What does it take to build a start-up? Does one need exorbitant entrepreneurial skills, an intricate and detailed business plan, a great team, right investors? Of course all these are inevitable, but coming up with an idea that creates a business and provides a value which is not currently being provided lies at the core of a start-up. Two year ago, Nishant Chandra (IITR 4th year, P&I student, Secretary of EDC), founded Bookshelf, a books-rental platform, with a simple mission of promoting the reading culture in IITR. Since then, they have tried new things and tested new platforms to make the process of renting and reading smooth and lucid.
##Concept and the Working Model
Although there is no dearth of people who are fond of reading books in IITR, there are not many provisions for providing renting and reading services. The institute library holds an umpteen number of books, but most of them being technical in nature narrow the service-horizon. This is when Bookshelf comes into picture. They have a number of novels spanning from science fiction, biographies, history, romance, thrillers to much more. One can select a book from a given list, pay a deposit, and the book will get delivered to his/her room. On returning, a very nominal amount is deducted and the deposit given back. The deposit is a meagre Rs 100 for any book. The rent for 10 days is just Rs 20 which cannot ever make it not affordable for anyone. Another convenience value provided by Bookshelf is their room-delivery service, which makes it all the more lucrative.
##Collection and Ordering
The books which are in the collection are owned by fellow students. The owners whose books get rented get half of the rent paid for it. Hence, it provides a quintessential ‘value-for-all, incentive-for-all’ model.
Bookshelf’s trying to promote reading culture by directing people to Goodreads.com. There, you can check out the books your friends have read and see suggestions for further reading. You can also join the IIT Roorkee community on Goodreads by clicking here. http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/59866-bookshelf-iit-roorkee
How can YOU help?
They are currently looking for students who wish to contribute and help them to expand their collection. So do get in touch.
##In Conversation with Nishant:
Q) How would you describe your initial experience with ‘Bookshelf’?
A) The idea of starting ‘Bookshelf’ struck me in the third semester. I love reading books, and so I already had a decent collection of books with me. I shelled out some money from my pocket to buy some more novels and this set the machinery working. In the beginning, books were circulated only in Rajiv Bhawan and there were only 4 contributors. The business reached break even in a short period of time, but there was no competitive streak in me. During this time, another similar start-up had started gaining popularity among the students. This was a turning point for Bookshelf. I started focussing on marketing strategies, which were previously being ignored. A small team was built and we worked together to make it a successful venture.
Q) What are your future plans for ‘Bookshelf’?
A) It is more of an initiative than a start up. Currently, our team comprises of eight members and we circulate around 300 books per semester. We would like to explore more opportunities in the campus and also optimise the reading experience that we provide.
Q) Any advice you would like to give to the budding entrepreneurs who wish to start a business venture?
A) It is necessary to have a clear idea of what you want in your mind. While planning a business structure, one must maximise consumer information and aim at developing a minimum viable product. This prevents chaos and eliminates uncertainty regarding the product. Coming up with an idea is extremely important, but putting your plan into action is what really helps to bring your entrepreneurial skills to the fore. The fundamental activity of a start-up is to turn ideas into products, measure how customers respond, and then learn to plan your further actions.