No entrepreneur should ever underestimate the power of a good referral – Shubhankar Bhattacharya, Yaqsh.com

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Online retail in jewellery currently accounts for over 1% of diamond jewellery sales in India. With more players entering the market, this number is bound to rise. A platform that provides high end jewelry with an expertise in solitaire diamond would certainly heat up the e-commerce scene. Let us explore Yaqsh.com– an online diamond jewellery boutique.

About Yaqsh.com and How does it work?

Yaqsh.com is an online platform specialized in high value diamonds and diamond jewelry. Yaqsh.com has an online stock of over 50,000 loose certified diamonds and diamond jewellery designs, sourced from over 1oo+ vendors. It lets customers design jewelries customized to their requirements.  

The startup is founded by Shubhankar Bhattacharya, Kshitiz Mittal, Akshay Mittal, and Gokul Chandrasekaran. Shubhankar is the CEO of Yaqsh.com. An alumnus of the Indian School of Business, Shubhankar was a ‘Dean’s list’ scholar. He has nearly 6 years of experience in entrepreneurship, corporate strategy, business & product development, M&A, operations, and project management. Kshitiz is a certified diamond graduate from the International Gemological Institute. He has a rich exposure to diamonds and jewellery because of a family jewellery business. Akshay is an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology and completed his MBA from the Darden Business School. He has a five year experience in entrepreneurship, strategy, operations & consulting. Gokul is an alumnus of the Darden School of Business. He has a 7 year experience in entrepreneurship, operations, strategy consulting & public policy.

Market Research, Salient features, and Marketing

Yaqsh.com website was officially launched in early 2013, after the team studied the trends in online retail across various platforms. Yaqsh.com has over 50,000 diamonds, sourced from 100+ vendors, with a value of  about $300 Million. Customers have an option of picking up a diamond and designing their own jewellery. As for Marketing, Shubhankar explains, “Our marketing techniques have been a mix of paid online campaigns, emails and referrals, in addition to targeted free content that helps drives traffic to our website.”

There is often a perception that physical diamond stores offer greater variety in designs than online stores. Yaqsh.com however does not limit its customers by the designs listed on the website. The startup custom-creates  virtually any design their customers request for, through  discussions with them or based on inputs such as photographs & graphic images.

Based on the customer’s order, the team  then fulfil the order through our network of diamond suppliers and (in the case of jewellery items) jewellers.” We buy diamonds only from reputed diamond traders or manufacturers across the world. All of our diamonds are certified by the best certification institutions in the world – GIA, IGI, AGS & HRD.”, says Shubhankar.

We ask Shubhankar on what’s the biggest assumption that got busted since he started up?

One of our assumptions when we started off was that in our first year or so, all of our sales would come only from India. This was proved wrong when one of our earliest orders came from a customer based in Germany. This also implied that we had to fast-track the process of making ourselves ready for international customers – Enabling international payments, registering ourselves as exporters and arranging for international logistics for our products.

This shows that, as a startup you need to be nimble and be ready to change course fast as the situation demands.

Competition, USP, Challenges and funding

There are a few established competitors in the market such as CaratLane, BlueStone and KaratKraft.  “Our emphasis remains on certified diamond solitaires and the jewellery that require specialized expertise with solitaire diamonds. We also strongly focus on bringing transparency into the market by educating our customers as much as possible and helping them make an informed decision. up our own operations, technology and service to deliver a consumer experience that can help us win this trust”, says Shubhankar.

Reaching out to customers in Tier-2/3 cities turned out to be the biggest challenge for Yaqsh.com. But, with fewer jewellery options in these cities, Yaqsh.com may come out as an attractive platform. The startup is self funded for now. The team is in talks with prospective investors, including VCs and HNIs. “Judging from the response we have got thus far, the demand for buying diamonds online is certainly growing. Apart from cities in India, our customers have also come from the US, UAE & Germany to name a few international locations”, says Shubhankar.

Revealing their secret sauce, “We have had great success with referrals coming in through our early customers and our shared contacts.  No entrepreneur should ever underestimate the power of a good referral, it makes for a very strong lead, and if done right, can cost very little, or nothing at all !”, concludes Shubhankar.

TTP’s Take

Yaqsh.com provides a wide variety of diamond jewellery and the option of designing your own jewellery will attract more users. Backed by a team of highly successful individuals with an amazing academic background, Yaqsh.com shows signs of a leading online jewellery retail store. Being in a nice e-commerce sector is good, and having established players verifies the market.  Strong offline marketing would do well for the online presence of Yaqsh.com. TTP wishes Yaqsh.com all the very best!