Akshita Sekhri & Sonali Batra, Co-Founders, Mi Casa Collective on beating Covid-induced disruptions

Akshita Sekhri, Sonali Batra
Akshita Sekhri, Sonali Batra

Co-Founders of Micasacollective.Com, Akshita Sekhri & Sonali Batra joined NewsX for an exclusive conversation in its special program, NewsX India A-List. Akshita and Sonali spoke about their comapny and shared how the pandemic has affected their business.

Addressing the ongoing pandemic’s effect on their business, Akshita said, “Essentially it was unforeseen as it was for most businesses but I think for us it did come as a slight rude shock because we do a lot of offline shows and offline was our main business which completely stopped. All the events we had planned, we had a lot of shows planned, they all sort of came to a complete standstill and it was quite uncertain that how long it would go on for or how serious the issue was. So the pandemic was one of the low points of at least 2020 for us and it completely pivoted our business model. So it was quite iconic in the way it fitted our business model but it was just a sudden shock for us, hundred percent.”

Joining the conversation, Sonali said, “Like Akshita said, our business model completely changed during the pandemic. I actually look at it as an advantage because we went from offline to online and that was a big change, as of today, all the sales that we are doing, all the marketing we are doing, every campaign that we are doing, everything is purely online. So it was a big change but I think it was something very necessary and of course, with the pandemic it was more of an urgent need for us to quickly move our business model online. So I think that has been the biggest change and I actually look at it at as now we have two verticles, ofcourse, online and hopefully by next year, offline again.”

According to Sonali, they retail about 2,000 products at Mi casa Collective, for them the biggest con was that during the pandemic when most people were taking a break from work, they were actually starting from scratch. Sonali said that building their website, it was a very stressful time but she would not look at it as a con as such.

“Another con for online businesses is that clients do prefer a brick-and-mortar and seeing the product in flesh, so that’s ofcourse the flip side. But the biggest takeaway is that we can now cater to clients across India vs just Delhi,” said Sonali.

Talking more about the changes that they faced after going online, Akshita said, “Brick-and-mortar of course has its own pros and cons like Sonali mentioned and of course personally I also prefer a brick-and-mortar, slightly more traditional way of retail. So I definitely do hope everything clears out or at least the new norm for having exhibitions or offline shows etc put into place so we can have the best of both worlds essentially. In terms of marketing, its a completely different ball game, online is so strategic and tech-driven, it’s a lot about retargeting, reaching out to completely new demographics which is something we haven’t done before. We use a lot of performance marketing studies and analytics in terms of how we market whereas whenever we have offline shows, they are very localized.”

Akshita went on to say, “Our strength has been Delhi, we are both from Delhi. We started our journey from Delhi, so we have built our clientele here. It’s much easier to draw in a club crowd in terms of a localized city as opposed to online because it’s kind of still like a hidden child. Somedays Bangalore would do really well, somedays Ahmedabad will do really well but in terms of having the offline shows, the marketing strategy is that our old clients come to us repeatedly, we have a good relationship with them and the conviction that it takes to bring them offline is actually far easier because you’re reaching out to people staying in Ahmedabad or Hyderabad, etc through offline, they haven’t really experienced our brand before essentially.”

Sonali advised young entrepreneurs to adapt, see what is going on and come out of their comfort zone. She added that having a digital presence in today’s scenario is also very important.

Akshita also shared a piece of advice with the budding entrepreneurs, she said, “Adaptability, be ready to pivot as much as you have to and also if you are chasing a dream, don’t leave any stone unturned. These are trying times for everybody but if you have conviction and patience, I think that can take you a long way and even if we didn’t have it, we have started to learn how to have it and it really worked to our advantage.”