Just a few weeks backs, I sat down to sort the postcards my parents and grandparents had collected over the years. Some were stamped and sent from remote corners of the world. They were scribbled in different fonts and told the story of a different era. It was an absolute delight to read them and bought a sincere smile on my face. A few days later I met Shivani Saran, a product design student at NID, and she greeted me saying, “Would you like to send some postcards?” In front of me stood rows of well designed modern day postcards that were hard to ignore.
Shivani Saran went on to explain that these postcards were a part of her venture -“Battees“. Battees was born in a local ice cream parlour at Stadium Circle in Ahmedabad over Kesar Pista and Anjeer ice cream. While Harnehmat and Shivani gobbled away the surprisingly delicious flavours, it came up that they wanted to do a surprise morning at college (at the National Institute of Design) and make people smile for no reason at all. That’s where it started. And ever since then, they have been doing everything they can to make people show their Batteesi.
On World Post Day 2013, Shivani took up interesting initiative of spreading smiles through postcards. She sourced designs for 148 postcards, printed them and invited fellow students to send out postcards. She even offered them a beautiful selection of stamps from the Philately department that matched the designer postcards. The end result was a few hundred Batteesis across the NID campus!
Intrigued by her fascinating story, I took a closer look at Battees and chatted up with Shivani to understand Battees better. Here’s are the excerpts from my interview with her:
Give us a brief about Battees and what made you start this venture?
Battees started off with the idea of spreading smiles. And smiles for no reason at all, because, well, why not? It then went ahead to using post as a medium to spread the love.
Describe the postcards you create and its USP.
The most interesting part about these postcards is the beautiful artwork contributed by NID students, which makes the cards tempting enough to be picked. Also, the stamps that we keep from the philately department become a major attraction for people to want to write because we don’t give stamps to collectors; only and only writers. And if this was not enough, we provide pens, writing space and also do the service of posting the cards for people, so that they have absolutely no excuse to procrastinate. Also, to facilitate building a personal connect between the card, the stamps and the person, we are ourselves present to help people pick the perfect card and stamp for their loved one.
What is the thought process behind the brand name
You don’t need to be a genius to figure this out, but Battees means 32 in hindi, which is the number of your pearly whites, and we want you and your loved ones to showcase them at all times.
What is the biggest hurdle you have faced or are still facing?
We are not the actual medium reaching the postcard to the doorstep. It is the Indian postal system and we rely on that. Since the system is not 100% fool proof, the people are disheartened when the cards don’t reach their loved ones, and we have no control over that.
Another hurdle is to figure out what would be the most appropriate way to credit the contributors of the artwork, and keep the postcards economical at the same time.
What are your future plans? Are you planning to expand your product category?
We don’t have concrete future plans for now, but Battees is definitely not just postcards. It is any medium to spread smiles.
Has Ahmedabad as a city ever facilitated Battees in any way?
Ahmedabad, being such a supportive city in terms of culture, education and art, made it a wonderful platform to exchange such an idea and build relationships and even come to know people. Being in Natrani last week made us realize how important it was for this venture to go out in the city and not stay inside the walls of NID.
How can Amdavadis buy your postcards?
We have a website under construction. But you can contact us on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/battees or read more about our endeavours and stories on http://battees.blogspot.in/ Other than that, we’re going to be there to have postcards out for sale in Goodies in Vastrapur on the 27th, 28th and 29th of December, 2013.
One piece of advice for Amdavadi entrepreneurs
We’re really fresh and new to this ourselves, but from what we have learnt, a personal connect to your audience is of prime importance. And in a digital age, what is it that you can do that is not available for free online?
We wish Battees and Shivani a good luck for the future. We hope that Battees encourages more people to write by hand and send out smiles through postcards!