Yes!poho: Enhancing the Lives of Indian Artisans

Pawan Hora, Co-founder, yespoho

In today’s world where everyone looks for quick and easy options, we somewhere forget about the artisans. The amount of talent and dedication people use while making handmade products is mind boggling. Somehow, looking at current situations and trends people usually don’t go for hand made products and are more inclined towards machine made products.

In such times having a company, which supports your unique work is like a blessing. The talent of artisans is fading with generation, don’t you think? The solution for this is Yes!poho, a company that supports you in every way possible with 100% of its efforts. How thoughtful!

During pandemic the world faced huge economic loss, industries across various verticals also faced huge loss. Then think about small businesses and start-ups that do not have any recognition. But, Yes!poho did everything in its power to support its staff and the artisans within small villages.

While we were in search of start-ups for the upcoming magazine, we came across this amazingly innovative start-up named, Yes!poho.

Following in this interview, Raghuram Kuchibhatla the Founder and CEO of the company shares with us the challenges he faced during his initial days and enlighten us with the hard work done by artisans. Give it a read: – 

Kindly mention in detail about Yes!poho and its inception story. 

Yes!poho was founded in October of 2017. I moved to the United States to pursue my master’s in electrical engineering after completing my bachelor’s degree in Dindigul. I found numerous businesses during my career, one of which is a commodity/contract trading platform. Around 2011, when presenting this product to a number of small to midsize businesses, farmers, and traders in the United States and South America, I gave a demonstration to a friend from engineering school who comes from a weaving community.

My goal was to get him on board for his raw material purchases (silk). He invited me to meet him in Walajapet, near Kanchipuram, after the product presentation. Following my meeting with him, I travelled to India and visited all of the weaving villages in and around Kanchipuram, Walajapet, Salem, and Dindigul. I discovered that the artisan community is dealing with a much more serious and widespread issue.

At the same time, I chose to buy a saree for my family members on my way back, and that shopping experience was not pleasant-we spent several hours stuck in traffic going from store to store. Both of these incidents ushered in an era in which customers are unhappy on one hand and the artisan community is in danger of extinction on the other.

Why are customers dissatisfied? And why, despite all the government programmes, hundreds of retail outlets, and ecommerce corporations, is the artisan community on the edge of extinction?

This is when I began working on a solution to the existing issue and launched Yes!poho. The name Yespoho comes from the Spanish word ‘Espojo,’ which means ‘mirror.’ The term has been changed to make it easier to pronounce, and it now means “Yes! In front of the mirror, I look good.”

What is the current scenario of the industry that you are catering to?

Yes!poho is trying to differentiate itself in this market by not only attempting to gain a leadership position through its business model, but also by improving artisans’ livelihoods and socio-economic conditions through technology and direct market access.

Thus, eliminating price and quality in-transparency issues such as building trust between the weavers and the guests, bringing the communities together, and considering time as a valuable commodity. 

Is your start-up bootstrapped or are you looking for funding options?

Since turning profitable in 2019, the company has bootstrapped with approximately INR 2 crore and is looking to raise financing for market growth and expansion. Investors, on the other hand, appear to be uninterested in fashion, arts, and crafts since they believe it is not a viable investment option. 

How has the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic influenced your business operations?

The second wave is far more powerful than the first. We raised donations and held a food drive during the first wave to distribute food packs to our Artisan community.

We have seen and heard our artisan families lose life during the second wave, which is far more devastating than the first. We all know that life is more important than anything else, and Yes!poho’s goal is to enhance artisans’ livelihoods, but if lives are being lost, the goal is meaningless. While the country does a good job of providing medical services and raising awareness about COVID in Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities, the situation in villages is different.

Yes!poho is taking every precaution to ensure the safety of Yespovians, consumers, and their families.

As a start-up, what steps are you taking to acquire new customers or retain the existing ones in these challenging times of Covid-19? 

Yes!poho is now concentrating on delivering webinars and organising medical camps to raise awareness and assist artisans in protecting their families and communities. We are also forming partnerships with local NGOs and doctors in order to assist our artisan community in overcoming the second wave and living a happy life. 

What kind of products or services your start-up offers?

The platform fulfills women’s fashion needs by offering a diverse range of Designer Sarees, Party Wear, Uppada Sarees, Darmavaram Sarees, Pochampalli Ikkat Sarees, Designer Paithani Sarees, and many more. Not only this Yes!poho’s patrons can also choose from a large selection of ethnic suits, kurta sets, and dress materials.

The platform gets its ethnic designer outfits from all around India by engaging directly with all of the country’s artisans with its guests. Yes!poho believes in offering clients with a wide range of options and provides a secure and convenient online shopping experience at reasonable costs. 

What kind of challenges have you faced while incorporating your company?

We had difficulty persuading weavers in rural locations to switch to an internet platform. We did not, however, work with artisans remotely. Rather, we spend weeks and months living in these artisan villages to learn about their problems, set up infrastructure, and provide online training. We selected KOL influencers who have benefited from going online and showed how simple it is to better one’s life through online commerce. As part of our training, we also assisted artisans in demonstrating the genuine value of their items. We also provided analytics on changing customer tastes and preferences so that businesses can meet demand. 

Where do you envision yourself and your company to be in the long run and what are your future goals?

In terms of handlooms or handicrafts, I intend to get on board with all Indian artisans. In the next five years, I want to connect them directly to the market and enhance their social-economic situation and livelihood by 30-40%. I have set a goal for Yes!poho to get 10 million app downloads in a year. 

Is there anything else you would like to add? 

Our platform is a TechnoExperience based social platform that connects artisans directly to their customers through active participation using technology like AR/VR and S-commerce to develop trust and relationships. The portal has unique technology such as TryMeTM, CreateMyDesignTM, and ChatWithWeaver, which allows customers and artists to interact directly. We offer an app for artisans that allows them to manage inventory, orders, status, and notifications, all while keeping their language preferences in mind. 

Can you brief us about yourself?

I graduated from Lamar University in Texas with a master’s degree in electrical and computer technology, as well as Pace University in New York with a master’s degree in accounting and finance. I am also a PMI project management specialist with a Microsoft Certified Solution Developer credential. Working at a range of firms and start-ups at an early age, I believe, I have strengthened my ability and competence.

During my journey to India in 2015, I visited several artisan villages in the south, where I discovered a similar problem in weaver communities, despite all of the government programmes, retail stores, and thousands of e-commerce enterprises. The main difficulties were low pay, absurd technology, inadequate infrastructure, and communal discord. After a bad saree shopping experience including many store visits, uneven pricing, and no-return policies, I came up with the idea for Yes!poho, a TechnoExperience company that will provide a social platform for direct contact with weavers and buyers.

With the goal of improving the livelihoods and socioeconomic situations of artisans, as well as the cultures of dying handloom and handicraft workers. I aspire to give the best customer experiences possible to all customers in India and around the world, in terms of inexhaustible sources, product availability, and convenience.

Related Posts