Nature has so much to offer in terms of self reflection and internal growth which we ignore in the continuous hustle. Moonstone Hammock tries to bring people close to nature, forget the city life, take a pause and self introspect. This travel startup was launched in January, 2016 by:
- Pratik Jain – Operations, inventory management and business development- lawyer by education.
- Rohit Dube – Finance, strategy collaborations and business development- MBA in finance.
- Pradeep Singh – Campsite management & food. He leads by example, in how the camp has to be run and what the food to be served.
- Abhishek Dabholkar – Campsite decor & food. He brings the vibe and the feel of the camp, an MBA in marketing, he is more focused on content creation that selling it.
- Megh Doshi – Marketing & PR. Heads the marketing & Branding of Moonstone hammock. He has completed his PGDM in Marketing.
All the founders are close friends since 13 years who came together thanks to sports and college cultural festivals. From then, they developed the love and passion for travel which made them travel together every year. And finally inspired from one of the trips in 2015, Moonstone Hammock was born. We are publishing an interview with Mr. Pratik:
Q.: What is the problem you are trying to solve?
Ans: We think people are not yet really aware with life that’s there in nature. With Moonstone Hammock, we try to bring them to close to nature, forget the city life, take a pause and self introspect. Not just live but feel every minute, every breath of your life.
The next problem is to convince people that camping is not only made for Bear Gills. It is accessible to each and everyone. Event if it is their first time outdoors. We did start with proper sanitation, never have we once called portaloos. All our washrooms are brick and mortar and there is no compromise on the comfort. To make it more approachable we had transportation to and fro the camp in buses (though we have stopped now), we have made roads that reach a 5000 sq. ft. car parking able to swallow 50 cars.
Inshort the challenge is to get people out of their known comfort and join us in the outdoors, where we are sure to convert them as camping evangelists. Making available all the wanted luxuries and comfort is the first step that we took, we have now introduced Glamour Camping.
Getting amenities and comfort in the lap of nature is our 2nd step to break the perception of hippies doing camping.
Q.: Can you share with us any insights that led you to believe that this is a big enough problem?
Ans: I would like to bring this to your notice whatever you see and experience at Moonstone hammock is from our personal experiences. I am sure when you come to our campsite, each one of you will find something thats relatable to yourself.
What i mean is, being working professionals we realized that everyone around us including ourselves have the same monotonous weekends. After the stressful weekdays, all we wanted was to move out where we can breathe fresh air, get away from the traffic & crowd, and actually live the well earned weekend.
And thus with Moonstone Hammock we started curating an experience that’s not exactly luxury but gives you good comfort with all the camping experience. Camping is very raw concept and we wanted our customers to experience this.
Q.: Tell us about the Product / Solution. Explain how you went about the Product-Market Fit Process.
Ans: Coming up with a solution was not actually really a task. We knew the problem- Everyone is tired from the weekday work and your job is to bring smiles on their faces.
So what we did we used all our travel experiences from the years to curate such experiences. Our trips to different parts of India have been really inspirational which helped us to bring the vibrant campsite decor, understanding needs of travellers, adding human touch to our service and most importantly creating the ‘vibe’.
Q.: What is your USP?
Ans: Our USP is the whole vibe, from the moment you enter the campsite and the moment you leave the camp, we make sure there is something for everyone. The whole itinerary is made in a way that it becomes an experience for you rather just any weekend trip.
Right from activities like kayaking, team games, sports activities to entertainment like movie screening under the stars, live band and bonfire. and yes if you don’t want to anything, nature is at your lap.
The glamping tents and the floating tents are the first ever product of its kind.
Q.: What were your assumptions when you entered the market, learning that you have? Who in your mind is your ideal customer? Do you have at least one of them signed up?
Ans: Never take your customers for granted. They are the ones who make or break your business. As we are in service industry, there’s no way you can compromise in quality. We have customers from all age group but majority of them are working professionals. But for us everyone is a camper from a 18 year old to a 56 year old ( Yes we have had those couples, mind you they will put a teeangers energy at test).
Q.: What has been your biggest failure as an entrepreneur and what did you learn from it??
Ans: We faced many challenges and failures since the time we have started the company. But being together and keeping the bigger goal in mind has been the greatest learning. Someone has rightly said its not about how hard you can get hit but how you move ahead and conquer it. The bigger goal is to keep moving ahead and creating the best experiences.
