Nishant Kapoor | Founder and CEO, PetProject.HK, Toddler.HK & LifeProject.HK
Nishant has over ten years of experience in E-commerce, of which six years were with startups. He worked in online travel in Europe and later ran operations for a wine startup in India. In 2011, he quit the wine startup he was working for and subsequently founded Life Project Limited in Hong Kong, a group of family-focused E-commerce websites, such as PetProject.HK, Toddler.HK and LifeProject.HK.
Nishant is passionate about building a democratic philosophy into his organisational culture, customer service and technology. His mission as an entrepreneur is to bring these passions together in his E-commerce ventures.
About LifeProject & PetProject.
Nishant moved to Hong Kong four years ago with his wife and their dog. He tried looking for stuff for the dog online, but couldn’t find a half-decent website with the brands we wanted, a convenient delivery schedule and a secure credit card checkout. Around the same time, Nishant was looking for his next project in Hong Kong. He wanted to do something in the E-commerce space, given his experience – and it made sense to start with an online pet store.
Established in 2011, Life Project Ltd (‘LPL’) is Hong Kong’s first family-focused E-commerce portal. The first initiative PetProject.HK was launched in November 2011 – an online store for pet food and supplies. PetProject.HK carries a full range of pet products, treats and toys, including a wide selection of natural and organic foods.
The first website PetProject.HK was launched in 2012; and then a year ago, they launched their second website LifeProject.HK for humans! LifeProject.HK was driven by our need for a convenient and customer-focused way to source quality natural and organic foodstuff for ourselves and our kids.
LifeProject.HK, a natural/organic grocery store was launched in 2014. Both sites leverage on one common customer service, logistics and technology backbone infrastructure. In fact, they are built on one web-based back-end that serves multiple storefronts.
By offering a wide selection of premium grocery, pet and baby products through our specialized websites, LPL aims to serve all families in Hong Kong.
Overcoming the Challenges.
One of the key challenges was realizing that retail E-commerce actually needed capital to scale as we needed warehousing, inventory, online marketing, web design and development etc., which meant we needed to raise funding. We struggled at first, but like everything else in entrepreneurship, fund raising is a skill that can be learned. We’ve successfully managed to raise the funding we needed to grow our business.
In the short-term we are focused on localisation i.e. increasing penetration in Hong Kong’s local Cantonese market. We’re also going to be launching high quality, fast and easy mobile apps.
In the long-term we are working on building our own brand for certain fast-moving consumer products. We are also testing the market in Mainland China , especially for our own-brand products.
We’re really trying to redefine retail and customer service standards in Hong Kong by creating personalized, convenient, high quality and well-priced online shopping experiences for busy families.
Tips for New Entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurs get too attached to their venture and their own vision and ideas behind the venture. We don’t realize that in most cases our employees know more than us, and are way smarter than we would expect.
Every business/startup has to evolve to stay relevant and grow. We do that is with the help of our team and co-founder. Have a motivated team by avoiding situations or systems which contribute toward emotional fatigue. The easiest way to do that is to have a flexible, ‘supervision-free’ work environment. At Life Project, our employees choose their own work schedule, can work from wherever they want, and have the discretion to make a lot of ‘senior level’ decisions. My job as a founder is to provide our employees with the autonomy and resources to take care of our customers, then get out of their way.