you don’t know.
10) What is your favourite book?
‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho. I am strong believer of the quote from this book, ‘“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
11) What advice would you give to someone starting out?
You move closer to success every time you learn from a mistake. Embrace your mistakes.
The love for creativity and handicraft products made these youngsters start their business. They proved how you can achieve a fine balance between your professional and entrepreneurial life. Personalised gifting industry is aggressively growing in India. Within a short span of time, Happy Cubes became one of the most popular brands in the segment. Jayashree and Venkatesh made this happen by blending unique design with affordable pricing. There is no huge financial backing for their startup; their only investment is passion. So, put your passion into whatever you’re doing. It will work.
You can follow Happy Cubes on Instagram here.