Siddhaant Mehta had a great dream to start his business as a side hustle, and he turned it into a reality with lots of effort and hard work. A strategist at heart, while working at OYO for almost five years, Siddhaant started an e-commerce business in India, i.e., Dropefy.com.
Siddhaant, born in New Delhi, has already marked his presence in the Indian startup niche at the age of 27 after getting inspiration from his father, & OYO Founder and CEO Ritesh Agarwal (since both of them are the same age) and the numerous enterprising people he met during his short career till now.
In 2015, after finishing his Masters in Management and Marketing from Lancaster University and a short course in Communication and Technology from Cornell University, he joined a budding startup called OYO, now the second-largest hotel chain in the world.
Siddhaant had carried out a plethora of roles from Sales, operations, strategy, marketing, brand and he even worked directly with OYO’s Founder and CEO, Ritesh Agarwal, for a year. He is thankful since it is an opportunity that not everyone gets in such an early stage of their career.
Later, Siddhaant got inspired to start his business and launched his e-commerce venture in India, i.e., Dropefy.com. He sold every day unique products to the masses as a side hustle. He loves to call it a one-person bootstrapped show since he handled everything from website design and development, product selection, pricing, online marketing, Growth strategy, CRM, procurement to finance, and fulfillment himself.
He scaled his business to 50+ products and a seven-figure revenue and sold it to an individual buyer within a year while having a full-time career at OYO.
While Siddhaant directed the business for a year, he achieved the actual sales feat within only 2.5 operational months. Notably, the site is no longer active post his exit as the COVID-19, and the Indo-China border standoff has disrupted the imports from China, which the business heavily relied on.
Nevertheless, Siddhaant is keen on sharing his story with budding entrepreneurs who feel that launching small startups while having a full-time career is impossible, especially without external funding.
Getting All Things Done
Siddhaant had joined OYO in August 2015, and in the first year of his career, he managed to bring in ~ 5 million INR in revenue from event partnerships. Within a year, his hard work and enthusiasm allowed him to move into the Founder and CXO office.
Moreover, he was key in setting up the first official “Brand team” at OYO, managed the working, and built processes for a smooth transition from existing systems.
Later, he was moved to a new and exciting role at ‘OYO Home,’, which as a concept was the fresh new boy on the block for OYO, as Siddhaant put it. He did a wide variety of roles as the Program Manager from Strategy, Operations to Brand & Marketing, which made him win the ‘Key Contributor’ Award in 2019.
It is worth highlighting that throughout his journey at OYO, he focused on getting all things done in a wide range of products while also working on his side hustle.
The Birth of Dropefy.com
Siddhaant was always interested in e-commerce. He believed the most basic idea of it is fairly straight-forward
“You are essentially an online shopkeeper. The more I thought about it, the more I was convinced that it could be something that I could do with minimum initial investment: a laptop, a phone, a working internet connection, and a focused mind that won’t quit”.
He kept an inventory light model; it allowed him to save on warehouse expenses.
In the year 2018, after a disappointing launch of a Digital Marketing agency, he moved over to pursue e-commerce, and that’s how Dropefy.com was born.
Through his prior experience and “the power of YouTube,” Siddhaant learned how to make and integrate his website, choosing payment merchants, getting vendors on board, selling products, and creating content and marketing products. He spoke to vendors abroad and started selling and shipping products to customers in India.
Managing a Full-time Career and a Side Hustle
Everyone working at OYO has a fierce entrepreneurial spirit, and Siddhaant was no exception. He was in a situation where he had a job he enjoyed while also highly enthusiastic about being an entrepreneur, but he did not want to risk it.
It led him to come up with business ideas which he could start without quitting his full-time job. He used to come back home from work and spend the night hours figuring out all the things he needed to do for his business, including calls/meetings he needed to get done during day hours.
The Challenges Faced
While talking about the challenges he faced while balancing his job and side venture, Siddhaant stated the most challenging part of the entire Dropefy’s operation was international delivery into India and finding trusted manufacturers in a foreign country.
But since Siddhaant had an inventory light model, he did not keep any inventory with him. He got his products shipped directly from his supplier to customers and saved warehousing costs.
However, getting single orders shipped across international borders in small but frequent quantities was time-consuming. It was also difficult to keep track of the international mailing system.
There were always high risks of orders getting lost, and customers being disappointed. Siddhaant overcame this challenge by identifying the best-sold products through the data collected, ordered them in large quantities, and stored them in his house.
He improvised his initial model according to the demand, packaged them himself during the night, and shipped them the next morning. It enabled him to ensure on-time delivery and brand his packaging. Even though it made his sleeping schedule take a bad hit, Siddhaant is glad that his efforts paid off to some extent.
Milestones and Motivation
“Getting that first sale and getting the ball rolling is always the hardest. Once you get started, you get the confidence and motivation to go beyond. As I got my first sale, I was so happy that I got the validation. But more importantly, I was like, What’s Next?”
That’s what kept him going, and then he got his first ten sales, then 100 sales, 500 sales, and so on. The satisfaction of building something from the ground and growing it up day by day is what kept Siddhaant motivated.
Apart from a couple of friends, Ranu Gupta, Founder – Gigzoe & Akanksha Purohit, Visual Communication Designer who helped Siddhaant with certain things, none of his family or friends knew about his e-commerce venture. To date, several of his family members and friends do not know of his side hustle. We believe that he would be getting many calls to know more once the article is published.
Nevertheless, Siddhaant gave his father a rather ‘shock and aww’ when he learned about his youngest son’s venture since things like these are generally not expected from the younger ones in the family.
Siddhaant is currently on a short career break. However, he is looking forward to pursuing a good opportunity and is optimistically looking at the future.
Siddhaant believes that his story would inspire other budding entrepreneurs.
“Just start. There is no ‘right time’, provided you know what you’re doing. Don’t feel launching small startups while having a full-time career is impossible, especially without external funding. Concentrate on one day at a time.”