Anish Godha and his cousin were able to turn an 8th-generation family business into something new, creating a starting with $2 million in revenue. Diamondere is their e-commerce business which allows customers to design their own jewelry, bringing an ancient art into the realm of modern technology.
The family business had clients who were the elite of India. Up until his father they worked for kings and rajahs across India. As the family grew and times changed, his father’s generation saw a need to go in a new direction and began exporting jewelry as well, beginning around 1989.
Anish and his cousin continued the process of adapting to the times when they founded Diamondere. They eliminated the middleman that had to be present in his father’s model by bringing custom jewelry directly to the consumer.
Anish came to the US on a student visa for his undergraduate and graduate studies; Diamondere was started right after graduation. By the time his optional practical training was coming to an end, Diamondere was already able to sponsor him for a work visa.
While some might expect that jewelers would be well off, Anish says the business is cyclical and that ultimately there isn’t huge profit in diamonds, since they are commoditized and both the diamond and the work and materials around them are expensive. One of the early struggles, in fact, was focusing too exclusively on diamonds.
After about a year, though, they realized that colored gemstones offered an avenue to greater profit and that consumers were looking for advice on how to evaluate them. They were able to use contacts they already had to gain access at good prices to high-quality gemstones, which proved popular.
Sunil says that as an entrepreneur, you really have to believe in what you do, and you really have to have passion for what you do.
In Diamondere’s case, their website is never complete; there’s always updates and improvements to customer experience. They worked hard to make it seems like a luxurious space; after all, they weren’t selling t-shirts or anything else that was already common on e-commerce sites. They also saw the advantages that technology offered. Computers had already helped speed up the process of creating jewelry by rendering models; but now, they could help restore custom pieces by allowing the consumer to participate online in designing their own pieces.
They have a high focus on SEO and focus on keywords that help customers through their research phase. The focused a lot on SEO, social media, Google Ads and content for customers. They tried to share customers’ questions online.
Revenues have been doubling almost every year. For 2016 they expect to be around $2 million. Support came from family; they haven’t taken outside funding at this point. Using their own money, they believe they’re more careful with it than they might be with someone else’s. Within a year or two, they were at an economic positive. Having built this corporate culture, if they decide to take outside funding, they feel they’ll be more disciplined and wise in spending others’ money.
Sunil notes that your view of failure is important. If you confront it and learn why you failed, you’ll be able to succeed. It’s not binary – fail or succeed. It’s a process of failing a bunch of times in order to succeed. Keep experimenting; it’s a process of trial and error. Understand why you failed, and keep going forward. “Success is an iceberg; you can see the top part, but the bottom part that’s hidden is 5 or 10 times larger,” he says.
Advice for Others Getting Into E-commerce
- Figure out your unique perspective or gap in a saturated market
- If you can present a product that’s not available, or implement a new technology to make it work, then you can consider e-commerce.