How often is it that you come across business startups that are run by 20-year-old youngsters who are not even undergraduates yet? Not very often, right?
Well, well, well; The Second Angle presents to you, two such youngsters: Surabhi Sanjana Rai and Desh Deepak Singh, thoroughly equipped to blow you away!
The duo started their business when they had just stepped out of their teenage years. The idea was of a book box, a curated monthly subscription box of books that comes along with interesting goodies related to the theme of each month. They named it The Big Bookbox (TBB) which symbolizes their big ideas, big intentions, big efforts, big mottos and of course, their big dreams.
The two met while preparing for their JEE at Kota, but destiny had other plans in store for them. Surabhi started pursuing BA in English from the University of Delhi, and Desh Deepak got himself enrolled in an engineering college.
When TSA asked them how the idea came to their minds, this is what Surabhi said, “The idea isn’t something that I can say I am the first to come up with. The concept is as old as the 1920s with BOTM sending Ernest Hemingway’s new releases. I was planning to do something, anything that changed the face of reading in the country. We don’t have writers today because our readers are sadly restricted to not so well written literature. So considering how lifestyle was better to relate to for people who were even mildly interested, we took to book boxes.”
“Even after Kota, we were in touch, and I was interning as a photographer with National Geographic along with my engineering when Surabhi, being an avid reader, came up with the idea of The Big Book Box. After listening to the idea, I was a bit hesitant because unlike other subscriptions (makeup, etc) the products we would opt for won’t be cheap. A book alone comes around 700 or so. But we took the risk and went ahead with it” added Desh Deepak.
The duo’s motto was to make more and more people read. They aspire to promote a healthy reading culture in India. They select the books very thoughtfully and pick the best of the lot each month for readers to choose from. While sharing their past plans of doing things, Desh shared that he has always worked towards keeping reading pocket-friendly so as to cater to a larger mass. Because the average Indian crowd takes a while to come to the realization, that their investment in TBB bears the juiciest and delicious fruits for all bookworms alike. Therefore he tries to keep the pricing easy on them.
When TSA enquired them of their source of inspiration, the one thing that kept them going, Surabhi like most girls, turned to her mom for guidance, as her mother happens to share her passion for reading. While Desh being a man of the news, everybody from Jeff Bezos to Elon Musk was an inspiration for him. “I strive to do what they have done and brought the kind of change that companies like Amazon have. Of course, with Time their rules have become something that hurts the sellers but that’s where another person has the opportunity to improve,” added Desh Deepak impressing us with the ideal views.
Talking about their journey, Surabhi told TSA that their first entire year was pretty much all hurdles. They ran less and jumped more. Their most difficult problem was to manage college with TBB. As most of us are aware, DU takes it’s under graduation programs very seriously. Hence, it was difficult for Surabhi to handle both the things together. But with the support of her partner Desh she managed it and gradually the workload became manageable. Desh also specified how a tremendous amount of labor is involved in the business. And when you are young as they, with barely any exposure to back you up, one can imagine how they must have strived. “We were rookies but we have worked 20 hours a day at times to get where we are today.” Desh summed up with pride.
Remembering their first month of TBB Surabhi spoke with a sincere joy, “In our first month, we had sold 100 boxes and then declared it sold out. It was huge! Far more than what we had let ourselves hope for. We had estimated a maximum of 50 orders in the first month but it was magnanimous and since then it has only grown.” She even told us how some of the readers of the first monthly edition have stuck with them till now and how it is a matter of great pride to them. Isn’t it an “awe” moment?
While remembering the good things, there needs to be a realistic acceptance to the fact that one cannot escape negative criticism as well as other forms of harsh experiences, when we know full well that no endeavor can come without its little setbacks. The same circumstance was faced by these two entrepreneurs. But they took it in their stride, constantly improving themselves, letting no stone go unturned. However, Surabhi mentioned with gratitude that their merchandise and the books they included were always appreciated and well review by their clients. The product was received with applause and appreciation.
Talking about their differences the two told us that it’s either because of the different interest they have, as Surabhi is inclined towards the creative side of the things and Desh is on the business POV, or it’s because of the unavailability of the other on work for some reason.
Desh also added that now as a team from just two of them, they have grown into a group of 6 hardworking individuals that work full time for TBB.
Calling the end of TSA’s interesting discussion with the two, we asked them about their future plans and that just left us lost for words, this is what they had to say- “Our plans are magnanimous and each one includes books. The Idea of Big Book Box was just a small baby step in the direction of working for access to the best books releases internationally. We are working on our bookstore, our Chapter One. As there is a lot more when reading is concerned. We want to do it so that everyone who holds even a little interest in books gets what they desire to read through us. We hope to bring about a huge change where reading is concerned so much so that publishers and distributors and every big name out there start considering India a major market for books and there isn’t a gap of release dates or issues with printing a particular number of copies for the Indian crowd.”
Isn’t it something one can’t stop him/herself from appreciating? Indeed. And on a note of wishing the TBB team a very good luck, TSA sign off.