Not just can one buy various products from Yetekinibi, however, one can also use this platform to showcase their contents and get connected to different people from the region.
In conversation with The Story Mug, Yetekinibi's co-founder Mughato Swu speaks at length about his new e-commerce platform and the journey so far.
TSM: What is Yetekinibi all about?
Swu: We strive to be the platform that connects the people digitally through our site.
Not only are we just an e-commerce site, but also a platform for the local entrepreneurs, content creators and our dear people to connect, share and expand along with the rest of the country.
Yetekinibi like all e-commerce is to provide service to man, to mobilize locally, and create an online business ambient.
TSM: How was the idea conceived?
Swu: The idea to create this e-commerce platform has always been on the table and it never really took off as we were busy with our works and lives. But when this pandemic started last year, that was when we decided that this is it.
This platform is a necessity and we could, in our own ways, contribute because profit was not on our list. So that was how ‘Yetekinibi’ became a reality.
TSM: I read somewhere that says Yetekinibi is an answer to Amazon or Flipkart. Is it true?
Swu: Well, you should not believe everything that the people are saying and anything that’s typed and posted over Social Media Platforms at this current juncture. And No, we are not here to compete or compare.
Other e-commerce platforms bring in products, but we plan to send out the products that our own people make so the whole idea is to produce and promote local and to let the world know about it.
TSM: If so, then what made you believe that people would choose Yetekinibi over Amazon or Flipkart?
Swu: Well, as mentioned earlier we aren’t in the market to compete nor compare being a small upcoming digital platform and especially with the giant e-commerce leads.
Never that would be in our dreams even, yet the only possibility and effort would be to reach and provide our humble service to the remotest areas of the state where many fail to reach due to lack of road connectivity and other hidden reasons.
Adding to that, in fact, we would say we are indeed inspired by Amazon and Flipkart.
TSM: What have been the challenges that you have encountered so far?
Swu: It has been a very bumpy ride, to be frank. Unlike other sister states, Nagaland is perhaps the most challenging when it comes to e-commerce.
The factor being the basic infrastructure of proper roads and delivery service.
This is taking its toll but we are burning the midnight oil to address this so that we can deliver and perform at our optimum.
TSM: Has there been any support from the government?
Swu: We do not have any investors /support whether private or government. But this has been a continuous journey filled with knowledge and experience for all of us here at Yetekinibi.
We are growing each day and with the team’s effort, we will be sticking around. Every day is a learning day for us and we take it as an opportunity.
TSM: What are the products you had on the menu initially and what products do you have now?
Swu: Initially, we were focused on electronics and local content creators. We needed to build a platform for sustenance initially and slowly work our way toward the local market.
Currently, our product comprises locally made products (handcrafted), books, merchandises of content creators, home appliances, clothing and also health & beauty products.
TSM: Would you elaborate more on the local products?
Swu: Yes, our “Go Local” menu comprises locally made products. The local market and product are yet to be fully tapped and we are working with entrepreneurs to expand our menu in the coming months.
The famous and heavy-demand local product is Axone- a fermented soya bean cakes that are used to make Axone pickle or added to meat dishes to enhance their flavour.
We usually procure from our local producers and local entrepreneurs and that's how they are also able to collaborate with us and through this, we are also able to provide them with the platform and reach out to the market.
TSM: How has been the response so far?
Swu: We are deeply humbled by the positive response and encouragement from our customers. Their support has been the pillar that has kept us going and we shall continue to try our best to improve further.
TSM: Who are your delivery partners?
Swu: We are currently coordinating with local delivery service providers only as most of our customers are based in our state only.
As for delivery within the serviceable areas around Kohima and Dimapur, we use our own delivery boys.
As for the states outside, we have not tied up with any delivery service providers but for now, we utilise prominent delivery service providers for the orders.
TSM: Where do you deliver/sell? Is it pan-India or just northeast?
Swu: We deliver pan-India. But our main focus is local only. Nagaland, followed by our other sister states.
TSM: Tell us about the team. How did you come aboard?
Swu: Few of us are friends for a very long time and some of us got connected through mutual friends and everyone's potential and strengths are different and that's how it came t be united as one and make this project possible and easy to know the team's individual calibre.
TSM: Tell us about the role of each member
Swu: Yetekinibi was created by a 7-member team comprising of four IT and communication experts- Imnajungshi Nokdir, Mughato Swu, Longhsithung Lotha, and Achila; two market specialists- Renjamo and Tia and one trade and finance analyst Toni Chishi.
TSM: Is entrepreneurship still at its nascent stage in the Northeast?
Swu: This may be subjective, but for us, yes and no. Yes, because entrepreneurship is yet to have the impact that we as entrepreneurs expect.
There is an ocean of opportunity lying to be tapped when we look at our Northeast. People always tend to go out looking for opportunities while being totally blind to the ones available in their own backyard.
No, because there are enough ideas all around. Our people need to create the market and not just look to replicate the business ideas.
TSM: How is the scenario in Nagaland?
Swu: We started out knowing that Nagaland is enough and sufficient for us and the people to grow.
So, the opportunity is immense when we take into account the number of people shopping online nowadays and its growing day by day.
TSM: How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you and your business?
Swu: The COVID-19 pandemic has got both positive as well as negative for us, positive when we say, it was about the investment and availability of time that we got to study, work and implement towards our website so as to upgrade and think to upgrade new feathers whereas, definitely like any other business we did face a lot of downfalls and especially when it’s a start-up and you start from the scratch and adding it, the nation-wide lockdown has drastically affected not in terms of order but for the delivery services that we were not able to make it due to the pandemic.
TSM: What are your plans for the future?
Swu: Digital platform has so many options and we are currently looking to incorporate other services (besides e-commerce), once we have properly studied the market. So, fingers crossed!
TSM: Any message for the budding and young entrepreneurs from the Northeast?
Swu: Oh yes, very much! Yetekinibi is a living example and always remember that opportunities are created. You create the market, collaborate with like-minded people, plan and execute.
An idea does not just become a reality overnight so think 5-10 years down the line of how you vision your idea will become.
Profit should never be the target and work for the people, our Northeast, and if at any point you require guidance, we are here. Reach out to us, we would gladly support you in any possible way we can.
Start Small, Learn from your own experiences, work hard but most importantly ‘work smart’ because it's Advanced 21st century and always be humble and be consistent in everything you do.
Best wishes and Stay Safe everyone!
The Story Mug, a Guwahati-based blogzine, believes in telling stories that matter.