Meet Catherine Dohling and Trideep Rabha, a power couple and this is the story of their entrepreneurial journey, which began with a common problem and ended with a solution. They are the co-founders of The North East Store, an online store that showcases goods and food items from the North-Eastern states to a broader audience.
How it all began?
People love where they are from. And miss it when they are away. A simple fact that led to the creation of The North East Store, which solves problems for many Northeasterners who move to other parts of the country to pursue a career by providing them with a sense of home away from home.
When did it start?
They started their journey in 2013-14, figuring out their business process and obtaining licences. But the North East Store, took the founders a while to establish the online platform which makes the brand 4 years old. Catherine said, “It might sound like 4 years is a lot, but the first few years took us just to figure out the entire process. We wanted to be based in Meghalaya and most of the people that we needed to speak to, required a license.“
What were the challenges faced along the way?
“Most of the people did not understand that we needed a license to open an online store. Only when we used the examples of Flipkart and Amazon, then they somehow understood the concept. It took us quite a while to get the licenses. And, since we operate predominantly online, so we needed certain types of licenses to be able to take payments online, plus we were a private limited company.”, Catherine responded.
What do they offer?
A selection of food items, cooking ingredients, indigenous handloom, and handicrafts that are unique to the states of the northeastern region. Sourced straight from the makers and producers as well as from NGOs, Government & Self Help Groups who directly support local farmers & artisans.
Catherine and Trideep are both extremely enthusiastic about their work, and they collaborate to promote food products as well as one-of-a-kind handicrafts directly from the makers and producers. They serve as a link between producers in the North East and consumers in other parts of India.
Who are the target groups and where are the demands coming from?
“When we started we thought people from the North East would be our primary customers, but as of now the majority of our customers are people who are not from the North East.“, Trideep said.
“We can say about 60% are non-northeastern as we have high demands from all the metro cities; and 40% from cities where there are lots of North-Eastern population, students and young working population”, Catherine added.
What are the contributions to small local and rural manufactures?
“People in rural areas do not have a good understanding of how to sell their goods online. So, in addition to providing them with a platform, we felt it was necessary to give them advice on how to develop their products and make them more appealing to customers.” Catherine replied.
“We also encourage small businesses and give them feedback about their packaging, labels and other stuff. This way we motivate them to improve their product so that it can visually appeal to the people.” Trideep told
Where is the brand headed?
The North East Store, like every other start-up, has the ambition to expand and thrive. They replied, “We want to be a start-up that is worth the name, to be somebody who is representative of the unique products available in the North East. In short, we want to be the Amazon of the North Eastern products.”.
A message for the future entrepreneurs
“If you have an idea and have a passion for something, the rest of the things you will figure it out on your own. You will learn on the job. Don’t let anything limit what you can do. An idea should be able to solve a problem, if it doesn’t solve a problem what’s the point of the idea?” Catherine & Trideep.