Mittihub, an earthenware startup was launched last year by two students Abhinav Aggarwal and Megha Joshi from Rajasthan, India to connect local artisans from the state of Rajasthan, Haryana, Delhi, and Agra to sell their handmade earthenware without any middlemen.
The online store sells terracotta ware delivered directly from artisans to buyers. This unique startup has helped the local artisans to earn up to Rs 40,000 per month from the art that was lost amid machine-made bulk.
In 2020, the students were asked to build an ecommerce platform for their college project. Abhinav had heard about handmade terracotta ware from his family and he decided to take up the topic.
With the dawn of industrialization, the focus has shifted to machine-made goods which pushed the handmade uniquely crafted products behind. The local artisans don’t get their due share since whatever they earn is taken by middlemen as commission, which adds up to almost 50% of the revenue.
This information was gathered by the students while interacting with potters and thorough research.
They made a team of 7 undergraduates and got down to set up a new customer base for terracotta products. Initially, only 5 artisans agreed to be on board.
The students pooled in their initial investment of Rs50,000 from their savings and took loans from family and friends to get down to business.
The strategy had been to get enough pre-orders to make the venture profitable from the beginning. Word of mouth was their front-runner.
When Mittihub was finally launched this year, the online store was already working on 30 orders.
Today, 25 artisans are earning steadily from this social venture. The product range includes cookware, tableware, and a range of decorative merchandise that is shipped across India.
According to Abhinav Aggarwal, the artisans have witnessed a 40% raise in their monthly earnings.
Earlier, artisans who used to rely only on seasonal art exhibitions where the sale was negligible are now feeling blessed by being part of this venture since they have now fixed incomes.
The startup has garnered a total revenue of Rs 3 lakh ($4000) in the first six months of its launch. According to Abhinav, per sale 45% of the total revenue is given to the artisans.
The students had to teach each artisan how to use applications such as WhatsApp for seamless operations. Since most of the artisans come from the rural part of the country, marketing illiteracy was a major hurdle.
Another challenge was to explain to the artisans to create customized designs since verbal instructions often get lost in translation during briefing sessions. To overcome, one of the team members now creates a 3-D model to provide a visual aid to rural artisans.
Mittihub has partnered with various restaurants and retail stores in the country intending to expand their business. The startup has delivered two consignments to the USA and London respectively.