Arman Sood swayed his way into the startup industry in the early years of college. Alongside a friend from Jindal Law School he started in first entrepreneurial venture eShack and later also cofounded a company called Sleepy Owl Cold Brew Coffee. His inclination towards selling can be retraced back to childhood when he would sell Pokemon cards, the once-famous cartoon for all the 90’s kids. This is an exclusive interview on his journey.
Highlights of this episode
- Starting up with eShack, an online business housing a range of funky party and drinking accessories.
- Acquiring the startup work experience after finishing with law school.
- Their bond over coffee inclined them with startup with Sleepy Owl Cold Brew Coffee.
Quotes and Takeaways
- “It started with selling my collection of Pokemon Cards once I got bored of playing with them.”
- “The water is always murky and deep but the only way to find out is to wet your paws and that’s something I will keep doing.”
When did you decide to embark on your entrepreneurial journey? What inspired you to commence your career as an entrepreneur while studying in Jindal Law School?
Like a lot of kids growing up I loved the idea of being able to sell something that provides value to someone in exchange for cash or kind. It started with selling my collection of Pokemon Cards once I got bored of playing with them. When I joined University I set up my own canteen along with a few friends. These were all stepping stones in my entrepreneurial journey. In my 3rd Year of Law School my friend and I launched eShack, an online store retailing bar and party accessories. This is when I decided I wanted to pursue a career in entrepreneurship. Even though we were law students we received immense support from our peers, faculty and even University to explore the start up world and carve a niche for ourselves. The fact that I was able to inspire others around me motivated me to continue my journey into entrepreneurship instead of a career in law.
Why did you decide on naming it E-Shack? How did you manage running it beside your college curriculum?
For us party accessories became like a collectible. Being a solely online business housing a range of funky party and drinking accessories we decided on the name eShack for our venture. It was an ordeal to manage both law school and a full-fledged online business at only 19 years of age. We had to adhere to the minimum attendance requirement as well as take all our mid-semester and end semester examinations. The key to being able to do it all was time management. We would carve out our days very carefully to ensure we do not get sidetracked. To add to that friends and faculty were understanding and always provided full support to us.
As an aftermath of certain events, you decided to shut down E-Shack. What reasons do you identify for taking such a decision? What was your biggest learning from E-Shack?
EShack catered to a very niche market. Our customers inevitably had to be those who not only enjoyed drinking alcohol but those who were willing to invest in enhancing their experience. In India most students/ young adults did not have the freedom in terms of homes/ houses or capacity to spend to order our accessories. On the other hand we did not have the marketing budget to reach out to end consumers directly. We pivoted from a B2C to a B2B model to increase sales. Once we ran out of stock we decided to wrap up eShack in search of more lucrative opportunities. My biggest learning from eShack was that it is possible to create things from scratch, find customers and generate interest while doing new and interesting things. I knew then on that I could pursue my passions and make a living doing something for myself, something that I loved instead of being a part of the rat race.
Recently you also spoke about your venture Sleepy Owl Cold Brew Coffee. Can you tell us about it?
After wrapping up eShack and graduating from law school both Ashwajeet and I went on to work for start-ups. One of the common interests we had during law school was coffee. From bonding over our love for coffee to using it to survive sleepless nights in law school, we carried the passion forward to our work places. Quality coffee specially iced coffee was exceedingly inconvenient and to an extent inaccessible both at our homes and workplaces. The youth function on coffee and so do we. We realized there was a need that needed to be fulfilled and we took it on ourselves to start brewing the perfect cup! Once we hit the right formula of cold brew we decided to take our passion to the next level.
What is the greatest startup lesson you’ve learnt so far?
You can only learn by doing and exposing yourself to more opportunities. I am fortunate that my parents supported me during eShack and allowed me to pave my own path. It is always about taking the first step and the rest follows. This does not apply only to entrepreneurs but to almost anyone. The water is always murky and deep but the only way to find out is to wet your paws and that’s something I will keep doing. Had it not been for eShack I would not have been exposed to a whole new world.
Would you say that studying law help you to pave your way in entrepreneurship?
Entrepreneurship is more about life experiences than about any specific module or course. During law school, I was extensively exposed to research, public speaking, and team events etc., which helped develop a set of skills and qualities that made me sharper and smarter as an entrepreneur.
I recently wrote and article on how law school prepares students for entrepreneurship accessible.
What is your message for our readers who aspire to become entrepreneurs?
Stop aspiring and start doing. It does not have to be a full-fledged business for you to be an entrepreneur. One must pick up any hobby or passion or even find lucrative opportunities wherein they are able provide something of value to someone in exchange for money/ funds etc.
This entity of value can be a social startup, project in assistance with NGO’s or even for profit initiatives. I believe each and every one of us comes up with ideas all the time. Entrepreneurs are the ones who choose execute them.