Q.: How are you pricing the Product? What is the logic behind it? What is the model you are following – Free / Freemium / Premium etc. ? Explain your thought process.
Ans: Pricing has always been premium because we try to provide much more than what our competitors are providing. We have a lot of solo and female campers in the groups and their safety is our priority.
Q.: How did you get your first customer?
Ans: The first customers are always your friends and people within your network. But to our surprise, there were an equal number of open registrations.
Q.: Please tell us about the investors (if any)
Ans: Its a bootstrapped company. We started the company with a capital savings) of INR 100,000.
Q.: Is there any interesting success story? If yes, please write about it. ?
Ans: The success has been the number of campers increasing year on year. Every year we have seen there is almost 40 percent increase in the number of new people registering for our camps. Major highlight is the percentage of families coming to our camps which was almost 25 % of our sales in the last year. This proves Camping is for everyone!!
Q.: What is the big picture of your startup? Is this Product/service leading to something bigger? If so, how?.
Ans: Currently we see no branded campsite running pan india. We plan to upgrade existing camp sites/farmhouses in different cities and provide them the face of Moonstone Hammock. It’s a win-win situation for them as well as us. That way we expand and help them with better revenues. Yes, we aspire to be the leading and only branded nation wide camping company.
Q.: Since inception, give us a sense of the value of business done by your venture?
Ans: In the last 3 years since our launch, we have had over 5000 campers who have registered and had one of a kind experience at Moonstone Hammock. We have had over appx 20000 people who have enquired about us through various social network tools and website. We are growing by appx 45 % YoY in terms of sales revenue and we are profitable since year. Financial year 2018-19 we clocked our highest sales revenue of INR 7.5 million and we expect to cross 10 million this year.
Q.: What is the insight that you have about this market, which no one else has? Uniqueness about your Startup.
Ans: As I mentioned there is no brand name yet working in this industry and its still a very niche market. With the number of campers and hikers increasing day by day and also lot of people experimenting with experiential stays, camping industry has a long long way to go in india. We plan to bring all the local run campsites under one name so there’s more authenticity while booking them as well.
Q.: List all the names of the core Team Members, along with their Designated Roles – How you see them evolving over time. What would be each of their Skillsets? – Elaborate also if any of the team members has a specific domain expertise.
Ans: Sure. They are:
- Pradeep Singh Chaudhary – Operational and Hospitality, nor does he have a degree in hospitality he also had his own restaurant.
- Abhsihek Dabholkar – He is the Content and ambience creator. He has created beautiful cafes in Hubli and Bangalore. Always thinking outside the box
- Pratik Jain – Having his own supply company in hard. ware and building materials, he is quiet good with lists and timelines. Hence, he is the designated Inventory Manager.
- Rohit Dube – Working in the finance sector for over half a decade, he is the designated Finance head. Spearheads the strategy and business development for Moonstone Hammock.
- Megh Doshi – With his experience in marketing and branding in his previous job and now running an agency, he is the marketing head for moonstone hammock.
Q.: Who do You Perceive as Your Competition? How do you differentiate yourself with them?
Ans: Competition is healthy for any industry to grow. There are few like white collar hippie, Big red tents etc who are doing well around Mumbai. Pan india we don’t think there’s any competition as yet.
Q.: What would be your goal to accomplish in the next six months?
Ans: To have another campsite ready around Mumbai
Q.: What message do you want to convey to fellow entrepreneurs?
Ans: Patience, Dedication and Team work is the key to run a start up. Don’t wait for investors to fund rather create a market that’s self sustaining. Also, before trying ways to increase your revenue, work on ways to cut costs which don’t add any value.
We have learnt this the hard way; each and every one has seen bad times, financially / personally/ academically and so on. But we have come out of it and have given life a try. Its very cliché to say, but yes, you are the sum of all our failures. Do not over complicate your passion, but that also does not mean spear head into it. Know the potential and the buffer you will need fi you fail. One you attain this two, just go for it. Always keeps your eyes and ears open, you may never know what opportunities are just around the corner. Be consistent. It is just one good year in your entire business life, will take you leaps ahead, sit tight, patiently for that time to come.
Thanks Pratik. All the best!