“The excellence of a gift lies in its appropriateness rather than in its value,” said Charles Dudley Warner, American essayist and a friend of Mark Twain. Often, it becomes difficult to find an “appropriate” gift from the plethora of mass-manufactured products available in the market. So, for those who like to put a lot of thought and effort in their gifts, personalised gifting is the way to go.
In India, too, this trend has been picking up in recent times. While there are traditional players dishing out good old sweet-nothings, startups offering a customised experience have been mushrooming to cater to the demand for personalised gifting. If you have an idea for a customised gift, there sure is a startup out there catering to it.
Apart from finding an appropriate gift, another challenge many people face is buying gifts for men. Sexist as it may sound, gifting women is far easier with a multitude of options available. Somehow, there just aren’t as many products that men use and there are limited ideas, choices, and companies when it comes to men-only gifts.
Some players have identified the gap players and launched startups like The Bombay Shaving Company, The Man Company and more have been offering customised products for men. One such startup which is becoming the answer to personalised gifting for men is Mumbai-based The Black Box Co. As the name suggests, the startup curates gift boxes for men, based on their interests, personality types, and occasions.
What’s even more interesting is that the startup looking to solve the male gifting problem is led by two women cofounders.
“Gifting for men is extremely difficult. Women are always complaining as they can’t think of better ideas other than the usual — clothes, wallets, and perfumes. These cliché gift items usually leave men cribbing about the limited options available for them. We realised the market gap and wanted to solve this problem and this is what gave birth to The Black Box Co,” says Rashi Biyani,’’ cofounder, The Black Box Co.
Rashi, who had worked with a corporate for a year, was seeking creative fulfilment. She started researching product-based startups and market gaps and realised that gifting for men had a wide scope as there just weren’t enough players. Her cofounder, Swati Biyani, on the other hand, was always intrigued with the idea of building a brand. Rashi’s business understanding and Swati’s passion for creativity made them the perfect team to run The Black Box Co.
And these craft-preneurs are now aiding other women give gifts to the men in their lives with a personalised touch. “A lot of research, surveys, and feedback later, The Black Box Co. was born. Our main aim is to provide personalised luxury products for men, at accessible price points and sustainable quality,” says Rashi.
Unboxing The Black Box
The offerings of the Black Box Co. go beyond the obvious choice of gifts for men. The gifts are boxed into different categories such as games, accessories, fitness and food, and more. Besides boxes, there is also the option of choosing single products like a pocket square, cufflinks, etc.
“Buyers can choose from our range of pre-curated boxes or make their own black box by adding individual products from all over the website into one black box,’’ says Swati. The most popular products at the moment on the site are personalised AirPods, travel wallets, and mini wallets.
The startup uses a direct B2C sales model, with most of the sales come through its website, third-party platforms, bulk orders, and events. It takes five to six days to deliver a product in a metro city.
Going forward, the startup plans to start an offline distribution channel by selling its products at stores such as Croma and E-Zone, among others. Further, it plans to delve into search engine optimisation and Google ads to generate more leads.
Beating the Competition
Personalised gifting today is the key to impress (and please) loved ones. And there are many options — from personalised gifts for to-be mothers and newborns by a startup called Pamper Hamper, to curated gifts for all occasions by Jaipur-based Indigifts. There are numerous other players such as Presto, Giftcard, FNP, and Vistaprint posing competition for The Black Box Co.
The startup is also facing competition from both online and offline retail gift stores on one hand and synthetic leather accessory manufacturing companies on the other.
Gifting know no bounds — people can gift any product, experience, and even a service. Ecommerce giants like Amazon and Flipkart are also getting in the game with credit-based gift cards while OTAs such as MakeMyTrip and Goibibo have launched gift coupons. Even ICICI Bank and American Express are offering gift cards for both personal and corporate gifting.
No wonder, According to Technopak, the gifting market’s size is estimated at $40 Bn – $42 Bn currently. The many festivals and occasions have been the reason for the thriving gifting industry.
Though Indian startups have created a buzz in many sectors, the gifting industry is not talked about as much in startup circles. But given the potential of the market and given that India loves to celebrate every occasion and festival — from Diwali and Father’s Day to Valentine’s Day — there is a huge scope for startups to tap into the space. And having a razor-sharp focus on one area, like The Black Box Co., only makes their chance at success higher.
The Black Box Co. was a Gifting Partner At Inc42’s flagship conference — The Ecosystem Summit.