It was in 2015, that a first-year engineering student, Ranodeep Saha, from Kolkata, started selling hand-painted terracotta kulhads at festivals and events. But he had very little knowledge of how to scale a business such as this.
Initially, he used to source these earthen pots, paint on them and sell them directly. When these products received outstanding responses from customers, Ranodeep Saha was quick to buy a domain and create a website. “Selling in the online model takes a lot of knowledge of marketing and advertising. I was not aware of these techniques. Then I started selling my products through bookstore kiosks,” he says.
The sales through these offline stores picked up soon. With the revenue earned through this channel, he further scaled up the operations and hired more people to make and sell these products. Rare Planet also received some funding under the Start-Up India program, which was utilized to proliferate sales channels across various locations in India, introduce new product lines and improve the existing products.
Soon after, Rare Planet started receiving international bulk orders and it took off from there! They started selling through renowned bookstores, airports, and also through their e-commerce website.
Later on, as the business grew, Rare Planet got funding and attracted investor interest from various quarters. Fast forward to 2019, Mr. VijayaKumar TR joined in as co-founder and. Mr. Kumar, with decades of experience in retail operations, merchandising, and marketing has been a mentor for Ranodeep and the business. Soon after, they attractedfurther funding from Uni-M Ventures and Venture Catalysts to scaleup.
Rare Planet has now started fulfilling international orders and the international audience has been showing huge traction towards handmade Indian goods. They opened their newest stores in Kolkata and Bangalore airports recently.
Rare Planet: caring for the people and the planet
The young startup now generates revenues of over 6 crores a year and is rearing to expand even further. But they are certainly not limited to earning profits but are doing their part for the society as well. Besides giving a steady employment stream to thousands of rural artisans and their families, they are also providing loan facilities and Covid-related assistance, as these craftsmen are one of the hardest hit in the current pandemic situation for over a year now.
With their #HarGharDurga campaign, Rare Planet has enabled rural women artisans to gain handsome income by making small clay and terracotta idols of the Goddess Durga. In a year when the festivities were limited to homes, these idols sold well, bringing cheer to the artisans and the entire business after the loss caused by pandemic restrictions earlier in 2020.
Rare Planet now aims to further expand its offline presence to cover more states and locations in India. It is now looking forward to connecting with artisans from locations like Rajasthan and Odisha among many others, to promote authentic arts from these states. With this, they want to take more Indian art and craft forms to the international level, as the demand for these products from international markets, has been huge.