Published: 14th June 2020
How Bengaluru start-up Stoned Santa fuses art with creativity to create the perfect gift
Shashank Shekhar, founder of Stoned Santa, speaks about his platform that can not only help young artists earn money but is also a place where people can place customised orders for unique gifts
If you ask me, gifting is a talent. Some people are just blessed with the knack of giving that perfect gift that's both thoughtful and unique. But most of us struggle and end up having to hunt for unique gifts for our near and dear ones. A few years ago, entrepreneur Shashank Shekhar faced the same situation. It was his parents 25th wedding anniversary and he was searching for a customised gift. While he ended up gifting them a handmade sketch of their family photo (the perfect anniversary gift, don't you think?), it gave him an idea to start a platform that can help people customise their gifts. Thus was born Stoned Santa.
Shashank, who is an alumnus of SRM Institute of Science and Technology, says, "I completed my Engineering in Computer Science in 2017 and started Stoned Santa in 2018. This platform was started with an idea to connect artists from across India and facilitate people to place customised orders for their gifting purposes." Being a brand new start-up, funding was not immediately available. Shashank and his team participated in art competitions and they'd won several cash prizes — enough to start their journey. Later, the start-up received funds from the NSRCEL, a Bengaluru-based incubation centre. "We will soon be moving to our new office space, it is currently on hold due to the COVID-19 situation," says Shashank happily.
Shashank Shekhar, founder of Stoned Santa
So, how does this platform work? Stoned Santa is connected with a 160 different artists on various social media platforms. Shashank explains, "We look for artists and the kind of art they create and get in touch with them. Once we receive orders from customers, we identify their requirements and place our orders with a particular artist. We actively work with around 50 artists and see that the orders are delivered on time. Apart from creating gifts for birthdays and anniversaries, we also create digital art pieces for corporate events so that they give their employees or clients a unique gifting experience."
Like every other start-up, Shashank's team has had their own challenges to face, one of them is trying to automate the process. He explains, "We would like to scale up in terms of the number of customers. An automated process would be easier," adding, "Apart from this, we need to overcome personal biases which means doing tasks in a more efficient way. Fixing errors and not repeating them so that we grow better as a start-up. These are the challenges that we currently want to overcome." And what about the challenges they're currently facing during lockdown? Shashank replies, "Due to the restrictions, we were not able to deliver the handmade gifts on time. It had all come to a sudden halt. Then we decided to switch to the digital platform. We started to experiment with paintings and gifts in digital form too. The new format helped us bounce back."
Quirky and cute digital gifts
Talking about the unique digital art they create for their clients, he says, "Imagination can come from anything that we watch. Recently, we got an order for a couple's caricature which we created as God Shiva and Godess Parvathi. We have also created customised nameplates, handcrafted string art, handmade portraits and much more." Shashank aims to one day become the one-stop online shop for all kinds of gifts. "Gifting is a unique experience and if you are able to add some good memories to it, then there's nothing better than that. I believe that both the gifter and the receiver should be equally happy," concludes Shashank.
Other artwork created by artists at Stoned Santa