Richa, Bindiya and Kanika – the RIBIKA girls are well educated and belong to well-established business families, entrepreneurship kind of runs in their blood. Yet when they decided to focus on their careers, they decided to start their own venture, instead of joining their family businesses.
Richa, Bindiya and Kanika – the RIBIKA girls recall their trip to Goa, accompanied by their husbands, during the Christmas of 2015; a trip that changed their lives forever. Being friends, they had known each other for quite sometime and so had their families. The trip proved to a turning-point in their lives as it was during this trip that the idea and seeds of RIBIKA was conceptualized.
Bareilly, a sleepy small town about 250 kms away from the national capital of India, is a city known for large number of small and medium enterprises. The city has sizeable number of people who have a taste for good fashion and lifestyle, yet owing to accessibility issues, they were more times than not unable to get the latest trends in fashion, home décor and lifestyle within their hands reach. This was the space that RIBIKA fashions aimed to fill, a lifestyle exhibitions company that would bring exhibitors from all over India, exhibiting and selling the best and latest in fashion and lifestyle.
Once back from Goa, Richa, Bindiya and Kanika started working on their dream project. However, everything was not as easy and smooth in the beginning. They had to start from scratch. They had no capital, no brand, no past experience and no business reputation. This proved to be particularly difficult when they started contacting exhibitors from bigger metro centers like New Delhi, Mumbai etc. The exhibitors were reluctant to come and exhibit in a small town and also since RIBIKA was a new company, they had a hard time convincing that they can put up a good show. Richa and Kanika recall how it took them 128 calls to be precise before they got their first confirmation. In their own words, they were about to give-up after having received so many rejections, but their tenacity borne out of their strong desire to do something on their own and carve out a identity for themselves, and the fact that all three of them were together motivating and inspiring each other, kept them going. And finally, they got their first exhibitor. RIBIKA girls recount that moment that became the best moment of their lives. Thereafter it became easier to convince other exhibitors and they started getting confirmations from other exhibitors as well.
Lack of capital was another challenge. All there of them did not want to ask for money from their husbands or from their families. Not that any of them would have been reluctant to help them, infact they were most willing to offer them the seed capital. Yet it was their determination and their streak of independence that they wanted to start the venture completely on their own that made them chose otherwise. Kanika adds – ‘we all come from very loving, caring and well-established business families. But joining family business was not an option that we wanted to take. To carve out our own identity, we wanted to do our own venture something that would enthuse us and now when we were doing it, we wanted to do it without any availing financial help from the families. This was important to build confidence in ourselves and in our venture.’
To ensure that they could work with limited capital, they worked on a two-pronged strategy. On one hand, they worked on advances, in other words, the advance that received from the exhibitors, they used the same money to book venue and make other arrangements. On the other hand, they kept their expenses under tight control and wherever possible they took the work upon themselves instead of delegating it to a vendor. For instance, the event venue decoration was completely done by them, to avoid additional expenses. They also were able to arrange four sponsors for the event after good deal of persuasion about the viability of the exhibition. The event also needed to be marketed well to the residents of the town so that they understood the concept and bought the idea.
Finally, after 4 months of hard work and efforts, RIBIKA was ready with its first exhibition in April 2016. The exhibition proved to be a roaring success. The footfall in the event exceeded all their estimations and crowd-control became a challenge in itself. People of the town had never seen anything like this and finding the best of the country right at their doorsteps, the response was overwhelming. RIBIKA had taken-off.
Despite the tremendous success of their first exhibitions, the RIBIKA girls refused to celebrate too early. They had learnt important lessons from their experience. The importance of delegation of smaller less important tasks, so that they could focus on more important ones, the significance of online marketing, building client relationships and ensuring that they could retain interest in the people for future exhibitions.
The phenomenal success of RIBIKA also brought-in competition. Few other companies mushroomed overnight to organize similar exhibitions. They waged a price war, offering exhibitors lower price and discounts. Richa, Bindiya and Kanika, together decided not to compromise on quality and held their fort instead of lowering price to ensure retention. Although few of their bookings got diverted but eventually, they were successful in establishing RIBIKA brand as a premium lifestyle exhibition company.
RIBIKA organizes exhibitions twice a year, in the months of March-April and October-November. RIBIKA as a company has come a long way since they started and have increased their staff, online and social media presence. RIBIKA today is a sought-after brand who are approached by sponsors whenever they organize an exhibition, other local brands advertise exclusively through their social media handles and the company also supports new and wannabe women entrepreneurs in their quest of entrepreneurship.
RIBIKA Girls have also been honoured with women entrepreneurship award by a prominent media house. A lot has changed since the time they started RIBIKA. However, one thing that has not changed is their friendship, the one for all and all for one spirit. RIBIKA Girls have a message for all those women around the world who want to fulfill their dreams and step into the world of entrepreneurship.
Richa – Believe in yourself and you can do it!
Bidiya – There is no straight road to success, we had our own share of ups and downs, but we trusted each other and never looked back. So, trust yourself, you will succeed may not immediately but absolutely and definitely.
Kanika – Take small steps, don’t think too big, keep your vision realistic. Don’t make your vision so big in the beginning that you yourself get scared of it. Start small, dream big.