Zaakpay, Angels (the investor kind) and Rogues!

We have been busy! Remember the vendor induced shingles… well they (the vendors!) are being replaced on a war footing! These were not artisans but service providers who are just not up to the mark and consume vast amounts of our management time. First on the list is our payment gateway. We went with the biggest but have found them to have a shockingly poor interface and unresponsive to feedback. Our international clients have confirmed that they find the design (which we can’t change) confusing. Well they won’t anymore. The new payment gateway, Zaakpay, is much easier to navigate and should be live in a few days. Started by a young lady who clearly saw the opportunity to do it better and different. Kudos to her. Also we have just partnered with another young company, Gharpay, who are redefining cash payments in India – they certainly won’t be making the mistakes that our previous cash on delivery partner made, i.e. doing the delivery and forgetting to collect the cash!

We are also doing the rounds of angel investors and venture capitalists. Want to grow Arastan while ensuring it retains its charm. The whole process of raising investment is exciting but also feels like doing exams and I for one thought I had left that behind a while ago! If you know someone we should be talking to in this regard please do let me know. For an entertaining account of royal mess ups by investors, see what Bessemer Venture Partners themselves call antiportfolio. The Google one is my favourite!!

Unfortunately we continue to fight our rogue builder in court – that is material for a blog site/book all of its own one day. We were in ‘mediation’. Although the mediation centre is in one of the dodgiest streets in Bangalore – one that houses all the car ‘spare’ parts you can imagine (although the original owners might not really consider them ‘spare’!) – the concept and execution is impressive. However, the best mediator can only facilitate something if all parties want resolution. Our builder friend does not care, we are the least of his problems. Staying out of jail takes priority! So we are back in Mayo Hall now, a heritage building that is in remarkable condition given the volume of traffic it gets every day. Twenty feet ceilings, lovely vintage tiles, teak doors with antique bolts you want to take home! We are becoming friends, Mayo Hall and I, although Mike did tell me he saw a rat running on the cables ten feet above my head today. The sum of money at stake is large, in any currency, and it is sometimes hard to hold on to the ‘inner poise’. So the free advice I have received ipso facto which I can second is not to buy an unfinished property in India in a downturn. There is no such thing as a free lunch and you may find the builder pushing you out so he/she can maximise profit when the market turns, and abusing the overloaded Indian judicial system to keep you tied in knots for months, years and potentially decades. You may get there in the end but you will almost certainly be more than a little grey by then.

Time to travel I think! Clear the mind and get a few more goodies for the next exhibition in Mumbai from 20 – 22 September at Artisans at Kala Ghoda. Block the dates!


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    Arastan was an online store that curated rare and handpicked treasures from exotic bazaars along the ancient silk route. Unfortunately we ceased trading in early 2014.

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