1. Indians are famous for being conservative when it comes to sex. Are attitudes changing?
I don't think Indians were conservative about sex, if that had been, what explains the 1.3 billion population. In fact, Indians are just conservative talking about it or expressing it in open. That is the reason why up until few years ago, such conversations could never be done over coffee and always only with mates/spouses. However a lot has changed in last 10 years and much of it in last 3-5 years. We have been exposed to a world of no borders, and the cultures across the oceans influence oat of our lifestyle habits. Earlier, a show like Baywatch would be considered non consecrative, but now many young adults are comfortable watching hollywood/western movies/shows/webisodes/
2. What kind of market research did you do before setting up your business? What gave you the confidence that it would succeed?
We have been born and brought up in India and moved out only in the last few years. So, we were very familiar with the Indian culture, family values, way of thinking and the ‘in’ lifestyles. When we struck upon this idea, we were already aware that India would have many restrictions that may or may not make this a financially viable and sustainable venture, however after we did over 6 months of research, both in India and in US, talking to senior custom officials, attorneys specializing in relevant laws and other various agencies, we realized that there was a huge misinterpretation about the laws in India and not enough was researched in this domain to better understand them and apply them to today's situations. We also realized how many products have evolved throughout the years and pleasure products these days are even being sold in departmental stores and various outlets in the mall, as they have slowly gone mainstream. Being easy on the eye and neutral in expression has made it easier for a consumer to connect with being uncomfortable and easier for sellers to showcase without stepping on customers values/ethics. A sum of all this, and the fact that e-comm was going at train speed in India, gave us the confidence to invest in and build the brand Besharam, which now has come out as one of the most trusted, valued and liked International brand solely directed at Indian audiences in India and worldwide.
3. Did it take some personal courage to set up the business? Were you worried about what your friends/family might say?
Haha..Not at all. My first partner was my brother in law and second partner was my first cousin. We all jumped at this idea and were in it 100% as soon as the first conversation ended. Its funny when we started we had no idea it would become such a big brand, the store was created just to sell one product - Sunnyjism massage gel, to cater to the needs to single individuals and couples across India. As we went developing it, it took shape of a giant adult lifestyle store, and with the press and visitors we had, we knew we had a winning concept ready to be launched. Our Mom’s have been the only one hesitant to talk about the business with her friends and in family, and chooses to say.’My son is in the import export business’..we still make fun of this fact as most of them already know and have been supportive, encouraging and overall impressed at the final product.
4. Yours is the only website that sells vibrators, dildos etc. If I ordered one, is there a possibility that it could be seized by customs officers.
We have shipped over 12k orders since we went live and so far we have had no issues. We cannot ignore the fact that its never a clear definition, as many laws in India are still subjective to the readers perception. So while that possibly is under 5%, however you as a customer are NEVER at risk, as we ship the products, shrink wrapped in a white bubble envelope that is sealed with a barcoded label only. It has absolutely no information of the buyer. After it clears customs along with other packages, our distribution center in India scans the barcode and prints the actual label with customer name and address. It masks off the description and substitutes the shipper name w the name of our corporation in India. This ensures that the order comes to the customer in the most secure format, handled discreetly by the shippers and even in case of a remote interruption, their information is never available to anybody other than us. This is a very integral part of our business foundation and we have been most focused on this very aspect thereby earning the trust of thousands of customers so far.
5. Your website is very careful to avoid any link with pornography. If, for example, I went to a similar website in Australia, I would also be able to buy all kinds of pornographic films. Can you tell me why you have chosen not to get into that sector of the market?
Two reasons. First - Pornography is banned in India, so we specifically chose to stay away with any sort of association with such avenues of sales. Second, we wish to give the customer a boutique and classy shopping experience, like annsummers.com. Adding banners and flashy visuals take away that class act and make us appear like one of the rest. We wish to either get better than the best or be different than the rest. So far it is working..and so far we are making our customers happy, one bedroom door at a time.
Interviewed on 5/1/14 by
South Asia Bureau Chief
The Age - The Sydney Morning Herald